How to Cure Anxiety — One Workaholic's Story, Six Techniques That Work

Charlie Hoehn was a full-time employee of mine during the making and launch of The 4-Hour Body. It was an intense period.

In this post, Charlie will share his M.E.D. (Minimum Effective Dose) for overcoming anxiety and managing workaholism. There are six techniques in total.

If you haven’t already, be sure to read his previous post on preventing burnout.

Enter Charlie

Do you feel a constant sense of dread? Do you have trouble breathing, relaxing, and sleeping? Do you worry that you’re losing control, or that you’re going to die?

In other words: are you trapped in your own personal hell?

I’ve been there (here’s the backstory), and I know what it’s like. Shallow breathing, tension in the gut, chest pains, rapid heartbeat… Every moment is exhausting, crushing, and painful. Anxiety destroys your confidence, your productivity, your relationships, and your ability to enjoy life.

For a long time, I thought I was going crazy. I was convinced that something horribly wrong was about to happen. I tired and afraid all the time, and I didn’t know how to shake it. One half of me pretended to be normal while the other half tried to keep it together.

I tried everything: meditation, yoga, high-intensity workouts, long runs, therapy, therapy books, keeping a journal, super clean diets, extended fasting, drugs, deep breathing exercises, prayer, etc. I even took a six-week course, made specifically for men who wanted to overcome anxiety.

What I discovered is that the most effective “cures” for anxiety are often free, painless, and fun. When I was doing the six techniques I cover in this post on a daily basis, I was able to get back to my normal self in less than one month

It’s my sincerest hope that this post helps you eliminate your anxiety, once and for all. Surprisingly, it’s not as hard as you think…


1. Enjoy Guilt-Free Play with Friends

“A lack of play should be treated like malnutrition: it’s a health risk to your body and mind.”

— Stuart Brown

When I asked Tim for his advice on overcoming anxiety, he said, “Remember to EXERCISE daily. That is 80% of the battle.”

I completely agree. Exercise is scientifically proven to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. But what’s the best type of exercise? Running on the treadmill for an hour? Doing hundreds of sit-ups? Self-inflicted torture via P90X? 

How about ‘None of the Above.’ All of those activities are miserable. People only do them because they think getting in shape has to be a punishment.

Exercise does not have to feel like work; it can be play. In other words, physical movement that gets your heart racing, causes you to sweat, and is legitimately FUN for you and your friends. You don’t have to track your time, measure your heart rate, or count your calories. Forget all that noise. Just focus on having fun while moving around with your friends.

In my experience, the best forms of anxiety-reducing play are outdoor sports. They are social (more than one person is required), mildly competitive, and cause everyone to break a sweat in the fresh air and sunshine. However, any fun play activity that you can do on a regular basis with your friends should work.

Almost every weekend, my friends and I play home run derby or go to the driving range. For me, taking batting practice or hitting golf balls is the most rewarding form of play. Plus it gives me an excuse to move around outside for an hour or two.

I also take frequent trips to the park with an Aerobie Flying Ring (a flat rubber Frisbee that flies really fast). The Aerobie is perfect for playing because I have to call up a friend to join me, and we both end up running around chasing it.

Playing with an Aerobie at the House of Air trampoline house in San Francisco.

Incorporating play into my weekly routine helped my anxiety and workaholism more than anything else. It was such a massive relief to hang out with my friends and have guilt-free fun again. Playing helped me decompress and unplug from work, which actually made me more productive.

After each round of catch or home run derby, I would return to my laptop feeling light and happy. And to my surprise, I was able to produce better work at a faster pace. My brain was operating at a higher level because it was happy, playful, and recharged. And I wasn’t the only one who attested to a boost in productivity and creativity because of play.

[Note from Tim: Exercise also elicits measurable biochemical effects (like increased BDNF production) that improve cognitive performance.]

My friend Ann (a book editor) texted me one afternoon to say that she was trying to work, but was so bored that she’d spent the last hour staring at a turtle swimming in a pond. I told her to come pick me up so we could play catch. We drove over to a park and played with the Aerobie for two hours in the sun. The next day, she sent me this message:

All work and no play makes Jack an anxious boy — literally. Isolating yourself erodes your health, and sitting in a chair all day is a recipe for neuroses. Get off the Internet, turn off your screens, and go have guilt-free fun playing with your friends! You’ll be less anxious, less lonely, more relaxed, and a whole lot happier.


Schedule a daily reminder to Play. Ask a friend, co-worker, or neighbor to play catch. Search for “co-ed sports” or “improv comedy,” then sign up. For a negligible fee, you get to be surrounded by fun people who like to play. Totally worth it.

You can take baby steps toward playing more, of course. You could invite a friend on a long walk, or play catch instead of drinking coffee, or take a date to the driving range. The important thing is to schedule guilt-free fun with good people.


Aim for 30 minutes per day (or more, if possible). Reducing your anxiety through play only takes 2% of your total time each week, but it’s up to you to decide that your happiness is worth the effort.

[Note from Tim: Schedule this recreation in advance or it won’t happen.  If you’re a type-A personality, work will swell to fill your unfilled calendar.]


Free, or very cheap. Try not to think of play in terms of costs. This is an investment in your health and happiness, with a guaranteed return.


Aerobie Flying Ring. This is the best toy for playing catch. It’s light, durable, portable, and extremely fun.

Charlie’s Play Picks. Check out my list of fun activities and toys.

Play by Dr. Stuart Brown. If you want to read more about the science behind play and its essential role in fueling happiness, pick up a copy of this book. It’s fantastic. Also worth reading: The Play Deficit (article) by Peter Gray.


2. Unplug from All Sources of News

“Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace.”

— Robert J. Sawyer

It took me a long time to see it, but the news was my single biggest source of anxiety.

The websites I was reading each day talked non-stop about crime, corruption, economic breakdown, and the end of the world. As a result, my fear of being attacked spun out of control. I became obsessed with protecting myself from every possible threat. I researched what to do if I was arrested and thrown in jail. I spent hundreds of dollars on food and equipment that I hoped would save me in the event of a disaster.

There was nothing inherently wrong with preparing for an emergency, but obsessing over apocalyptic scenarios, every day, for months on end?

One day, it finally dawned on me: my fear of an imaginary future was destroying my ability to enjoy the present.

And what planted those seeds of fear? The news.

When I made the commitment to cut the news out of my life completely — no TV, no conspiracy sites or “truth deliverer” blogs, ignoring / blocking every sensationalist link I came across on social media, etc. — my anxiety plummeted in less than two weeks. The negative information I removed from my conscious awareness freed me from the confines of other people’s frightening narratives.

I replaced the scary news with positive, joyful, and fun information. For instance, I listened to uplifting songs and standup comedy. I watched improv, and classic funny & happy movies. I read fun books that sparked my imagination and touched my soul. It really helped.

Of course, I didn’t bury my head in the sand. I still talked with my friends, who would inevitably bring up the noteworthy events that took place that week. And I was always surprised to discover that… I didn’t really miss anything. I was alive, and the world kept turning. That was about it.

The information you allow into your conscious awareness determines the quality of your life. In other words, you are what you think. If you are subsisting on content that’s unsettling, anxious, and soulless (see: the news, reality shows, horror movies, books written by hateful authors, porn), your mind will become stressed, scared, and cynical.

But if you are consuming content that’s joyous and playful, your mind will become happy and loving. Simple as that.


Cut anxiety-inducing information – especially the news – out of your daily routine completely! If your friends are watching the news in the same room, either change the channel or go do something else. If a scary headline appears in your Facebook feed, don’t click it – block it.

There’s no need to subject yourself to unhealthy unrealities. Replace those unsettling thoughts with positive content that will uplift you.




The “Anti-News” List. My favorite anxiety-fighting content. Just remember: Sad people tend to focus on the lyrics, while happy people just listen to the music. Don’t over-analyze the deeper implications of the art; just enjoy how it makes you feel.

BONUS POINTS: Flip the Shut-Off Switch

Whenever I’m feeling burned out, I have to force myself to unplug.

I relocate to a scenic environment where the skyline isn’t cluttered with buildings or human activity, then I disconnect from every device with a screen for a minimum of 24 hours. That means no texting, no calling, no email, no Facebook, no Instagram, and no Seinfeld. Only nature, face-to-face interactions, and books are allowed.

Unplugged nature vacations are incredibly refreshing. My mind always feels like a stuffy room that gets a sudden rush of fresh air. Instead of feeling tired all day long from a steady diet of internet content, I’m rejuvenated by real life again.

Give yourself permission to stop working and unplug. Don’t feel guilty for taking time off. This isn’t an escape from the real world – it’s a chance to reconnect with it.

3. Consistent Bedtime & Afternoon Naps

“My girlfriend asked me, ‘Did you sleep good?’  I said ‘No, I made a few mistakes.’”

— Steven Wright

I really can’t overemphasize the importance of consistent quality sleep. Every anxious person I’ve met has either been in denial about how little sleep they get, or they’re overlooking the fact that they’re going to bed at random hours every night.

One of my readers wrote this message to me after reading an early draft of my book:

“When I began forcing myself to sleep eight hours a night, my physical health problems cleared up, my emotions balanced out, and my anxiety disappeared. My mind could function and that tight feeling around my eyes vanished. Eight hours of sleep is a miracle pill.”

I was chronically in a severe sleep deficit, which took a major toll on my mental health. 

The endless stream of digital information I was taking in every waking hour only compounded the problem. And because I kept going to bed at random hours, my mind never had enough time to shut down, relax, and digest everything that poured in during the day.

During the month I cured my anxiety, I made consistent sleep one of my highest priorities. The first thing I did was optimize my bedroom for ideal sleeping conditions. Here are the steps I took:

  1. Plugged my iPhone charger in an outlet far away from my bed so I couldn’t grab my phone while I was laying down. This little obstacle prevented me from checking Facebook or watching Youtube before trying to fall asleep. [Note from Tim: I always put my iPhone on Airplane Mode or turn it off while sleeping. Even on silent, the illumination of arriving text messages is enough to wake or aggravate me.]
  2. Cranked up the air conditioning so the temperature in my bedroom was around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Kept the curtains drawn and wore a sleep mask so that my room was as dark as I could possibly make it.

Once my room was optimized, I committed to a consistent bedtime. I set a daily reminder on my iPhone called “Get Ready for Bed,” which went off at 10:00PM every night (i.e. nine hours before I wanted to wake up). As soon as it went off, I’d stop whatever I was doing, hit the bathroom, brush my teeth, and change out of my day clothes. I was dead serious about obeying my phone’s command. Even if I was in the middle of a conversation, I’d abruptly end it so I could get ready for bed.

After I finished getting ready, I’d switch my phone to silent mode, plug it into the charger that was far away from my bed, and lay down to read fiction for 15 minutes (No business or “thinking” books allowed). Then I’d turn off the lights and focus on the rhythm of my breathing until I fell asleep.

It took several nights to adjust to this change, but within a week, I was sleeping like a champion. The key was getting ready at the same time every nightIt set me in motion toward getting in bed, and ultimately re-trained my body to crave sleep at a reasonable hour.

There was another aspect of my sleep routine that was critical for healing my anxiety: I took a 20-minute nap every afternoon.

Each day, immediately after I finished lunch, I would find a spot to nap – a couch, a bench, a reclined car seat, a carpeted floor, a friend’s wedding…

I’d set an alarm on my phone for 20 minutes, lie on my back, and close my eyes. I never tried to fall asleep; I just relaxed and focused on breathing in and out. Even if I didn’t fall asleep (10-20% of the time), I always felt refreshed and calm when my alarm went off.

Naps are awesome. I wish I could be a salesman for naps. We all took them every day when we were kids, so… why should we stop taking them just because we’re older? Take a quick nap in the afternoon, even if you have to cut your lunch break short. Then force yourself to get ready for bed at the same time every night. You’ll be more relaxed, more productive, and far less anxious.


Set a daily reminder on your phone to “Get Ready for Bed,” nine hours prior to your target wake time. Set another reminder to take a nap after lunch. Plug your cell phone charger in an outlet that’s far away from your bed. Cover your windows so your bedroom is as dark as possible. Drop the temperature in your bedroom to 68 degrees.




