8 tips for improving an anxious day

Anxious days feel like the following for me:

  • no motivation
  • can’t do work
  • don’t want to talk to anyone (pls don’t talk to me)
  • do not feel capable of doing things
  • “bored”
  • body calm, tired
  • overthinking instead of doing

While I’m a proponent of the occasional Bad Days, I almost always try to improve my most anxious days. And here’s how I do it:

1. Have 1 thing to do that day

This takes the pressure off of completing a long, perhaps unattainable to-do list. Plus as far as behavioral activation goes, you’re setting yourself up for doing the next thing.

Behavioral activation is doing a task can activate a better mental state – or at least more confidence and motivation to do the next thing.

2. Make your space COZY

Cozy varies from person to person. Have you considered what it means for you? If you need some help discerning, I encourage you to read the life-changing Cozy: The Art of Arranging Yourself in the World by Isabel Gillies.

So, cozy. Whatever that means to you. A cup of coffee or tea, putting on your favorite sweatshirt or pants or blanket, lighting candles in the apartment you’re not supposed to have candles in.

3. Think about lighting

Lighting can change entire setting/environment, and we often forget about that. Use this theory of mine to your advantage, not your detriment.

4. Listen to something

While multi-tasking technically cannot be done, that’s kind of the point. Let your brain not focus on one thing. Introduce a second thing to make the first thing more bearable.

Some ideas for listening include ASMR, soundscapes, music, audiobooks or a podcast.

5. Scents

Pick a scent to ground you. Scents are powerful and can encourage your brain to rest at a certain… frequency. Okay, I made that up but still.

Be careful though. Because scents are so powerful, they can also have a powerfully negative side of triggering you and reminding you of something you’d rather not be reminded of.

6. Tidy up your space

Two words: minimal and useful. Notice how I said minimal, not minimalist. To me, minimalists would have nothing on their desks but their computer. I’m talking having minimal amount of things, the essential things.

Things can be essential for their own reasons, too. A piece of decor may be essential because it’s part of your visual, real-life mood board. What I’m trying to say it don’t be afraid to have some stuff on your desk.

7. Reduce the stimulation that comes from phone and email

The kind of stimulation set off by your phone, email and social media is the kind that won’t help your anxiety. Obviously. If you can’t fully set your email aside because you’re at work, close down the inbox for 15-30 minutes to work on something (or nothing) with complete focus.

8. Go on Pinterest instead of social media

Scrolling can help us detach in a healthy way for a minute (see: Laziness Does Not Exist for Dr. Devon Price’s analysis on scrolling as something healthy). But why not scroll on a site that’ll bring us joy and inspiration, like Pinterest? Get pinning people! (Not sponsored.)

Here’s to less-anxious days. Thank you for reading!

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