Finding Little Things to Reduce Anxiety
Finding little things to reduce your anxiety can be an immeasurable help. Far too often, I think, we go right to the big picture problems. Unfortunately, in the case of anxiety, our big picture problems can’t actually be solved (there is no cure for anxiety), and even when anxiety can be treated, it can take months or even years. Finding little things to reduce anxiety in the here and now can help you get through the difficult times, day by day.
What Are the Little Things that Reduce Anxiety?
First, what do I mean when I say “little things?” Here’s what’s beautiful: I’m not referring to any one specific thing. It can be any minor, everyday thing that makes you happy and keeps you grounded. Because what causes comfort is inherently subjective, it will be personal and unique to every one of us.
The little things I do to reduce anxiety are fairly normal, and I suspect are similar to those of many others. I have a collection of certain albums that help to calm me down. I have a few specific neighborhoods of the city I like to take walks in (often while listening to the aforementioned albums). I have a number of favorite restaurants that I’ve been visiting for years. Sometimes I’ll spend a weekend with my family in the suburbs.
I’m going to take an educated guess here. I don’t know what little things you all have to reduce your anxiety, but I feel confident in assuming that, categorically, they are similar to mine. Categorically in the sense that one’s little things can probably be appeals to either ritual or nostalgia (oftentimes both).
Little Things and Rituals
When we hear “ritual,” we probably think of religion before all else. Religious rituals are rituals, of course, but they shouldn’t claim exclusivity – rituals can be any set of behaviors conducted in a specific sequence, at a specific place, for a specific purpose. Listening to a certain album when one feels anxious has just as much right to claim the title of ritual as the Requiem mass.
The benefits of ritual are well documented. Anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski observed that fishermen in the South Pacific would perform rituals to ensure protection before fishing in certain dangerous, shark-infested reefs. Though a very specific case, Malinowski’s example has an almost archetypal quality to it. We’re all going to have to fish in those shark-infested reefs sometimes. Rituals, though perhaps only minor words and deeds, help us feel stronger – by believing we can better swim with the sharks, often we can.1
Little Things and Nostalgia
Similarly, by invoking the sentimental image of a past gone by, nostalgia can assist in the maintenance of our personal identity and help us remain grounded. Psychologist Krystine Batcho further asserts nostalgia increases empathy, encourages human connection, and makes us better at solving problems.2
I know that listening to a favorite album or going away for a weekend won’t “cure” me. But they’re little things that reduce my anxiety and, more often than not, help me get through the day. In the end, that’s all I can ask of them.
- Gino, Francesca and Norton, Michael, "Why Rituals Work". Scientific American. May 14, 2013.
- Batcho, Krystine, "The Surprising Benefits of Nostalgia". Bottom Line Inc. June 1, 2018.
DeSalvo, T. (2019, February 13). Finding Little Things to Reduce Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, April 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2019/2/finding-little-things-to-reduce-anxiety