Aim for 8 hours of consistent quality sleep each night, and one 20-minute nap every afternoon.


Relax like a Pro and 11 Tricks for Perfect Sleep. Check out Tim’s articles for more tips on taking your sleep to the next level.

Sweet Dreams Sleep Mask. The light! It buuurns! Use this mask to block it out.

Flux. The bright white light that you refer to as your “computer” might be disrupting your internal rhythm. Download the free Flux application to have your screen’s lighting automatically switch to a sunset hue in the evening.

Philips Wake-up Light. If you despise alarms as much as I do, then check out the Wake-up Light. It makes waking up gradual and pleasant.

4. Eliminate Stimulants

The physical sensations that preceded my panic attacks were the jitters (shaking hands, quivering voice) and a rapid resting heart rate. Guess what gave me both of those sensations? Coffee. And wouldn’t you know it, I was drinking 3-4 cups each day, running around like Tweek on South Park.

I decided to cut coffee out of my diet for a week. Shortly after I removed the caffeine from my bloodstream, I stopped having the jitters. My resting heart rate remained steady. The physical sensations that came with having a panic attack were no longer there, and I started calming down. [After some experimentation, I found that I could only have a half serving of coffee before I started feeling jittery. I also found that I couldn’t have caffeine past 5:00PM without disrupting my sleep routine.]

A friend of mine experienced similar results after removing aspartame. She had horrible anxiety for months but couldn’t figure out what was causing it. One day at work, she noticed that she’d finished three diet sodas in just a few hours. Her body was overloaded with caffeine and aspartame (a toxic sugar subsitute in diet drinks). As soon as she stopped drinking diet soda, her anxiety disappeared.

Sometimes, we tend to overlook the simple answers that are right in front of us.  Let’s fix that.


Cut out any substance you regularly consume that’s correlated with increased feelings of anxiety. Common culprits include: caffeineaspartamegluten, refined sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana. Keep it out of your body for one week.

If you have that substance in your house, throw it away. If the people you spend the most time with are encouraging you to consume it, politely turn them down and do something else. If you have strong cravings for that substance, find a healthy substitute you can consume instead (e.g. water, tea, sugar-free gum).

After the substance has been out of your system for seven days, you can reassess its toxicity by consuming a typical dose you’re used to taking. If your anxiety symptoms return within one hour of ingestion, you’ve found the culprit. Try to eliminate that substance for good.




5. Trauma Releasing Exercises

[Note from Charlie: This technique is going to sound bizarre. I don’t blame you if you’re skeptical, but it worked really well for me and there’s a good amount of research to back up the benefits of T.R.E.]

One of the weirdest effects of anxiety is how much tension builds up in your body. I couldn’t even take a deep breath because my stomach always trembled, like it was being stretched to its limits. Relaxing felt physically impossible.

My body was so tense because I was constantly in fight-or-flight mode. Every day, I was producing the energy needed to survive a life-threatening event. The problem was that this event was in my mind; it was imaginary and it never took place. I had all this excess energy that wasn’t being released, so I became extremely high-strung.

A friend recommended that I check out T.R.E. — Trauma Releasing Exercises, which helped him conquer his anxiety. I watched a few videos of T.R.E. on YouTube and immediately thought it was fake. The clips showed people lying on the ground as their bodies went into spastic tremors. Their movements looked comical and freaky, like they were in the middle of an exorcism.

T.R.E. was originally designed as a safe and easy way to induce tremors. Anyone who has gone through extreme trauma, from the emotionally abused to war veterans, can use these exercises to their benefit. The exercises take about 20 minutes to complete, and they’re intended to induce tremors by exhausting your leg muscles.

I learned that tremors are a natural means for mammals to discharge excess energy after a traumatic event. The tremors release our body’s surplus of adrenaline after it’s no longer needed for survival. I watched footage of antelopes, bears, and other animals that had narrowly escaped an attack. Their bodies instinctively trembled for a few minutes, and then they’d act calm and normal again. It was fascinating.

Unlike most species, adult humans typically prevent themselves from having tremors. Why? Because we avoid behavior that makes us look weak or vulnerable. In other words, we are so self-conscious that we unknowingly block our body’s natural (yet embarrassing) function during times of great stress. As a result, we make it very difficult to overcome trauma because we’re constantly holding in so much excess energy. Thankfully, T.R.E. can help.

I bought the T.R.E. book on my Kindle and went through all the exercises. After I completed the full circuit, I lied on the ground and was STUNNED as my back, hips, and legs shook rapidly in sporadic bursts for 20 minutes. The tremors weren’t painful at all; the sensation actually felt relaxing and natural. I was just astounded by how vigorously my body shook. I looked like a vibrating cell phone. After my body’s tremors finally subsided, I went to lie down on my bed and immediately fell into a deep sleep.

I performed these exercises three nights per week, for three weeks. They were hugely effective for releasing the physical tension my body was holding in. I can’t show or describe all of the exercises here, as I don’t want to take credit for a routine I didn’t create. But if you’re interested in giving T.R.E. a shot, you can check out the book (or win a free copy by leaving a comment below — see instructions at the bottom of this post).

I know T.R.E. might sound kooky, or even a little scary. But it’s really not bad at all. It’s basically just a series of stretches that help your body thaw itself out by alleviating your chronic tension. Your tremors will definitely make your body move in strange ways though, so be sure to do these exercises in a relaxed environment where you won’t feel self-conscious.


Watch the 8-minute Tremors video on T.R.E.’s official website to see how it works.


Do the exercises every other day for three weeks. Then as needed.


$10 for the book.


Trauma Releasing ExercisesThis short book explains the trauma recovery process in uncomplicated language. The last chapter includes photos and descriptions of the exercises, which elicit tremors that release deep chronic tension in the body.

6. Fix Micronutrient Deficiencies

Everyone should get tested for micronutrient deficiencies at some point. There are plenty of reasons why this is a smart move, but the most obvious is because of our changing soil. 

The vegetables we eat absorb their nutrients from the soil they grow in, and the purity (and depth) of our topsoil has been severely compromised through hyper-aggressive/monoculture agriculture and mining. So even if you are eating a seemingly natural and well-balanced diet, you could still be deficient in key nutrients your brain and body need in order to function properly.  Broccoli in one place doesn’t necessarily equal broccoli in another, for instance.  Where you get your produce matters; they could be chock-full or devoid of the vitamins, etc. depending on where you source.

Below are two of the most common nutrient deficiencies that tend to amplify anxiety:

  1. The Vitamin B club. A lot of people are deficient in B-12 (methylcobalamin — found in meat), but others might be deficient in B-2 (riboflavin — found in yogurt, spinach, almonds, and eggs), or B-5 (pantothenic acid — found in avocados, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes), or B-6 (pyridoxal phosphate — found in tuna, chicken, turkey, and cod). Fortunately, it’s possible to get the recommended dose of all the B vitamins by taking a B-complex pill once per day.
  2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. You can find omega-3 in salmon, fish oil, hemp seeds, and flax seeds. I take 2-4 servings of Nordic Natural’s cod liver oil pills each day, which contains a solid dose of the three fatty acids: EPA, DHA, and ALA.

For a few months, I was feeling unusually fatigued. I had no idea what was causing it. I was getting good sleep, I was eating healthy, and I was exercising regularly. I did some research, and found that I had a ton of symptoms for Vitamin B-12 deficiency: I felt mildly depressed, I had very little motivation, I was short of breath, my brain was foggy, and my fingers occasionally went numb.

Vitamin B-12 is in meat, fish, and certain dairy products (if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’re likely deficient in B-12). The normal range for B-12 is between 500 and 1,000 pg/ml (picograms per milliliter), and if your levels fall below 500 pg/ml, your brain ages twice as fast. In other words, if your body isn’t absorbing enough B-12, your mind rapidly deteriorates and stops functioning properly. Holy Guacamole!

When I got tested for B-12 deficiency, the results showed that my levels were 200 pg/ml — less than half of the minimum amount my body required. Even though I was eating meat almost every single day, I was still massively deficient.

I immediately began supplementing with Vitamin B-12 pills — 1,000 mcg every day, sublingually (under the tongue). Within one week, I could already feel a difference. I was less foggy and more energetic. When I got tested again for B-12 a month later, my levels had shot up to 529 pg/ml. I was back in the normal range.

A few of my friends took micronutrient deficiency tests, as well. None of them had B-12 levels as low as mine, but they were all deficient in something. One found he was deficient in magnesium. Another was deficient in selenium, while another was deficient in potassium. All of them took measures to correct their deficiencies, brought their levels back up to the normal ranges, and felt like new people. Their minds were clear and sharp, and their energy went through the roof.

One final note on deficiencies: It’s possible that your gut isn’t absorbing nutrients properly. If you suspect that’s the case, you might consider taking a probiotic supplement to introduce more healthy bacteria into your GI tract. You can also get more healthy bacteria by eating fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kimchi.


Research the nutrients mentioned above to see if you might be deficient.


Once you’ve been tested for deficiencies, ingest an ample amount of the desired nutrients (via food or supplements) for 30 days. Get tested again and re-assess.


Varies, depending on whether you’re ingesting food or supplements (pills average less than $1.50 per day). $80 for the B-12 deficiency test at Any Lab Test Now. $400 for the micronutrient test. I know, I know – it’s expensive.


[None of these resources are affiliate links. Neither Tim nor I will earn money if you decide to make a purchase through them.]

Any Lab Test Now. You can get tested for deficiencies in just a few minutes at Any Lab Test Now and have the results emailed to you within 48 hours. You can also get micronutrient tests at your doctor’s office, but (depending on which state you’re in) they will probably make you jump through a few hoops first.

Spectracell. This is the micronutrient testing lab Tim used to uncover his selenium deficiency (he used Brazil nuts to correct it).

Vitamin B-Complex Caps. This covers all of your bases for the B vitamins. These pills are free from common allergens, like soy, yeast, barley, wheat, and lactose.

Cod Liver Oil. I take 2-4 servings per day to get omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t like taking so many pills, try squeeze packets.


Final Thoughts

Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question, “Is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and they say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.”

– Bill Hicks

I couldn’t see it for a long time, but I was the creator of my own anxious reality.

I didn’t allow myself to have fun. I never slept. I drank coffee all day while staring at screens. I consumed fear-mongering news that convinced me the end was near. People absorbed and reflected my nervousness back at me, and my anxiety perpetuated itself.

I’m not crippled with anxiety anymore, and I’m not burned out. Now, my state of mind is different.

I allow myself to have guilt-free fun in everything I do. The world is a playground, my work is a game, and life is a ride. And you know what? I feel 100 times better than I ever thought I would. I’m back to my normal self.

And I have no fear that those awful feelings will ever return, because I know the antidote — play.

# # #

Want a free copy of Charlie’s book, Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety?

Leave a comment below with your favorite technique for managing or overcoming anxiety.

The top 20 comments, as selected by Charlie, will receive:

  • (1) free digital copy of Play It AwayKindle .mobi or PDF ($10 value)
  • (1) free digital copy of the Trauma Releasing Exercises workbook ($10 value)
  • Bonus: Charlie’s weekly routine during the month he healed his anxiety


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with over 400 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

503 Replies to “How to Cure Anxiety — One Workaholic's Story, Six Techniques That Work”

    1. I do the same thing Tori! I take my dog out for walks, or nap with her on the couch, or even dance in the living room together. She’s amazing at keeping me light and she definitely knows how to enjoy life. 🙂

  1. “This too shall pass,” has been a good one for me, while relates to the whole thing about it being a ride and never forgetting that.

    Perspective is also an important thing for me. All meaning is man-made. The universe doesn’t inherently say that this event is inane while that one is meaningful; that’s us. So the power that I give my anxiety could just as easily be given to any other experience or emotion and it would be just as valid.

    That’s not to say you can switch it on and off at will, but I’m definitely in a place where I have what I call “high-functioning anxiety.” I still get scared, but I’m aware of the physiological and psychological causes and that lets me keep going.

