How Do You Calm Your Anxiety?

I, well, submerge myself within the water, drown my naked soul within the sea.

They say water, because of its soothing properties, soothes the soul. And I can’t argue with their notion, well aware of the peace it always brings to me.

I took a “Mindfulness for Anxiety” course during a time where I couldn’t manage my anxiety, seeking tools to understand it and diminish the power it likes to have. I kept having these reoccurring anxiety attacks, these episodes of isolation and complete detachment from the outside world.

I’m not one to talk about my episodes, but there was a night where I struggled to breathe, where my limbs were trembling and my cries were hysterical, fighting to calm the strain. I was drowning in what I call a never-ending black pit of thoughts, of dark, negative thoughts, too vile to even justify or comprehend. I was sitting in my dimly-lit room in silence, sitting in the loneliness and seclusion, becoming deeply buried in my own chaotic mind as I practically dug myself a mental grave. Once the walls of my bedroom began closing in, parting me from what is left of this world, I couldn’t breathe. My body shook, my eyes watered, and I just…hyperventilated. It was so difficult for me to breathe.

I called someone that night, a friend of mine who simply understood my needs. She calmed me when I couldn’t do so myself, made me laugh so I no longer felt the darkness invade my sanity.

The instructor asked us what were some of the ways we get out of that state, that calms our beings and brings us back into the world. A young woman in class said that she takes baths. The minute she gets a high level of anxiety, she runs a bath to calm her mind, to prevent herself from getting a full attack. Our instructor reveals that she does this as well, teaches us that taking baths, going for a swim, or just being with water resembles sort of a blanket around our bodies, giving us a warm hug when no one else could. Even just being near water, she explains, brings us peace, calms our breaths, quiets our minds.

So now all I do, at least for some of the time, is take baths.

Besides reading, writing, driving, ranting, meditating or watching clips of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, I’ll draw myself a bath, submerge myself in water, pretend to be surrounded by the sea. I’ll blast classical jazz in speakers, and even have a drink or two. And I’ll bathe until my thoughts grow silent, until the darkness leaves and my anxiety breathes…until my fingertips prune and the water turns cold.

I do this so my mind doesn’t revel in the chaos, so I can get a break from her (my anxiety), and not overthink about the rest of the day, or something I didn’t say to my doctor, to my friend, or sister, or something I said to the stranger on the street, but not to a coworker passing by. I do this so I don’t think about my ex being engaged, about my other exes, the men I’ve talked to, the guy friends I don’t talk to but want to talk to. I do this so I don’t think about the children dying, black men dying, black women dying, people getting discriminated, threatened, sexually assaulted, abused, trampled, beaten, shot, murdered…so I don’t think about the earth dying, burning—crumbling before me.

For once, I do this for me, for my anxiety, for my well being, for me.

And so a fellow anxious woman would like to know, what do you do?

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