11 Super-Weird Things I Do To Manage My Anxiety

These are the nonmainstream ways I help manage my anxiety.

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Since the age of 9, I've battled with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Having GAD means that my fight-or-flight response operates on a hair trigger. For most people, missing the bus to work is an unfortunate way to start the day. For a person with GAD, it could send them into a panic spiral that leaves them worried they are having a heart attack.

I've tried lots of different things to learn how to deal with anxiety and manage it, from yoga to primal screaming and everything in between. For me, the most successful way to combat my anxiety is through regular exercise, daily Prozac, and weekly therapy.


This is what works for me. It may not work for you, and I feel obligated to say that because when you're a person with anxiety, the world at large feels like it has no choice other than to tell you exactly what you need to do to fix yourself without acknowledging that, you know, people are different and different things work for different people. 

A lot of people find that regular self-care and stress relief helps keep their anxiety at bay, and I'd have to say I agree with that too. Only my self-care doesn't look like everyone else's. A spa day might be someone else's idea of self-care, but it's my idea of an actual nightmare (talking to strangers, no thank you very much)


When people hear the words "self-care," they get confused. Your self-care can be whatever works best for you, regardless of what the fine folks tell you it should be. To that end, I wanted to share some of the weirdest forms of self-care I use to help with my anxiety.

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Maybe they'll work for you, maybe they won't, but at the very least you'll know you aren't alone in the struggle and maybe you'll be inspired to practice new forms of self-care all your own. 


Here are 11 super-weird things I do to manage my anxiety:

1. Cleaning my cat's ears

My cat Batman has giant ears. A little while ago, he got a brutal ear infection. For a couple of weeks, I had to lay on top of him while he screamed and put antibiotic drops in his ears. It was a traumatizing experience for us both. 

To prevent ever having to endure this again, I now clean his ears weekly using mild vet-approved (so calm down) soap and a warm washcloth. For whatever reason, he loves it, and I love it. Petting my cat and getting close to him and taking care of him, I swear to you, is a natural stress-relief agent and the ultimate in self-care. 

2. Emptying the lint tray

I thought that when I finally moved into a Brooklyn apartment with a washer and dryer it would change my life, and it did, just not in the way that I expected. No, I don't think I do laundry any more frequently than I did before, but there is something I do a lot more now than I ever did before and I cannot. Get. Enough. Of. It. 

I empty out the lint tray of the dryer. Second, only to emptying out the vacuum cleaner, there is no other chore that makes me feel so incredibly satisfied. It's a small chore, it takes seconds, and the relief I feel chunking that lint build-up into the trap is legit cathartic. 


3. Organizing my books

I have organized my books roughly eight billion and seven times in my life. When your life feels like it's in chaos, sometimes organizing something so that it isn't chaos makes you feel like you're a little bit more in control of your universe. Or at least it does for me. 

It doesn't have to be by the author, either. I've done genre, the age I was when I read it first, or even the color of the books themselves. Organizing your books is also a great way of figuring out which books you're ready to part with, and I'm a huge fan of getting all of the excesses out of my life. 

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4. Burning incense 

I know, I'm hippy trash, but whatever. Burning sage and wafting it about my room, lighting those French incense paper strips, it all makes me feel like I'm utterly transported. My room is no longer a place I flop at the end of the day, it's a sacred and magical space. 


I know that incense isn't magic, but I honestly think sometimes that aromatherapy might be. God, I'm like, thiiiis close to getting super into essential oils, aren't I? Someone send help. Or at least an essential oils starter kit. 

5. Yelling at The Real Housewives

It bums me out that my only "friends" who watch the Real Housewives (or any other Bravo programming) are people I've sought out on the internet to talk to the shows about. But I digress. As a kid, I'd watch my father decompress from his day by yelling at the local news anchors as he watched the latest. Now, I do the same but with Housewives. 

True story: on days where anxiety truly does threaten to overwhelm me, I have been known to take my yelling to social media wherein I directly address the cast members like I'm someone who actually knows them. Tragically, I am not. Though I DO have a connection to a certain Vanderpump Rules star, sooooo. 

6. Eating too much candy

I'm overweight, my blood sugar isn't awesome right now, and I shouldn't be mainlining candy, but every once in a while I have a fever and the only prescription for said fever is a handful of Jolly Ranchers. I learned not so long ago that ignoring my cravings when they strike will only cause me more anxiety in the long run.


Life is too short to hold yourself up to unreasonable standards. Life is for us messy, fat, living, anxious, flawed people: we ought to remember to live it sometimes. And yes, before you ask, I am a life coach and I WILL train you in the arts of eating what you want. 

7. Picking off my nail polish

For many women, splurging on a nice manicure is the ultimate in self-care. For me, it's systematically picking off every single fleck of nail polish that dots my nails when I'm through with it. I don't recommend this for everyone, but I've got keratin for days and get away with such antics. 

As an alternative, I'm pretty sure that they make polish DESIGNED to be peeled off now! So try that! In fact, now that I'm writing about it, I feel obligated to hit the "buy" button on Amazon on a few of those special bottles myself.

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8. Writing about Star Trek

Look, I make my living as a cool, groovy, fat chick who is positive and quirky. Writing about Star Trek doesn't suit my brand, and I don't care. I'm currently re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation for the first time since I was a kid, and I'm writing down my thoughts on the episodes in a collection on Google Plus. 

I'm a professional writer, but writing has also been my passion. Writing about something I love for no one other than myself helps me remember why I got into this crazy game in the first place. 

9. Watching "popping" videos 

There is almost no movie on YouTube about dermatological dealings that I won't watch. Are you a strange man filming himself hacking at a cyst on his shoulder? I'll watch that! Are you a doctor and this is how you make your living? I'll watch you do that too! 

These relatively clean and simple procedures leave me feeling like I've gotten rid of something myself. It's like the lint tray cleaning thing I do but for clogged pores on strangers. Don't think about that too much. I did and I regret it. 


10. Playing with melting wax

Growing up I would take the money I earned doing chores to the local hippy store and I would buy as many candles as I could afford. So like, one. Then, I'd take it home, let it burn, meditate on the flame, and wind up playing with the hot wax. 

I didn't know at the time that this is a pretty common form of meditation for a lot of people, I know that now but I still have a hard time believing that me coating my fingers in hot wax is anything remotely normal and I don't care. 

11. Using the bathroom as much as I can

When I'm stressed out, my anxiety gets even more intense, and when this happens I very often don't drink as much water as I should. Now, to make sure I do, I play a game called "How Much Can You Pee?" where I try to pee more times in a day than I did the day before. 

Not only does this trick me into drinking more water, but it gets me up and moving which almost always gives my body a nice little boost of serotonin. Mmmmm, serotonin. 


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Rebecca Jane Stokes is an editor, freelance writer, former Senior Staff Writer for YourTango, and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek. Her bylines have appeared in Fatherly, Gizmodo, Yahoo Life, Jezebel, Apartment Therapy, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, SheKnows, and many others