      1. Charlie! i have a problem with sleeping.but im practicing meditation now,make me feel better.but still cant sleep:( i know how suffering

    1. I agree i think that most stress and anxiety nowdays comes from the isolation in front of the computor. Turn it OFF get out there in the sun TALK to strangers and start LIVING who know it may actually be FUN 🙂 LOVE maria

  2. Thanks for another awesome post. As someone who has dealt with anxiety for my whole life, it’s great to hear success stories like this. While I have found some ways to deal with it, I’ll certainly give these a try.

    Having said that, I’ll offer something that has worked for me. This is more for getting over a specific fear or anxiety, such as negative thinking like “I’m going to die/have a heart attack/etc.” Basically, you keep a notebook with you (I recommend a small moleskin notepad) and any time a negative feeling comes up or anxiety strikes, you write down what happened. It goes something like this:

    1. Write down the situation. What happened?

    2. Write down any thoughts that came up.

    3. Write what emotions you felt, and rate their intensity on a 1-10 scale (which helps you identify later how much you are improving)

    4. Write down the thinking “traps” that you are objectively falling into. This could be thinking everything is a catastrophe or could become one, thinking something could definitely happen in the future when it’s not definite at all (fortune-telling), magnification of an insignificant problem, etc. This can be tough, but try to be objective.

    5. Pose an alternative response. This means writing out the opposite of your anxious thought/fear/negative emotion. For example, anxious people often experience rapid heart beat…if your initial thought was “I’m having a heart attack” than this last section would refute that by saying “I know that anxiety is the most likely cause of my rapid heart beat.”

    Thanks for sharing your story and tips!

    1. Great tip, Dave. I’d like to offer a similar journaling technique that I used to eliminate some of my biggest sources of stress:

      1. Write down everything you worry about on a daily or weekly basis. 3-5 words per item is fine. For instance, “panic attacks.”

      2. Put a star next to your top source of stress.

      3. Reframe it as a “How can I eliminate my ____ ?” question. In the example above, you’d write “How can I eliminate my panic attacks?” Might sound impossible, but bear with me…

      4. Come up with 3 potential solutions that you could test for eliminating that source of stress (e.g. replace coffee with water, eliminate all sources of news, etc.).

      5. Pick the simplest solution, then test it for a week. Assess after 7 days to see how you feel after that source of stress has been completely removed.

      Before you dismiss this exercise as trivial or futile, TRY IT. It’s deceptively simple but, for me, it was a life saver. Instead of sitting around and wallowing in my bad feelings, I forced myself to confront my biggest worries. I experimented with simple changes to my weekly routine, and eventually removed the major stressors in my life.

      Anyone can do these journaling techniques. They really help. Thanks for adding yours to the mix, Dave.

  3. Probably one of the best ways to tackle anxiety is to assess that your body’s fight or flight state is not relevant to the situation in which you are in at that moment.

    It’s not like a tiger is going to attack you (when fight-or-flight would be reasonable). It’s more likely that your pending email responses are going to attack you (perceived fight-or-fight).

    This is when you have to assess reality. Try seeing the big picture or move away from the situation. It should clear things up.

    1. Thanks Chris! Most anxious people will agree with you in theory, but those pesky feelings tend to not go away even when you’re being super rational. Helps to get outside, move around, and have some fun 🙂

      1. Agreed. The problem is that our Fight or Flight response can’t usually just be reasoned with, or else our ancestors would have just told themselves they were being paranoid when they heard a noise in the bush and it actually was a tiger.

    2. Agree with Charlie. Most people who’ve had panic attacks before know full well they are simply exhibiting symptoms of their condition based on nothing. That doesn’t make it feel any better a lot of the time!

  4. Favorite technique to combat anxiety is petting or playing with a dog. Their innocence, genuine attention, and excitement is incredibly relaxing.

  5. Thanks for this topic. I don’t think that I’m anxious but it’s been tough for me hard to control my anger or offensive feeling at work (I cannot diminish the ‘source’ makin me mad). The suggestions may cure this ‘negative’ feeling.

    But it may be hard for me to keep my iphone away during night.

  6. Charlie- I appreciate the great tips.As for having fun: Do you find it hard when you schedule short amounts of time? As if you need to have fun NOW and the clock is ticking? Do you have any tips on how to keep the talons of expectation from popping the balloon genuine good time?

    1. Great question, Kevin. I definitely used to feel guilty for having fun, but after I read the book Play, I realized that having guilt-free fun was actually REQUIRED for me to regain my health. It was simply a matter of giving myself permission.

      I say “a minimum of 20 minutes” because that’s a short enough chunk of time for anyone to commit to. Realistically though, I like to have a couple hours of play during the day whenever possible.

      My best tip for removing the talons of expectation (nice phrasing btw) is to turn off your cell phone. Leave it behind. That way, you’re not tempted to check the clock, distract yourself with social media, or disrupt play time with work.

  7. Tip: Don’t get anxious about fixing anxiety. Learn about yourself and understand the way you are. Like the quote above says, relax it’s a ride and you should let go and go with it.

    It’s kind of hard to suggest a cure-all because I’m always going to be anxious to some extent. I try to be mindful and learn the signs that you’re getting in trouble.

    My biggest problem was trying to find that perfect cure. Charlie’s 6 steps may work for you, they may won’t. You will definitely get something out of them though and that learning about yourself is worth it in itself.

  8. I’ve got to say I’m right there with Tim that EXERCISE is a huge part of the battle. Anytime I spend more than 3 days out of the gym (which has been more and more lately unfortunately) I can feel the dreaded anxiety work its grip over me and pull me down further and further with each passing day. The 2 hours with barbell in hand release that darkness with each rep, and the more consistent I am the closer my daily life gets to being free of anxiety/depression. However, as you noted, the squat rack, deadlifts, bench press, and all those high intensity activities can be daunting. I’m literally sitting here right now dreading getting back into the rack after a week of slacking off, even knowing how elevated my state of mind will be once I get through it. And in that regard the biggest thing I might have learned here is that exercise doesn’t have to be so extreme to get similar results. On the days the barbell is scaring the s*** out of me, I shouldn’t let that prohibit me from getting exercise at all. I look forward to implementing some less strenuous, more enjoyable forms of exercise and the new levels of consistency they will hopefully bring to my exercise regimen.

    So that’s my experience with what’s helped me the most in managing my anxiety. You have some other fantastic suggestions in here and I’m very much looking forward to trying them out. Also very much looking forward to following your work Charlie. Thanks for a great post.

  9. Playful escapism. Deep tissue massage. Hugs. Healthy comfort food. More hugs. Shiatsu. Intimate so your minds melt into each other. Ambient light, ambient music. Askesis via self-tracking. Stoicism. It’s just a ride.

  10. When I feel stressed, I go outside and shoot 100 free throws. It gets my mind completely focused on basketball and brings me back to my childhood. Number one has been the biggest help for me.

    1. Nice! That’s actually one of my favorite forms of meditation too! Drown out the world and just shoot 100 free throws. Don’t even have to count the makes or misses as that’s not why I’m doing it. It’s harder for me to sit in a chair and close my eyes then it is to simply focus on only shooting a basket.

  11. Charlie / Tim. What a great post. I’m not suffering from anxiety, but aside form the the T.R.E part, everything seems like pretty awesome advice to make your life better – anxious or not.

    Thanks for sharing

  12. F*ck Yea Charlie for crushing your anxiety! 🙂

    My favorite technique for overcoming anxiety is:

    ### Listening to Loud, Happy and Inspiring Music (spotify has tons of great songs) and deep breathing. Lots of self-talk inside my head. Doing Why Affirmations…(Why am I great at being SOOO calm and zen-like?)

  13. I like the idea of removing digital stimulants to relax. I sometime hear people say that they relax by playing games on their mobiles out just randomly checking websites… But I know it doesn’t…

    1. Time spent idling away can never be truly relaxing, because it just increases anxiety that we’re not moving ahead in life, that we’re really the lazy-good-for-nothing we secretly accuse ourselves of being. What helps for me is throwing open the windows, playing some soft music and doing some housecleaning. While I organize something as small and simple as a drawer, I’m reorganizing my mind, clearing out the cobwebs. By the time I’m done, I feel like I can conquer the world of if I so desired!

      1. Looking for inspiration here, found some from you Faigy. At this point, even thinking about working out gives me anxiety. I get so tired even after going for a walk. But if I can get the windows opened and clean something small, that’s baby steps. Not everyone can go ahead full throttle.

  14. I’ve struggled with anxiety since I was a teenager. It’s an insidiously crippling disease. After two and a half years of complete burnout, I’ve managed to turn it around though. The big change was simply deciding that, no matter what, my health and happiness were priority number one. Everything else was optional. This allowed me the freedom to say no to things I didn’t have the energy to participate in, the freedom to sleep as much as I needed, and the necessary state of mind to learn to enjoy cooking healthy food again.

    1. Totally agree. Sometimes it’s as simple as a decision like this. “Am I going to miss that con-call to get some sleep and not be a mess today? Yes, I think I will.” Health has to be #1.

      1. That’s part of the reason why I’ve chucked in my stressful, loathed job. On slow carb diet (thanks Tim) plus no wheat ever, down 16kg, and hitting the road around Oz for 6 months in a small converted van (bed, couch, microwave, fridge) and the girlfriend. What’s the point, in a spiral of misery and bad health. No point at all. And big changes can be fun. Need to fix 15 years of bad behaviour.

      2. Yes – but the problem is that we tend to forget that until we see serious effects on our health. I’ve found one of the advantages of getting older is that your body lets you know what it needs you not to do much more quickly. In my 30s I’d quite happily work (or, let’s be honest, play computer games) till 4 a.m. I’d accept feeling a bit shitty in the morning because I thought that was how mornings just were. Now I don’t have that luxury (just like I can’t drink more than a couple of glasses of wine without getting a killer hangover), but on the positive side, I’ve found out that it’s actually possible to wake up feeling rested and full of enthusiasm.

      3. Great article. My favorite way to destress is to listen to the guided relaxation audios I make. I find that feeling relaxed is a learned experience, just as we learn tension and become used to it.

        I had an opportunity to see the beneficial effects of relaxation when my external hard disk crashed two days ago. I didn’t even flinch, let alone curse. I was surprised.

        Then yesterday, my computer got a malware warning and when I quickly shut down my computer, my days worth of writing was lost. I did get ruffled by the second whammy, but more like, ok, time to take a break, rather than feeling flipped out.

        Another practice I’ve started is when I feel stressed to stop and ask, OK, what are you afraid of here? Because stress is fear, right? And when I actually name it, I find it’s easier to find a good solution, re-prioritize, reach out for support, etc.

  15. My favorite way is to just play music and/or sing. I’m a decent musician but a horrible singer, but that doesn’t really matter (just make sure you’re alone if you care about others hearing…learn not to care sometimes though…). Just belting out those notes to my favorite tunes releases so much of the emotional buildup I get sometimes. Away from an instrument, its also really fun singing in the shower and in the car by yourself, it’s like you’re free to act and express yourself however you want.

    1. I forgot to write the most critical part: sing loud and sing it like you mean it, no holding back…singing timidly will just make you feel more timid…singing loudly is what you need to do to release that inner buildup

      1. 100%. Good alternative is to do group karaoke with friends.

        I forget the exact quote, but I think it was Robert Plant who said something to this effect- “The reason I look as young as I do is because of my job.” The guy has been singing his lungs out for decades.

        Not saying that singing is the fountain of youth, but it’s definitely fun and gets you breathing heavy.

  16. hanging out with my colleagues from an outdoor shop is all fun and play despite having a PhD ( and should dedicate my life to world peace, high income or working in the government administration)…anxiety to work in an office still remains…

  17. Hi Charlie 🙂

    I find that spending time in nature and being with animals–specially dogs–helped me a lot. And your second tip, about unplugging from negative sources also applies to the people around you. It may be hard to notice at times, but some relationships are harmful and it’s better to stay alert, so you can push the eject button whenever necessary.

