We do try our best to remain zen, but feeling nervous, stressed, or anxious at times is a fact of life. When you’re in that frenzied state, it can feel next to impossible to get a grip on yourself and calm down, no matter how irrational you know your fears are.
What we all need is coping mechanisms—little things we can do just to break the cycle. These methods sound weird, and some may even make you look ridiculous, but we promise they’re totally legit. Here’s how to calm nerves, even when you’re feeling like it’s the end of the world.
Eat a pickle.
Lovers of half sours and dill alike are in luck: Evidence suggests that fermented foods, like pickles, sauerkraut, and yogurt, work to ease neuroticism and social phobias. It is believed that the probiotics—the “good bacteria”—in those foods “favorably [change] the environment in the gut, and changes in the gut in turn influence social anxiety,” said a co-author of a recent study.
Give yourself a hug.
Hugging and cuddling with a loved one, or even a pet, is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, but your body actually releases the same stress-relieving hormones when you hug yourself, too. We’re not saying that you should necessarily make a habit of hugging yourself in public, but wrapping your arms around your body for just a minute can significantly relieve your nerves.
Visualizing positive scenarios, or just things that make you happy, is especially useful in dealing with anxiety because it puts your mind in a different place. Continuing on the same thought path when you’re anxious will only exacerbate your symptoms and make you more nervous, so switching things up with an opposite memory or even something totally unrealistic will take your mind off, well, your mind.
Put your head down.
We’re not in kindergarten anymore, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take five. Closing your eyes and resting your head for a minute or two gives your body the signal that it’s time to relax—even if it isn’t. Take a deep breath, shut your eyes, put your head down, and clear your mind for a second to reset your train of thought and start anew.
Brush your hair.
Or knit, or pet your dog, or anything involving repetitive motion. Repeating small movements helps to relax the body as it adapts into a sort of comforting “routine.”
Read more from Daily Makeover: 6 Completely Natural Ways to Fight Anxiety