How to Find Calm When You Are Overwhelmed or Anxious

Knit, step away from your screens, light a candle and others ways to turn off your brain and improve your spiritual wellbeing.

Posted in , Oct 18, 2021

Woman resting relaxing in a park (Getty Images)

I’ve always dealt with anxiety. It got particularly bad during the process of moving this past summer. Between packing, booking movers, decluttering my possessions, and setting things up at my new place—all in the sweltering July heat—I was stretched thin and felt completely overwhelmed. But taking time off to relax and do nothing didn’t help; some days I just couldn’t turn my brain off. I decided I needed to take concrete steps to calm myself down. After a few weeks of trial and error, I found a few sure-fire ways to achieve some peace of mind. I hope these techniques help you find your own oasis in the storm.  

  1. Step Away from Your Screens 

After a long, stressful day, I’m often tempted to unwind with some scrolling or TV time. But now I try taking some time away from my screens first. According to the Mayo Clinic, reducing your screen time can be beneficial to your health by improving your sleep, freeing up your time for more active pursuits, and boosting your mood. There are a few ways to help yourself spend less time in front of a screen. Turn off notifications on your apps so you aren’t tempted to check them all day long. Designate space in your home where you don’t use a screen and instead use that space for reading or other activities. Or take a short walk every day after work to unwind and enjoy the wonders of God’s world in person. 

Step away from the technological world and enjoy these four games that don’t require a screen.  

  1. Spend Time with Animals 

Spending time with your pets can be a great way to slow down and put your mind at ease. According to the CDC, playing with your pet can decrease your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and can help you manage anxiety or depression. Cuddle with your cat or bring out their favorite toy for a fun game. Take your dog for a walk in a new area and play a round of fetch. Even if you don’t have a pet—like me (for now)—spending time with any animals can be helpful. When I’m feeling stressed, I’ll watch the squirrels in my backyard as they scamper around in the trees. Or I’ll go to my local park and watch the dogs playing in the dog run. I even set up a bird feeder outside my window so I can take a moment during my day to watch the birds fly back and forth. Doing these things helps me focus on the playful and beautiful nature of God’s creatures—while taking my mind off my worries.  

Get organized and inspired by more adorable animals, heartwarming stories and pet care tips with the All God's Creatures Daily Planner 2022. 

  1. Light a Candle 

If you’re like me, even if you find the time to sit down and enjoy a moment of silence, you still find yourself worrying. One afternoon, after unsuccessfully trying to clear my head, I decided I needed to focus on something. Counterintuitive? Maybe. But if I could focus on something that didn’t require me to analyze it, then I thought that might work. I had lit a lavender scented candle to help me relax. (Lavender is known to be a good stress reliever.) I found that looking at the candle and focusing on the movement of the flame helped me to slow my breathing and quiet my mind. Guideposts’ blogger Holly Lebowitz Rossi created a video focusing on why candles are a powerful symbol that can bring us comfort.  

Check out Holly’s video about safe, cozy ways to use candles to bring comfort and peace into your home. 

  1. Tend to Your Plants 

I was never much of a plant person before the pandemic; It seems that I inherited my mother’s black thumb. Until one day my friend left a spider plant sprout on my front stoop and I decided to try my hand at being a plant parent once again. I was surprised by the effect it had on me. I looked forward to caring for my plant every day —watering, trimming, changing the soil when needed. It gave me a chance to step away from my desk and move around. And there were even more benefits I didn’t take into account! Healthline says caring for plants can lower our levels of anxiety, increase our attentiveness and memory, reduce stress levels, and even boost productivity.  

See my 5 tips for keeping healthy house plants when you don’t have a green thumb.  

  1. Do Something with Your Hands 

One of the best gifts I ever bought myself was an embroidery kit for beginners. I originally bought it for something to pass the time during quarantine. What I didn’t expect was how much it would help me when I was feeling anxious. According to Psychology Today, working with your hands can help you solve problems. Research from the University of Richmond also shows that active hands stimulate your brain to produce chemicals that balance emotions and lower anxiety. I found the simple rhythmic motion of embroidering helped me slow down and get my brain to focus on something besides bills, schedules, or household chores. Give crafting a try! Paint, sketch, knit, or crochet. Pick up a coloring book or a paint by numbers. You don’t have to be a master or create a professional product—just savor your time with your hobby and enjoy the calm you find with it.  

See how God’s divine design weaves through our lives with these stories of handmade crafts that created miracles.   

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