  18. Since I work 10-12h days I found it necessary to unwind at least twice per week. At first, I thought … Gym … but that turned out to be short lived. After few trial and errors I found my routine:

    Wednesday night, I play basketball with 13 other guys (yeah, we need the substitutions) for about 1.5 hour. This is the perfect for me. I get to socialize, trash-talk and play at a high level (for amateurs any way). I needed something during the workweek.

    Friday night I have Power Walks. Alone. Well … not alone, I have my mp3 player and lots and lots of fast and aggressive music. PW last about 1h, enough to clear my head of the entire workweek, of all the problems, tasks, to-do-s, issues and everything business related. This way, when Saturday comes, I’m fresh and ready to spend time with my family and friends.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers 🙂

  19. Very interesting article. I am not sure if these techniques will work for people for more severe anxiety (social phobia, GAD), although they could help.

  20. I’ve struggled with severe anxiety and depression since childhood. After trying the medication route years ago and not finding it helpful, routine and exercise are now what help me most. My cardio kickboxing classes help release my frustrations and make me feel powerful.

    The Trauma Releasing Exercises sound interesting, I’ll have to check that out.

    1. A difficult condition to wrestle and overcome, but doable.

      I believe there are multiple forms of anxiety and everyone is affected differently when an event occurs. I agree with ALL of Charlie’s very detailed cures. I have a few simple brief and absolutely helpful and perhaps curing remedies. They are very much in align with Charlie’s suggestions.

      1. Be open and honest with your most valuable, important and valuable people in your life. Get the weight off your back and OUT of your mind and remove all BIG secrets or inner battles by getting them out in the open.

      2. Get on a rather strict schedule with sleep and eating. Get to bed at the same time every work night and a set time on weekends. Be sure to make it a time early enough to allow you eight solid hours of sleep

      3. COMPLETELY remove ALL caffeine and alcohol and energy drinks from your diet 100%. Keep your sodium and sugar intakes in check. Eat more real proteins…not powders…meats, fish, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and eggs (highest to lowest order)

      4. Get regular exercise AND try to incorporate YOGA into your routine while you are healing. Biking swimming or running can be miraculous. YOGA will place you in extreme positions while mentally relaxing your mind about breathing in positions where it will be difficult. This is a huge boost to you when you have an event as it will build a subconscious confidence in your body to keep doing what it needs to do while your mind and heart race on.

      5. Surround yourself with supportive, understanding, loving and especially confiding people AND get the haters and negative ones out of your daily life.

      6. Set small personal goals each week. SMALL GOALS. Get them done and reward yourself in some way each time and progress the size and number of goals slowly.

      7. Get the hell out of bed. Get up the same time every day and DO something how matter how small…just do it and get a start to your day.

      8. DO NOT play hyper or violent video games. After time your mind starts to accept the world within video games as its actual reality. Reduce or stop playing totally. This includes movies and large theaters with mega sound systems. You know what I mean.

      9. Sex is a big plus. Make it happen and talk with your partner about how relaxing it is for you.

      10. Get into a local medical anxiety help group and talk with other that have the same problems and somewhat different ones. This will open your eyes to the reality and help you learn about the properties of anxiety.

      OK, there is an awesome list of tips. Now for my own perspective of what is a major belief of my own on anxiety but I have never heard about it. I am an athlete and know my body well after years of multiple types of competitions and mental/physically strenuous situations. I have ridden a bicycle around the entire united states and learned what dehydration, starvation, over exhaustion, hypothermia and more can do to my body and how tough my body actually is. However, after years of stress, large amounts of coffee and chocolates with normal amounts of alcohol I succumbed to anxiety.

      I can honestly say that I believe a large part of anxiety FOR ME has to do with the adrenal glands. I have learned that when I have consumed alcohol and other stimulant drinks and foods that it can always re-appear. I believe once you have anxiety you will always be susceptible to it, but less and less as time goes. The event of anxiety is very basic to me. I get amped up for some reason and then my body secretes adrenalin. Once that happens and I am sitting still my heart goes on a race and the mind follows. The real key is to stay as calm as you can, find someone to console and tell yourself you are going to be just fine as this has happened dozens of times and nothing bad ever actual happens except the racing heart, heavy breathing and wacky fear of the oddest things. Anyhow, I truly truly truly believe that a large part of anxiety it the result of a relaxed and perhaps damaged adrenal gland that can tend to let the strong drug of adrenalin run into your veins when you do not need it. I believe that the controlling tissues of the adrenal gland is affected by alcohols, caffeine’s and drugs immensely. I believe that these things all effect and damage the controlling tissues of the adrenal gland which allow it to open uncontrollably and let the adrenaline flow way too much into your blood stream to your heart and mind. Thus your heart and mind are literally PUMPED UP and acting like they are in an extreme battle. Once the adrenal gland is so greatly opened I believe it can be damaged and stretched to an abnormal tightness which is why an event can happen just minutes, hours or days after another and it also explains why the longer you go without an event the better you can handle more extremes. BUT, beware that…once you have experienced anxiety you can always have it again.

  21. Charlie

    I really like your article. I think most of your suggestions are right on, As a physician that developed anxiety and panic attacks in medical school, I have personal experience on how miserable it is.

    That being said I would be careful with section 6 about micronutrient deficiencies.

    I think the behavioral and life style interventions you mentioned would help many people. But I have seen many patients obsessed with trying to find something abnormal in their labs and tests that would explain their illness. If you do enough tests odds are that you will find SOMETHING wrong then go nuts trying to correct it.

    I would much rather someone follow your sleep and play recommendations rather than pound a ton of b12 and assume it fixes the problem. I don’t doubt it made you feel better, especially if you really were really that low on the b12. But judging on subjective measures of “feeling better” is very likely to be biased without some objective data to correspond.

    Lab testing for b12 is rife with issues –the mayo clinic lab podcast has more info on this-such that testing methylmalonic acid is more accurate anyway.

    I wish omega 3 was the magic bullet everyone claims it to be. All it did for me was raise my LDL cholesterol through the roof.

    Your personal experience is helpful but research studies help look past the bias in subjective experience, and in more than a few people. In that regard I don’t think omega 3 is all that great. I’m waiting for more research on omega 7. But 15 mg daily of methylfolate might be helpful for mood. Especially if you have a mfthr mutation like myself.

    There is a fine line betweeen body hacking for your benefit ane body hacking so the lab gets rich.

  22. My favorite way to reduce anxiety is through meditation. Even a couple minutes with deep breathing upon waking switches the body from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system.

    Also Yoga, snowboarding, playing the guitar, riding bikes etc… anything outside or that puts you in to a state of “flow.”

    Writing in a gratitude journal also helps to switch the focus from what you are worried about, to what you are happy about. This helps to ground and appreciate the good things in life.

  23. Something else before you can start this stuff: you have to clean your cache of stuff that has been bugging you. It may be little crap you have been putting off. You should have that eliminated (sorry Tim!), but if you haven’t, that is a quick fix. I have fallen off the wagon, but I have found doing that gets you in a better place to start working on the play piece.

  24. My best way of alleviating anxiety: hugging my dogs and taking them on walks. Forces me to focus on another living thing. Makes me realize my reality is greater than myself.


  25. Thanks Charlie and Tim for the great two-parter. I gave up Facebook for Lent a few years ago, got re-addicted and then just pulled the plug again February 1. It continues to be one of the best things for removing stress and comparison envy. And I learned to play soccer–it’s so zen–all I can think about for an hour and a half is “Where’s the damn ball?” and run run run run run.

  26. Congrats on the new book Charlie!

    I’ve been writing in the Five Minute Journal, which I received in one of Tim’s Quarterly shipments. By spending just 5 minutes each day reflecting on what I’m grateful for, the amazing things that happened, and how I could make things better, I can see patterns emerging about what makes me happy.

    Knowing that I’ll be writing about what amazing things happened each day also pushes me to do more, to try new things, and be true to what I like doing – this week it’s been lots of snowboarding with my brother!

  27. I wish I could relax. I have PTSD and have tried all sorts of things. Great ideas. I have never heard of the T.R.E. I’ll have to give it a try, as well as your book.

  28. Transcendental Meditation. Fantastic stuff! I notice a difference as soon as I stray from my TM practice. I’m less torqued up during the day, more relaxed in the face of conflict, and I sleep better, as well.

  29. II recognise a few of these symptoms, I eat well and I love my Karate but my sleep has been disturbed by a couple of toilet breaks during the night due to my cups of tea after work. I seriously missing the play list, so that is the first thing on list to do immediately. I have reduced my TV viewing and internet use but I think I need to do more in this area us I didn’t realise how much the bad news is affecting me. I might buy Charlies book.

    By the way Tim Ferris’s book on Health &Fitness that I got through about 3/4 of it because it belongs to my brother who I was visiting interstate was bloody funny, I love the fact that he uses himself as a human guineapig.

  30. Great post Charlie!

    This was exactly what I needed as I’ve been in full-throttle mode for the past 2 months and am not having any fun right now.

    My wife and I have bitched and moaned for months and months about not going to bed early enough every night as our three munchkins are all early risers, but we just haven’t setup the boundaries to kick us into gear.

    So, here are the actions I just took and will add to as I get this stuff dialed in:

    1. Set a reminder in my calendar at 10pm every night to get ready for bed as 7am would be ideal to wake up refreshed from.

    2. Put a nap in my calendar for 2pm every day. My wife takes one around then after putting the kids down, and I’ve enjoyed the few I’ve actually taken the time to do, but have let Parkinson’s Law run amok.

    3. Just bought the TRE book. A holistic MD I’ve gone to for years told me about adrenal fatigue and gave me a protocol to help reverse it with nutrition and better sleep patterns, but I’m thinking TRE will help dump the excess adrenal hormones from my system and speed up the process. Very much looking forward to doing those exercises!

    4. I scheduled a long motorcycle ride with a buddy for Friday as it’s my best head clearing activity and the weather is spectacular now (Central CA). 250+ miles will be just what I need and will be more intentional to schedule rides as the weather is getting so nice.

    Thanks for sharing what’s worked for you as this is exactly what I needed to snap out of the rut I’ve been in with work!!

  31. This was going so well until 4, 5, and 6! 1-3 are dead on and are proven in literature. 4 makes sense with caffeine, but when he talks about toxins and aspartame he’s losing me. Cutting out aspartame, TRE, and some supplements is just a way to spend money for some placebo. I guess whatever works though. I just don’t like how half the article was based on sound science then took a left turn. But TRE is kinda insulting to those who actually have truama. Shaking on the ground ain’t gonna cure your 3 tours in Afghanistan or your 1 on 1 time with your uncle. Might take your mind off it for a second, but you probably need some emotional therapy for that one.

    Glad your anxiety was cured though. Mine still flares up time to time, but sleep and activity really helped me. Never been a conspiracy guy, so not too worried about the news– but it is a time waster for sure. Although, above all, accepting the fact that I had anxiety and not searching for a way to cure it was the best thing I ever did. Kinda sounds counter-intuitive, but the day I stopped dwelling on a lack of a cure was the day I got better. Kinda Buddhist approach. I never would say I’m cured, but I live with anxiety and rarely have any abnormal anxiety anymore.

    1. Funny you would say that, Mark. Dr. Berceli actually developed TRE after working in war-torn areas as a tool to release trauma. He works with soldiers and veterans too.

      There are a few testimonials on YouTube by veterans on how it helped them cope with PTSD better.

      Try it out. You never know. 🙂

      PS: Anyone considering getting the book, get the DVD instead. It has a brief description of the entire process (which is more than enough if you dont want to go deep into the theory), and a real-time demonstration of all the exercises that you can follow along with.

    2. I’ll admit I don’t know how I feel in terms of TRE because I’d never heard of it before this article, but I disagree about your problems with the other points.

      I will say that even moderate amounts of alcohol (As in getting even just tipsy a couple times a week) definitely exacerbates anxiety for me. Aspartame is a frequent target of health concerns due to the “Nancy Markle” email that spread like wildfire (and still does to an extent), so I agree that it’s maybe irrelevant either way; but at the same time, Charlie did link to a study that was done, so I’m not sure. Marijuana is more than adequately proven to cause anxiety, so I’m not sure.

