7 Ways To Channel Your Anxiety Into Useful Activities

Doing good feels good.

If you suffer from anxiety, like I do, then you’re probably familiar with the feeling of creeping dread that can come over you without warning, leaving you wringing your hands and struggling to catch your breath.

In these moments, I often don’t know what to do with myself. I might throw my energy into a project, but I’m just as likely to spin my wheels and get nothing done.

Even if you don’t have clinical anxiety – if you’re anxious for a quantifiable reason, like waiting to hear back about a job interview, or something else outside your control – it’s good to have a way to channel that nervous energy and calm yourself down.

These seven suggestions aren’t a replacement for professional help or medication, if you need it, but I have found them useful as I try to deal with my own anxiety…

1. Train for a marathon

It doesn’t have to be a marathon (though I did that and it totally worked for me); it can be any type of sporting event. A shorter road race or a bike tour would work. Maybe team sports are more your thing – could you join a local softball league or volleyball team? Getting your body moving is key when you suffer from anxiety. Because sometimes, there’s no better medicine than good old-fashioned sweat.

2. Clean and organize your apartment

This is my personal fave. Call me weird, but I love to clean. For one thing, cleaning is a discrete task: you can see the mess and dirt, you know what to do, and you can tell when it’s done. It’s so satisfying to have a clean and organized desk, or kitchen, or car, or entire apartment – sometimes this can knock my anxiety right out, I feel so pleased with myself. Try tackling one small task and see how it goes. One closet, or even one drawer, can make a big difference to your mental state by allowing you to channel your energy elsewhere, which has been shown to be effective in tackling anxiety.

3. Learn to knit

Sometimes you just need to do something with your hands, in order to quiet your mind. Knitting or crocheting is great for this. Plus, it’s portable, easy to learn, and inexpensive. Yes, you can spend quite a bit on high-quality wool and different sizes of needles, but all you really need is one pair of knitting needles and a spool of any type of yarn to get started. I like to knit dishcloths out of cotton yarn; they’re fast, easy, and cheap to make – and are actually useful around the house.

4. Update your dating profile or resume

If your anxiety stems from relationship or job stuff, why not throw your energy into finding a new one? Make a new online dating profile, or give your current one a makeover. Overhaul your resume and take a good hard look at your skill set: could you be doing some other type of job that might make you less anxious? Take the pressure off by reminding yourself you don’t have to find a new job or relationship – you’re just exploring the possibilities. Doing something concrete to improve your future can take the edge off your anxiety.

5. Plan a party

If you’re an introvert, this might not be your preferred method of dealing with anxiety, but if you’re the kind of person who gets your energy from other people, then throwing a party is a perfect way to surround yourself with people who love you, and get recharged. That always helps me feel better when I’m anxious. And also, it gives you a reason to clean your apartment. It doesn’t have to be a big, fancy party – although it can be if you want! Make it themed and have a wine-tasting, or a clothing and book swap, or just get your friends together for a potluck and some games.

6. Start a side business

What do you love to do, and wish you could do more of? I actually cleaned houses for a while, just because I love cleaning so much. Then I started a business helping people get organized, because I realized I loved that even more. Sorting through my crap and getting rid of it was so rewarding, I wanted to do it for other people too. If there’s something that makes you happy, finding a way to make it into a side hustle can benefit your bank account as well as your mental health.

7. Do some good in the world

Taking the focus off yourself is often the best way to combat anxiety. Get busy volunteering, and chances are you’ll be distracted from your own troubles. There are countless ways to help out. If you’re not already involved with a church, school, or other group that has projects already going on, find a nonprofit that does something you’re passionate about, and find out if they’re looking for volunteers. Help plant trees, or read to old people in a nursing home, or teach knitting to school kids. Doing good feels good, and it keeps you from wallowing in your own anxiety.

Images via giphy.com.

Comment: What helps you cope with your anxiety?