      In terms of supplements, I know Charlie didn’t mention St. John’s Wort, but when taken with antidepressants it can cause Seratonin Syndrome. If it can cause that kind of condition, I would argue that it’s a little heavier than placebo, but it’s also worth pointing out that anxiety and depression comes in a spectrum, and a lot of people who only experience a relatively mild depression or anxiety do find that supplements help. Burnout, as this article addresses, may well be helped by supplements, whereas something like agoraphobia probably wouldn’t be.

      Sorry if I sound overly critical here!

    3. Hi Mark, thanks for voicing your concerns. One thing I noticed while working with Tim on The 4-Hour Body is that there are always disagreements and skepticism about what actually works when it comes to individual health. I have this at the beginning of my book, and I should have included it in the post (I’ll probably add it in after this):

      “I am not a health care professional, and while a lot of these chapters contain actionable advice that you can use in your life, this book is about MY experiences curing MY anxiety. What I did might work for you, or it might not. You need to figure that out for yourself by using your own judgment, not just by blindly following my advice (or anyone’s advice, really).”

      What worked for me is backed up by a good amount of data and scientific research. The B12 may have been a placebo, I suppose, but I was tracking how I felt during the weeks I made that change. It helped my mental clarity significantly.

      The one part of your comment I took issue with was the suggestion that TRE could cure the psychological effects of war. I didn’t make that claim, nor did I mean to trivialize what soldiers experience in any way. But Yash (above) is right in that Dr. Berceli developed that technique in war-torn areas of the world. It’s helped many soldiers / veterans.

      Thanks for your thoughts!


      1. You mentioned a ton of research backing up TRE. Any references? I’ve been provided with some TRE exercises by my healthcare contact. They mentioned research too but the references they provided were only to the inventor’s material.

        There is strong snake oily smell on TRE and I have been trying to find research on it with no results so far. (That is how i found this article by the way)

    4. Have you tried TRE Mark? I was diagnosed with severe PTSD and TRE has changed my life. Give it a shot before you dismiss it, you may be surprised : )

  32. I appreciate this post and the focus on a holistic approach. Reducing caffeine was a big one for me as well as a regular exercise. A daily probiotic also helped. Getting away from the news and spending time outdoors is key as well. I also found some great breathing apps that really helped sync my breath and heartbeat to just slow down and be present with the breath. Cheers!

  33. I recently read about Ivan Lendl and how he made to #1 in the tennis rankings by reducing his anxiety. This technique has worked well for me.

    He called it the “Witnessing Technique” for coping. This explains it best:

    “As Lendl drove to an autographing session at a cocktail party one evening, he described how it worked. “I try to get outside of my mind and simply observe what Ivan is doing. So right now, I say to myself, ‘Ivan has just made a left turn. He’s driving into the club; he’s looking at the BMW ahead, which has brake lights on. Now he’s putting his foot on his brake, because he sees a policeman who is going to check to ask where is going. He is not looking forward to this cocktail party at all, but he is going to try to make the best out of it. Now the policeman is waving him on, and he is parking his car.'”

    The same exercise can obviously be applied to tennis. “Say you’re nervous before a match,” Lendl explain. “You admit it to yourself. You say, “S—, Ivan is nervous today. But he’s going to snap out of it.’ You describe what you are feeling, and then you let go of it. And it’s over.” Or, as Castori puts it, “The negativity passes because you haven’t been judging the situation, you’ve just been observing it.”*

    *Copied From:

    I use this technique when any anxiety pops up. Firstly thinking of myself in the 3rd person instantly puts a smile on my face; by picturing myself as some guy from Eastern Europe learning English for the first time.

    Secondly it gives me ‘permission’ to feel better. I realize ‘making a choice’ is easier said than done. However witnessing your actions makes the choice to not feel anxious an easier one…

  34. I believe Leo Babauta said it best over on Zen Habits. It’s a technique that is also free, effective, and keeps you in the moment: breathing. Here’s what Babauta has to say:


    If you feel overwhelmed, breathe. It will calm you and release the tensions.

    If you are worried about something coming up, or caught up in something that already happened, breathe. It will bring you back to the present.

    If you are moving too fast, breathe. It will remind you to slow down, and enjoy life more.

    Breathe, and enjoy each moment of this life. They’re too fleeting and few to waste.

    I’ve found that the busiest parts of the day when I feel the most overwhelmed, the best thing I can do is stop, close my eyes, and just breathe.

  35. Along with vitamins, I have found that some Essential oils have helped me as well. I concur that when growers produce the same crop year after, there is a reduction of a available nutrient. That being said, cultural practices of crop rotation and better soil testing have lead to better crop quality in commercial farming…but there is no substitute for home grown. Grow a garden or join a co-operative program where food items are grown closer and nutrient quality is better. Cheers!

  36. I’m a musician and get anxiety like a mofo… even on the phone or trying to answer an email. There are times I’ve tried to write in a room by myself and got everything from sweaty palms to the crazy heartbeat and stuff.

    One time, I got invited to play on a national broadcast before an audience of 4400. Oddly enough, I was nervous about the stuff that didn’t matter and felt no worries at all about the actual performance. It might have been the “novelty” of the situation or the fact I was in shock. When I got the call, I realized that this chance might never come again. I also acknowledged that despite my excitement, there was no guarantee that anything further would come from it.

    So, I made the decision that I would go to have a great time and not even bother considering any potential future outcomes, good or bad. The singer I accompanied on the piano (and just met) had one run through, went out and did it, and had that lightning in a bottle moment. Best performance ever and a total blast.

      1. Honestly, I’ve never tried them. A number of musicians swear by them, but I’m so personally averse to medication that I won’t even touch an aspirin. I won’t hate on those who do, but I’m not willing to experiment with them. (Don’t let TF read that last sentence!)

        It might be my limited understanding, but I always saw the “greater problem” with anxiety as mental/emotional and not being able to focus on the task at hand. Worrying about the result, inundating myself with negative self-talk, and freaking out about mistakes do a lot more damage to me than shaking hands and my heart beating out of my chest. It may sound kind of weird, but I think I kind of need the latter!

        In the particular instance I described above, I guess I was just so struck with it that I decided the mistakes and results didn’t matter and just went into it to enjoy it. Why it was easier for me to make and follow through with that decision before an audience of 4400 than it was before an audience of 20, I have no clue!

        1. Congratulations. Good for you if you could manage it. it shows your anxiety was not high enough, if so you would be desperate for help, including medication. I find that when one’s coping mechanisms fail it is hard to return to a tolerable level of anxiety.

        2. Gabriel –

          Interesting… I wasn’t aware I even gave you enough information to come to that conclusion. I mentioned one instance of success overcoming anxiety and referred to many more of non-success (without any details on the latter).

          Not everyone believes in medication, regardless of their level of anxiety or “desperation.” Would you recommend beta blockers – a heart medication – to ANYONE who suffers from anxiety? Or is it just musicians? Would you be saying to anyone else responding to this thread that “if you REALLY had anxiety, then you’d be desperate for anything to solve it including medication”?

          I don’t mean to come across too strong, but I’m really not understanding your logic, here.

  37. Good article! Anxiety definitely needs to be kept in check and these are some great suggestions. However, I’d have to disagree on the B vitamins/mineral deficiency thing. Your better off just eating a healthy, well-balanced diet than you are trying to cure specific deficiencies somehow.

    In the words of world renown strength and fitness coach Scott Abel:

    “Oh yes, the “B” vitamins – sure to increase the cost of your urine content – A diabetic intervention study chose 238 participants who had kidney disease and either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and assigned these people to one of two groups – 1) one group received a combination of folic acid, vitamin B6, and the other group received the placebo – And the findings? – “The group taking the supplements had WORSE kidney function and twice as many medically compromising vascular events, compared to those taking the placebo.” – once again we see in controlled studies that isolated vitamins intake, make you sicker and metabolically imbalanced – not healthier! (Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) April 2010)”

    Just received your book today.. looking forward to the read!


    1. Taking folic acid instead of methylfolate is dangerous. And it can’t be taken without methylcobalamin either (it will deplete it fast). Very poorly designed study.

  38. The best way I have found to stop a panic attack is similar to the thinking behind T.R.E.

    You basically allow yourself to feel all the anxiois feelings, emotions, and physical manifestations and they will eventually pass. Dare them to do their worst to you. Really tell the panic to give you hell the feel it go until completion. You’ll be safe and then it will dissipate.

    1. Your comment reminded me of that scene in fight club with the acid on the hand haha. “Stay with the pain!”

      But this is kinda a buddhist way of thinking about it. The real insidious problem with anxiety is dwelling on the situation and the anticipatory dread of anxiety– not the anxiety itself. While anxiety really sucks, you may never be able to control it or eradicate it. You must then accept it. The only thing you can control is how you view it. Pain will always be there, but suffering doesn’t have to be. Once you alleviate feeling bad and all that’s left is the actual anxiety, it gets a lot better. Mine is pretty much gone, but like an alcoholic I never say I’m really cured haha.

    2. Elliot Hulse had a video about this some time ago. Called it “bioenergetic catharsis”. Basically allowing all those random movement patterns to manifest in a crazy outburst of all your pentup energy. [Moderator: Link Removed]

  39. Put here weeks ago, I experienced a post menopausal hip fracture and complete joint replacement. I cannot describe the tension that is building in my body. I am anxious to learn ways to quickly dissipate this tension . Please consider me in this contest to win a copy of Trauma Releasing Exercises.

  40. The article was great. I can relate to much of this. I recently added hula hooping as a fun way to play and exercise. The great thing is you can share the activity with others or alone.

  41. I like to decompress by spending time outside with my daughters, just walking, riding bikes, or kicking a soccer ball around. We also like to go the beach to walk and breathe in the salty air and put our toes in the sand….Ahhhh……instant relaxation! I agree with the pet therapy also….playing with our cats helps to reduce anxiety.

  42. Loved your article…really great stuff. Especially interested in the T.R.E. Never heard of that before. As a BodyMindConnection Coach dealing with people who suffer Stress, Depression and Anxiety this could be really valuable tool. Thanks for sharing. Going to give that a go with me first.

  43. Have you tried using Krill Oil for your omega 3’s?

    I’ve dabbled with cod liver oil, regular fish oil capsules, and krill oil blows them out of the water for me. After a single dose, my ability to concentrate and my overall energy spikes considerably. Supposedly, it’s because the fatty acids in this oil are phospholipid bound, instead of in triglyceride form like regular fish and cod liver oil. The fats in our own cell walls are in the phospholipid form, and so this makes krill oil much more bioavailable for our bodies.

    This seemed to be the best value brand for the money on amazon. Highly recommended!

  44. One of the best realizations for me was when it occurred to me that if my mind could take me to hell, I could teach it how to get out of hell, too.

    Another was realizing just because I was thinking something or feeling something didn’t make it true.

    Thanks for the tips!

    1. Also, a big player in my greater emotional resilience in the last few years has been Oneness Blessings & meditation. Connecting to a sense of grace, mystery and community has been key. 🙂

  45. Yes! Thank you so much for posting this! A simple and effective starter kit for all of us adults who have forgotten how to play – of course the gift of play is that it is infinite, so it is also always a learning process.

    Water is something that is especially effective in helping me to decompress and breathe! Drinking water, taking a long bath or shower, playing in a creek, and finding a pool to thrash around in like a sea otter – it’s all good! Playing my drum kit is very relaxing as well – especially for my voice somehow.

    What’s really fun though, is making faces! We tend to hold a lot of tension in our faces – everyday I give my face a massage from the outside, using my fingers and hands, and also from the inside, by contorting and twisting my face, sometimes in the mirror, sometimes not. It’s a good way to raise awareness as to where you tend to hold tension and also helps break it up.

    @Tori, did you ever see that book Guardians Of Being by Eckhart Tolle? Nothing cheesy about it friend – animals are good friends and have so much to teach : )

  46. I feel like you just singlehandedly, without knowing me, told me what has been wrong with me lately, I cannot wait to wake up in the morning, and try to begin to start applying these things to my life!

  47. My favorite pre-bed relaxation read is poetry. Why? Because its beautiful and I love how it makes me feel, but I never understand it well to really re-engage my mind like most fiction does.

  48. Hey Charlie,

    Funny thing with anxiety is you can experience if for years and not realize the damaging effect it is having on your mental and physical health the people around you.

    It didn’t occur to me until I was in nursing school that anxiety can be crippling. Especially if you think you are getting sick or contracting illness in the work place all the time…

    But now I reflect that it has impacted me at almost every stage…education, social relationships, sports performance, etc.

    Great post…

    Ever since I got a dog I try to get out and hike in a de-stimulating environment …

  49. I have struggled with anxiety most, if not all of my life. I didn’t really know what it was until I was in college and realized what I was feeling was not what others’ were experiencing. Medication helps tremendously, but I still get breakthrough bouts that can severely incapacitate me.

    What I found really helps me is

    1. Mindfulness-you have to be aware of what you are feeling. I’ve had weeks where I was constantly worried/on edge and would overeat, couldn’t sleep, was snappy. Once I realized/visualized/became aware of my anxiety (racing heart rate/thoughts, stomach upset, etc) it didn’t necessarily go away but I don’t let it control me.

    2. Write things down-I now write down things that I need to do, are bothering me, worried about and magically, the anxiety goes away.

    3. Distraction-kind of the opposite of mindfulness, I found that once I know anxiety was affecting me, I can concentrate on other things which reduces the anxiety, whether intense exercise, being absorbed in a book, playing a video game.

  50. My anxiety peaked as my father was diagnosed and subsequently died of cancer in a 16 week span. I didn’t realize for a long time that I had something very akin to PTSD after the experience.

    The tremor exercises sound really interesting. I have never heard of them until this blog post. I wonder if they might be a breakthrough. I have had Rx for anxiety since dad’s ordeal and I don’t think I need it anymore. I’d really rather try these alternatives.

  51. I definitely find yoga to be the best thing for me – I start a class with no neck and all breathing reaching only as far as my chest and and a class lengthened, strengthened, renewed, recharged and revived. Sometimes I end up in a tearful puddle in corpse pose, but I find that emotional release as critical as any physical challenge.

  52. As a young person struggling with post-graduate life, searching for meaningful work, relationships and friends – this article was exactly what I needed.

    I recently moved to New York City to pursue Improv comedy after taking a class last month in Chicago. It changed my life. This article provides me with more ways to continue that progression away from anxiety and closer to a satisfying peace of mind.

    My advice on reducing anxiety: Always be yourself. Don’t spend your precious time trying to meet the expectations of others. Wake up in the morning and remind yourself about your goals, your ambitions and your desires. These will ground you, in YOU, and help you remain focused and alert. Anxiety will be replaced by productivity and happiness.

    Good luck everyone. And, thank you, Charlie.

  53. Fantastic article Charlie. My favorite technique is to listen to deep relaxation audio in my car at lunchtime. Really helps break up the day like your nap suggestion. Thanks!

  54. I used to have anxiety a couple of years ago……not sure if it was intuition or just accident that I started practicing Yoga and also started doing breathing exercises….(“quantum light breath” helped me a lot which I did for sometime).

    Over time, as I got more experienced with Yoga and energy, I realized that most people (especially men) are not aware of their “energy” bodies. Women usually are very much in tune with their energy bodies (I think the reason for this is differences in pelvic structure of men and women).

    In any case, anxiety, in my opinion, is a result of trapped energy (when energy is not able to move freely through the body – it manifests in different forms – anxiety, anger, sexual dysfunctions etc.

    When you get anxious, pay attention to where in your body you feel the anxiety….for me it was the belly area.

    I think the TRE mentioned here helps somehow with moving energy through the body better.

    Simple breathing in your belly for 15 minutes every morning can do miracles as well.

  55. Whatever you choose to do to release/overcome anxiety, just make sure you’re really present. You can’t be fully present and be anxious at the same time. For me, spending time playing with my kids works a treat, as does any form of exercise, so long as I focus on the exercise itself.

  56. Love it Charlie. My brother and I’s favorite evening play activity is called “Drunk Driving”. Fill a Nalgene up with your favorite 3 buck chuck wine from Trader Joes. Then head down to your local golf driving range. Golf is fun when its mildly competitive and involves drinking!

  57. 1. I love to go to the Reflexologist at the shopping mall. She gives a very intense foot and leg massage that leaves me feeling terrific

    2. Feed birds at the park. Makes me feel like a million dolars to feed wild animals

    3. Self hypnosis. I was trained in the pain clinic of our state university to lead hypnosis in others for the sake of pain research and relief. As part of that training I was taught self-hypnosis. Once you learn the procedure it’s very simple and effective

    4. Practicing “tiny habits’ as taught by BJ Fogg at Stanford. He teaches a method for learning new habits and it gives me a feeling of mastry in small things (or should I say “tiny”) that calms me down.


  58. I use “to do” lists to manage anxiety. I write out everything that is on my plate and prioritize tasks, often planning when I will do them. Seeing everything that I need to do on paper and seeing an actual plan to get everything done puts me back in the driver’s seat and it all feel much less overwhelming. Also, I usually add some quick tasks, so that I can start crossing things off my list right away and feel like I have accomplished something.

    I am really excited to read this book. I was recently in my hometown and had dinner with a wonderful old friend. He’s the type of guy that everyone wants to be around… Always happy and focuses on what is important. He asked me, “so what do you like to do for fun these days?” I stared at him speechless. I honestly could not remember the last time I had fun. Between raising two kids, managing a high stress career, and trying not to be the world’s crappiest wife, fun was just something I didn’t have time for. This realization shocked and terrified me, and I decided that fun needed to be a part of my life once more.

  59. Interesting post! I’m taking away some good tips here, esp the part about tuning out the news. but I really must heed Tim’s advice to actually *schedule* these techniques because for us type A’s it’s very easy to fill all the gaps w/ work and “have to’s.” I am the type to pack my days and always thought I thrived on it but recently noticed how burnt out I’ve become and how sick I am of meetings after work and weeks filled with obligations instead of anything fun. I became exhausted and bitter about some commitments that should have been fun. It started to affect my relationships because I never had time for my family because I made myself so busy. I thought about scaling back for years but the time was never right. There was *always* a project or really an excuse holding me back. Unfortunately it took a major health scare to put it in perspective for me. If I were to die today would I want my last day to be spent indoors in a a meeting? And these were volunteer meetings! I wasn’t even getting paid! So I spent a Monday morning composing my “resignation letters” to various boards and organizations. I saved them all in a file called “the art of letting go” and upon emailing them immediately felt better. The funny thing to me was all the replies I got from fellow volunteers and colleagues telling me how they completely understood and wistfully wished they could do the same. They can! I’m not glued to my calendar or phone anymore and I can easily plan a massage or a haircut or make time for a bike ride or yoga class since I now have time to fit it in. Thanks so much for the writing this post! I admire your courage, Charlie.

  60. Excellent posts on anxiety! I’ve suffered from it for 15 years. For me I found getting everything (all my open loops) out of my head. I use a system called GTD (Get a Things Done). Everything I want, need, or have to do, no matter how far or immediate in the future, I get out of my head and on to paper (my mental inbox). Once it’s out of my head, I’m not afraid of forgetting about it. The system also goes into how to process your inbox which I won’t get into but the point is, it gets all the things making me anxious out of my mental RAM.

  61. I find that my anxiety centers around trying to fill every moment of my time with productivity. I make lists of to-dos and feel guilty when I’m not working on them. To break this cycle, I usually need to set aside time for ‘pointless’ activity.

    When I recognize that tightness in my chest while I’m being ‘productive’, I take a break to really enjoy something. For me, this usually just a cup of good coffee. While I sit with it, I just pay attention to enjoying the coffee, and nothing else. Taking an idea from Tim and keeping the barriers to entry low, I’ll set aside just a minimum 2 minutes of this nonproductive activity (which usually becomes ten).

  62. Congrats on taking back your life, Charlie, and for sharing your story for others. Your removal of news reminded me of something Andrew Weil once said. He said you need to take a news break. Constant exposure to bad, horrible things (the news) makes you feel powerless and frightened. With chronic exposure your body doesn’t know these things aren’t happening to YOU. I stopped watching the news that day. I’m not missing anything. Bad news travels fast and there are no shortages of transmission. I am still aware of the world around me I’m just not locked in. There is only this one life and I feel I owe it to my ancestors to lead as fun and fulfilling life as I can. This is not a dress rehearsal! (I am a former workaholic, cured and retired!!).

  63. Many people act as if the body’s responses of anxiety or fear are some how “lower” than how the rational mind operates, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

    The body and the mind are intrinsically linked together. How you treat your body effects how and what you think about. This can be proven by that fact that many of us are able to think more clearly, get more work done, and be more productive when we eat healthy, get exercise, and drink plenty of water.

    Studies have show that exercise and diet have a direct effect on hormone levels such as Testosterone and GH. Both of which, especially testosterone, has been proven to reduce instances of depression.

    We need to stop treating the body as if it were some “lower” aspect of our being, as if it the mind would be capable of pursuing its ideals if it weren’t tethered to the body. The fact is, they both need to be optimally functioning in order for one or the other to be able to function at full capacity or anywhere near it!

  64. Bikram works well for me. I love the feeling of being physically wrung out at the end of class, the calm of the guided class and focusing on my breath to slow down my heart rate while struggling just to get through class. One of our teachers likes to say during the savasanas that you’re just a body on a mat. Somehow I find this incredibly soothing. That change to my life promoted me to eat cleaner and quit gluten, which was life changing-I was able to come off a low dose andi-depressant after ten years. Thank you for all these tips, I don’t doubt the effectiveness of TRE for someone like me who’s had low grade chronic stress, I can’t imagine the effect on someone who’s been to war or suffered childhood abuse though. I suspect our bodies are more intelligent than we realize and it would be much harder to eliminate/reduce intense grief/suffering that’s trapped in the body.

    Oh and another good one for me is Pandora’s chill out and 90’s hip hop channels while driving.

    And deep tissue ( to the point of pain) massage.

  65. Helpful read! I am a freelancer and often work from home. I find that if i stay cooped up in the house for too long, my world becomes smaller and many anxieties begin to develop. Purposely finding myself outdoors or in another environment calms me down and usually inspires me to do fun, side projects.

    I also make sure that I reflect each day on the things, events, or people im grateful for or appreciate. I write this down either in a journal or a piece of paper and drop it into a happy jar. On the days when im feeling down, i can look back on these and they help to take me out of a tight spot.

  66. Thanks for the article Charlie. This is so important for everyone these days, not just internet workers.

    I run an outdoor adventure website so I have to get outside once in a while for new content for the website. I feel good on those outdoor days or on days I hit the CrossFit gym or play some lunchtime floor hockey. I eat mostly paleo but can’t help but wonder if I’m deficient in something as I don’t feel 100% many days. I’m going to look into those micronutrient tests.

  67. Anxiety sends me out too far away from myself, like I’m in space trying to land on an unknown planet….so I pull out my family photo albums. Flipping through the eras of thick black and whites, seeing those shiny faces and embracing the recognition factors brings me to such a profound comfort level. All kinds of emotions are brought up and perhaps they replace the chaos just long enough for me to catch my breath. It helps me to simply change my mind.

  68. Yes Tim, great article!! You are spot on with micronutrient deficiencies–especially if you are vegan (I am). One note: methylcobalamin is better absorbed and retained in your tissues than cyanocobalamin but is a little more difficult to find. Cyanocobalamin is most common in cheap B-12 supplements, energy drinks etc. In fact, skip the energy drinks altogether and brew some homemade kombucha. Again, you are right on with probiotics and kombucha has lots with plenty of benefits. Making a batch is super easy, fun and very inexpensive. Finally with respect to unplugging, I get a massive workout by volunteering at a farm animal rescue called Farm Sanctuary. Once a week every Thursday, I leave Los Angeles and drive up to the farm for animal health checks. Tons of physical activity (try trimming pigs and goats hooves for several hours…), fresh air, and most importantly a connection with all types of animals I would not otherwise get a chance to be close to. Although I am helping animals, it is my sanctuary. My mental, spiritual and physical health benefit more from this than anything else I do.

  69. I used to look around and see mass society ignoring their health and life as if it didn’t matter. I knew there was a better way. Then I began finding people like Tim and Charlie who opened my eyes to “the new cool” which is health, happiness, and self improvement.

    I’m glad I found you guys. Sharing your stories and life lessons has greatly impacted my life for the better. Because of your many successes, I have the drive to move forward everyday.

    Thank you

  70. While I very appreciate the information Charlie has presented here, I have to give a differing view point.

    I remember the first time I was in my teens and experienced severe anxiety, I thought I was going crazy. In an effort to find a solution, a day or so later I read some articles, quite similar to Charlie’s, about overcoming anxiety in one’s life.

    The suggestions revolved around doing exercise, having fun, cutting out caffeine, and getting enough sleep. As I tried to incorporate them into my life over the next few weeks or so, I found that, in the big picture of the anxiety I was experiencing, they were completely unhelpful. I would feel a little better after a good workout, jog, or spending enjoyable time with friends, but overall nothing about my anxiety really changed. I felt devastated, and I was sure I was doing them, the activities, wrong or that I wasn’t committed enough to them. The sleep one was difficult to do because I was far, far too anxious to sleep at night. In the end, the failure of the methods made me feel even more anxious.

    That first period of severe anxiety happened 14 years ago. In those 14 years since then and through my search for a way to treat my severe anxiety, I have found that there are two types of anxiety. There is mild to moderate anxiety, which while only mild to moderate still feels terrible. This level of anxiety is greatly helped by activities like having fun, exercising, and getting good sleep.

    Beyond moderate anxiety, however, lies a whole world of severe, and beyond, anxiety levels. This is anxiety that makes it impossible to even think of sleep and much less function in any normal manner on a day to day basis. In my opinion, this type of severe anxiety requires professional treatment of some kind. It took me a long time realize that it wasn’t a failure of certain anxiety self-treatment methods, but rather that anxiety, like other emotions, comes in all different amounts, types, and intensities. If I had know that truth sooner, i would have been able to get real help sooner.

    The take-home message is that if methods such as exercise, sleep, cutting out caffeine, and having fun don’t work for you, don’t hesitate to get professional help. Things like CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) or medications can be of significant use for treating severe anxiety.

    1. Totally agree J, thanks so much for writing this out. If the techniques you can try on your own aren’t working, reach out to a professional. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

  71. Thank you Charlie, this is a very helpful post. What has worked for me for many years is doing a Loving-Kindness type of meditation. You start with yourself (that is a rule!), and then you apply it to the people you care about one by one. Call up a picture of that person in your mind. Then say, or think:

    “May this person [you may use person’s name here] be free of danger and harm.

    May this person be free of fear and rage.

    May this person have mental happiness, physical happiness, ease of well-being and long life.”

    You become suffused with the feeling of that person, you experience a growing sense of calm, and you let yourself become free. This helped me with anxiety about my children.

  72. To overcome anxiety, I write down what is troubling me. Below that I write down:

    1. Things I can do to prevent the anxiety causing event from occuring.

    2. Things I can do to cope with the aftermath if the event does occur.

    Then I prioritize, sequence and schedule the tasks written under point 1, and start taking action on the first task. I find that this gives me a sense of control and progress and the anxiety goes away 99% of the time.

  73. Thank you Charlie for your wonderful article!!! I’ve suffered anxiety/depression on and off for 20 years (10 of which I was medicated). Recently it culminated in self harm. Since that wake up call I’ve made significant changes including cutting out caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, doing yoga and Zumba, and walking and playing with my dogs and partner. I’ve had my nutrient levels tested and subsequently take a multivitamin, iron, zinc, probiotic and krill oil as well as some great supplements for anxiety/depression. Less than a week ago I “plugged out” of news and Facebook. OMG that feels great!! I vow to spend more time playing with my friends and…I think learning to be completely honest with myself about myself is important. I have never heard about T.R.E – but look forward to learning more. Again, thanks for having the courage to share your story and providing such simple, yet effective techniques.

  74. When having panic attacks, I recently found that I was focusing on what it felt like the last time I had one, and not the situation itself that caused it. That realization has now helped me have fewer attacks. I also found that, like you, the more I exercise and get outside and am active, my attacks have been less frequent. When I do have one, splashing really cold water or rubbing an ice cube on my face does wonders.

  75. Thanks for the post. I’m already thinking of ways to incorporate some of your suggestions in my own anti-anxiety routine. It’s so cool to see confirmation of my own experience that anxiety isn’t really this mental demon. It’s just a series of choices and actions…and so easily reversible.

    My Morning Ritual:

    Wake up a little earlier than I need to (after 8 hours of sleep obviously)

    Make a cup of coffee just the way I like it (or any beverage of your choice)

    Pick a spot outside…in the garden, on the porch, by a window…

    Look at the world, see how beautiful it is

    Taste the coffee, really relish it.

    Cultivate some awe (as I look at the clouds, I try to remember how big they really are, or I think of what we know about space…whatever it takes.)

    Think about how good the day before was…all the big/small things that were cool, fun, funny…whatever.

    That’s it.

    The beauty of this little ritual is that it trains your brain to look out for the good stuff. Pretty soon you start noticing them all through the day.

    I’ve also began to notice when I’m being negative in a particular situation. In noticing that, I’ve also been able to make choices about how I look at those situation, how I act etc. Actual stressful situations are much less so for me.

  76. My favourite method to cope with anxiety?

    Bang out some grooves on the drums! I get in PLAY and some awesome physical activity.

    But then, I have understanding family and neighbours.

  77. Tim- thanks so much for curating Charlie’s amazingness for this crucial selfcare post! i don’t know either of you personally- but am blown away at the quality and comprehensiveness that’s being shared…thank you!!

    My fave techniques for dealing with anxiety:

    #1 wash it off—this is a daily ritual i do at night before i got to bed…either a nice long hot candlelit shower until all my aches & cares are washed down the drain or a soothing hot soak in the tub (candles and a few drops of lavender essential oil always a plus for calming the nerves)…i’ll even take a mid-day hot shower or soak if i’m feeling super anxious- so helpful!

    #2 Emotional Freedom Technique aka EFT aka Tapping—this was introduced to me 7 years ago and I totally thought it was crazy so I made fun of it, but two years ago I was working on a major project and someone well respected recommended it, so i hired a professional, tried it again- has changed my life! (it’s free and you can do it anywhere- gotta love that)

    #3 Bouncing + Gratitude List—this is a double whammy (in the best way possible)…the bouncing just makes me feel silly and laugh out loud which creates an instant energy shift and then I write or say 100 things I’m grateful for. Anxiety melter + Heart expander in one!

    i could go on and on…i love this conversation!! 🙂

  78. I think what 2 things help me the most that I am already doing is yoga and whole body vibration through a Goga Studio. I like the way both help me to relax. In a way after reading the article I can maybe understand why WBV works for me.

    I have a wii and like just moving from pose to pose.

    Also keeping clutter at bay helps me not be as anxious. I also do the vitamin stuff, making sure I have enough vitamins to want to get up in the morning is crucial for my well-being. Otherwise I have people starting my day off by banging on my door

  79. When I feel physical symptoms like a panic attack is coming on, i try to remember that the symptoms are “distressing but not dangerous” – a phrase I learned in a self-help group nearly ten years ago. It still works, and helps me remember I’m not having some kind of cardiac event… it’s just anxiety and I’ve had it many times before.

  80. A few notes about nutrition:

    a) Chia seeds are also a great source of (short-chain) omega-3 fatty acids. For long-chain ones, there are numerous vegan supplements at this point, generally based on processed algae – there’s no need for fish oil.

    b) Most young adult vegetarians are *not* deficient in vitamin B12; numbers vary widely from study to study. That said, it is an extremely common deficiency, and is more common in people over 40 and vegetarians.

    c) Vitamin D deficiency is also very common; it’s worth getting tested for.

    d) It’s probably worth increase the amount of vitamin K2 to your diet; it’s under-studied, but looks promising for bone and arterial health, due to regulating calcium. Natto is by far the best source; nonetheless, a variety of animal sources (like gouda, egg yolks, and organ meats) and sauerkraut still contain enough to be correlated with a positive effect in the Rotterdam study. I’m unaware of any direct tests for deficiency of this vitamin, and unaware of whether testing undercarboxylated osteocalcin is actually a good proxy.

    1. Agreed! Flax seed, chia seed, and nuts are great for omegas.

      I’ve been vegan since 2009 and just recently had my blood work done. I did not have a B12 deficiency. Likewise, my long-term vegan husband just had his blood work done and was not B12 deficient. My long-term vegan colleague and her fiance ALSO had blood work done in the last month and also were not B12 deficient. It’s an unfair generalization to say that vegans and vegetarians are surely B12 deficient. Responsible vegans take a B12 supplement (I recommend Deva which I buy on Amazon). Interestingly, Charlie himself noted that he ate meat nearly daily and came up deficient. The only 2 people I know who have iron deficiency/anemia are omnivores and eat meat all the time. Everyone eating all diets should be careful to get enough B12 (and have nutritional balance in general).

  81. To be honest I haven’t found a way to reduce my anxiety 🙁

    Like Charlie I’ve tried so many things that typically help people with stress and anxiety, although to be honest I’m not a typical person!!

  82. Good point about news intake. I used to watch BBCWorld while having breakfast, and one story about global warming could cast a pall over my day. And you should see the news here in Turkey – they add bangs, crashes and dramatic music to stress you out even more (Carmina Burana is a favourite). Although I still read a couple of online news sources occasionally, I’d say replace news-reading with news-making – even if it’s on a tiny “clicktivism” scale. Subscribe to something you believe in (360 degrees, Kiva, AllOut, the Harry Potter Alliance, whatever) then sign the petitions, share on social media, donate etc. Then get on with your life. Much of the time people consume news because they feel guilty if they don’t, but the information doesn’t benefit anyone. A minute of action is worth hours of consumption.

  83. Great post, really struck a chord with me as I’ve spent the last four years fighting my anxieties and thought I had tried everything. It’s a huge relief to see some new ideas and a couple of fresh insights on things I thought were tried-and-tested.

    Quick question though, I’ve been wanting to get a full micronutrient test done for a while but living in the UK I’m having trouble finding somewhere that offers it. Can anyone recommend somewhere?

  84. One more tip: as Tim recommends elsewhere, read the Stoics. Seneca was a Roman senator and also the former tutor of and occasional adviser to the emperor Nero – I don’t think you can get a more anxiety-inducing job than that. Oh wait, you can: Epictetus was a slave living under constant threat of torture and death. Or if management stresses you out, there’s always Marcus Aurelius. At least CEOs don’t usually have to worry about plagues, civil war and barbarian invasions. These guys needed to come up with _serious_ stress reduction techniques.

  85. A lot of these tips sound good for generalized, all-day anxiety–especially exercise and a good amount of sleep. I’ve found that staying away from activities that can be endlessly cycled through–checking email, watching news or reading blogs, for example–is also really important, as is staying away from too much digital stimulation.

    I try to set aside time each day for some deep breathing. I sit somewhere comfortable and use the white noise or rain generators at SimplyNoise to help block out distractions and to help me focus on just breathing.

    When a serious, out-of-control panic attack strikes, though, distraction is the most valuable tactic in my arsenal. It’s easy for your thought processes to spiral out of control when physical symptoms like elevated heart rate, nausea or dizziness strike, and in that condition even something physical like walking around is difficult.

    During those serious panic attacks, video games have been a lifesaver for me. Nothing on a device with a touchscreen, or the phone you do work on! A dedicated gaming device with buttons that give physical feedback is extremely comforting. On the go, the Nintendo DS or 3DS has some low-intensity classics like Zelda, Mario or the super-mellow Animal Crossing. If I’m at home, At home, I’ve got even more to choose from, like Portal, Journey, or the Persona games. With only a PC and the internet, an endless runner like Robot Unicorn Attack works too. The goal isn’t to fritter away a bunch of time, just distract your mind from thoughts that increase your anxiety until the physical symptoms abate.

  86. Very nice article.

    I would like to add one more hint: there are two kind of stress

    – extrageous stress coming from outside body

    – intraneous stress which root cause are inside the body.

    Extrageous stress is strongly related to lifestyle, environment and the impact those can have on the body!

    Intraneous stress is strongly related to some subtle misfunction of the body.

    What if your brain receives false message about status of organs ? It would trigger reaction which is not corresponding to any kind of inner reality.

    What if the brain receives false messages about the health of the heart ? saying that heart is not good ! It would trigger very high stress reaction, causing high anxiety attacks !

    What if the brain receives fake messages about the emptyness of your lung ? while this one if already empy ! Brain will try to empty it more and then you have a asthma crisis !!

    Intraneous stress is easely created by misalignment of bones. Think about how your nerves are going out from backbone to organe.

    It has to go through little holes between connection of backbone and ribs.

    If ribs are misplaced (which easely occur durring a life : bike fall, wrong sitting position, school fight and bad punch in the chest…) then those little holes are not wide enough and compress the nerve which goes out, which potentially create noise on the line (fake message). The brain then will trigger some reaction totally unrelated to any kind of physicall reality !

    Its not from me ! Its not a weird theory.

    It is what is called “medecine des structures” which was discovered by a french guy who tried to explain why his son died of an asthma crisis.

    You can find more information on

    And i really invite you to look into IT!

    There are several practitionners of this method in Canada.

    And the french creator is now living in Urugay which can help those american people to reach him.

    Have fun to a better health

  87. Hi all – great read!

    My anxiety busting secret is 20 minutes UNCRITICAL meditation FIRST thing, EVERY day.

    In my third year of meditating without fail every morning and has only really been within the last twelve months that I have been able to consitently practice every morning.

    I don’t do anything fancy – just set the timer on my phone for a 20 mins countdown, find myself a quiet room to be alone in and sit with my thoughts.

    No intention, judgement or consideration on whether it was ‘good or bad’ or ‘better than yesterday’ – I just do it.



    Has been the one thing I have tried that has considerably changed my life. I look forward to the sessions every morning and it motivates me to get out of bed and have my 20 mins before hitting the day.

    Give it a try – this website is what I used to get started:

      1. TRE i.e. trauma releasing exercises assist the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma. It was invented by Dr. David Berceli, PhD, TRE activates a natural reflex mechanism of vibrating that releases muscular tension, calm down the nervous system. When this muscular vibrating mechanism is activated the body is encouraged to return back to a state of balance.

        So it is best to practice these exercises to cure your stress and other stress related problems. [Moderator: link removed]

  88. Most of my anxiety comes from self-deprecating thought patterns: I do everything wrong and everything that goes wrong is my fault. So lately it’s been helpful (and my new year’s resolution) to tell myself to be kinder on myself. Simply asking “are you sure this is your fault? Were you the only factor?” helps to reassess the situation in a less damaging way.

    1. Good advice.

      Also realize even if it is your fault, you are human and are going to make mistakes. Learn from it, forgive yourself, and move on.

  89. Hi Everyone,

    The key to dealing with Anxiety is making the habit of doing what gets ride of stress for you.

    Do everything you can to remind yourself to do the action you need to reduce stress: put a note on your mirror in the bathroom, in the car, on your computer screen…in your diary…etc.

    Then if you do the action for a month (check it off on your calendar each day) and it is the right one for you you will crave to continue its healing feeling.

    I will say after hosting over a hundred workshops the simplest solutions are the best and just getting outside in the fresh air away from traffic, noise and into the silence can really help many people.. there is always more time to work… is so simple most people refuse to go outside But if there was a pill with built in fresh air some people would buy it!

    Go for it add up how much time you spend outside each day in fresh air and increase it to feel better.

    As a instructor of mine once said when you find the fun outside you find the flow in life.

    Keep Smiling,


  90. First, I do some fun exercise, like take a bike ride, swim & play in the ocean, run on the beach, or bushwalk to a waterfall. Surround myself in nature.

    Second, I try to spend time calmly focusing on what I want, rather than mentally muddling my way through the ‘how and when’ I am going to get it.

    These two simple things help me take off the hand-break and just allows things to flow more easily.

  91. Similar to play time, walking/hiking/biking in the woods does it for me. Something about being in nature resolves anxiety very quickly. Being outdoors in general helps, but not as much as being on a trail surrounded by trees.

    May seem a bit granola hippie crunchy, but it works!

  92. It’s always been weird to me how little time people leave for play. My solution is to put lots of play sessions INTO my working day.

    i.e. a run outside time, a stretch time, a handstands time, a dance to a really loud song time.

    This means DURING the day I’m continually refreshed, and don’t allow the slumps of focusing on one thing too long to get me down. Your mind craves variety, and needs that wide variety of activity to keep fresh when doing difficult work.

  93. Good Stuff Charlie!

    Your candidness and openness is refreshing as well as inspiring–thank you.

    The photo of you taking a nap on a couch with a cross on the wall above is priceless and a good reminder of a higher power. Interestingly enough, many say the greatest self help book is The Bible and more than likely most of your techniques are touched on in The Old & New Testaments but probably not as concisely.

    Once again, great article and thanks again for sharing your personal 6 best practices to overcome anxiety.


  94. Struggled with anxiety on and off for a couple years now. The thing that worked best for me when in a panic state was to do something that takes up my whole concentration so that I don’t have any left for being anxious. This allows my body to relax and start coming out of the fight or flight mode. Only then will exercise, reading a relaxing book, etc really help as I’ve already broken out of the anxious thinking thought loop and they don’t take enough concentration.

  95. When your at work and can’t catch a break (aka tax season), I go to the bathroom and splash warm water on my face repeatedly and day dream that it is a hot towel at a day spa! I also make sure I take my 1 hour lunch break daily (when weather permits) to go to the local forest preserve close to the office. I enjoy seeing the beauty of nature and relish in the silence and peace of it all.

  96. Hey Charlie,

    I think you are providing great tips. I am already doing a lot of them, so that might be the reason I am always laid back. 😉

    One tip I can give is to stop the “mental movies”. You know, when you go back or forth in time and live or relive certain moments? Like when you have a job interview coming up, you start imagining what the interviewer is going to say and how you are going to respond?

    Those “movies” make you essentially unconscious in the present moment, and are a big source of anxiety.

    Closely related to this is also “thinking ahead”, like when you have a busy week coming and you start thinking about ALL the things you need to do and it freaks you out.

    Take away is, stay present in the moment and knock things off one by one. 🙂

  97. Thank you for this reminder!

    And I say reminder because I don’t think there’s anything here I didn’t already know about, and yet there are at least four things out of the six that I’m consistently forgetting or ignoring!

    Too much coffee, too much screen time, too little fun and play and not enough sleep – yep, guilty. And the thing about Trauma Releasing Exercises, I’ve heard of it and not done anything about it. Must try harder – or do some of this stuff and then not need to try harder as it will all just flow!

    Hmmm – it’s sunny outside – I think I might just go for a walk…

  98. Thanks!

    I have a few useful techniques (most borrowed from people such as yourself).

    This technique is, likewise, not entirely original, but always works.

    When faced with work-stress, unrealistic deadlines, undue pressure etc I ask, What would my world be like, if I failed to achieve this goal, in 10 minutes, 100 minutes, 1 day, 10 days, 1 month, 1 year, 10 years etc. I put work pressure in perspective especially in relation to my life outside of work and I can then go ahead and do my best anyway, though stress free and knowing that if things don’t pan out, life goes on and is no less enjoyable. The key is striving to do my best with the resources available, but not stressing about the outcome. I spend my weekends Skydiving and Wingsuiting. I assure you, it’s impossible to be unhappy when falling through the air from 14,000 feet.

  99. Great article. I’m going to incorporate more play in my life!

    Things that help me deal with anxiety:

    The most important thing for me is being thankful for what I’ve got. A mind full of thanks and gratefulness can’t also be full of dread.

    Another thing that helps is: I eat real, clean food – not processed and laden with sugars, stimulants, additives, etc. I experience much less anxiety when I’m mindful of what I’m putting into my body.

    Charlie mentioned the importance of his afternoon nap. I’ve found this to be extremely helpful. Afternoon naps allow your adrenals to recharge.

    I also see to it that my salt intake is adequate. Salt and naps are like manna for folks with anxiety/adrenal issues. But definitely follow Charlie’s advice about having your nutrient levels tested before adding extra salt to your diet. Everyone’s individual nutrient needs are different.

  100. I am 50, fit, balanced and joyful, mainly because I have lived out all the principles you described since my mid twenties, when I felt life turn dark and dreary. Through trial , error and sheer determination to NOT let life be a chore but rather a playful game ( remember the game LIFE? ) I read, researched and discovered many of the suggestions you made . I rarely if ever comment online but your prescription for well being is solid, sound and imperative if you want to live well and feel well.

    I was always anxious growing up and can trip into it ever so quickly. A management technique that really has helped me and reduces my anxiety is to do everything else you described AND to speak words and hold thoughts of gratitude regularly throughout the day BUT especially when I am fearful or anxious. Somehow , for reasons science is starting to confirm, the gratefulness and the curve of a smile reset the energy field I am standing in and instead of being anxious I have a deep sense of well being. The anxiety fades and the more pleasant sensation of peace and calm take over. I do it every day, many times a time and anytime I feel anxiety step forward in my body or my thoughts. Thank you for your contribution , you have great wisdom to share and much needed in these new times ! Life can get better or it can get worse. Starting while you are young will insure that when you are my age you will still feel like a kid and play like a happy child!

  101. There’s a book by Dale Carnegie called “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”. A friend of mine sent me the audiobook because I’m always strung out. Honestly, I haven’t read, or heard, all of it yet, but one of the best takeaways I’ve had from it is to live in “day-tight compartments”. This means remembering that the only time truly available for you to live in is from now until bedtime. As long as you do your best in that window of time, you’re doing the best that you can in life in general.

  102. Never do I fish as attentively as when I’m on the North Umpqua. I feel I owe the river the very best I have to offer, after all, the river has given its very best to me. The North Umpqua makes me want to be a better fly fisherman

  103. I think anxieties are 99% of the time totally unreal.

    It’s our voice in the head that thinks of scenarios in the future, which are just one way of how a situation “could” develop. Most of the time the most pessimistic way.

    The emphasize is on the word FUTURE. It’s not real now.

    So what to do?

    Start learning to be in the present moment. Yes it’s something you can “learn” by daily practice. Do everything you do with full commitment. It needs a heck of concentration, but when you are with what you are doing, then you can’t think about everything that’s gonna be tomorrow.

    Children playing –> the best example.

    “The mind is a great servant, but a terrible master”

    So I do meditations. Preferred in Nature and I make sure that I see, hear, smell and feel everything I can. So I am in the now and I can’t feel any anxieties.

    I also try to be super aware of my thoughts. Often they are running where they want. Then I have to say: Who is the master here? You or Me?

    Of course “I” am the master. So I can change my thoughts, willingly. Nobody is his own thoughts slave if he doesn’t allow it.

    If we say our thinking runs us, we give all our power away. Regain your own power by starting to “form” your thinking.


  104. My only way to truly relax and escape is reading. I have multiple health and breathing problems that crop up and railroad my exercise program so reading is my mainstay. Swimming is next.

  105. Thank you for sharing Charlie, and so glad things are better for you now. I’ve suffered clinical depression most of my life with bouts of anxiety thrown in for good measure. A great workout session always helps me, especially if I can get a good run in. I’ve also eliminated the news (many thanks to Tim’s advice in the 4HWW) and when things get really bad, I unplug for at least a day and do absolutely nothing but read or watch movies (preferably comedies).

    Best of luck on your future endeavors!

  106. Great article! About twelve years ago I started having panic attacks and had no idea what was going on. Years later I finally figured out that I was pushing myself too hard, and not giving myself time to rest, relax, and play. Based on what I did to overcome anxiety and panic attacks, I believe that Charlie’s tips and advice here are spot on.

    That being said, when you’re having severe anxiety you might need a stop-gap measure until you can get your brain and body back in whack. I tried medication, and hated it, so instead I went the natural route. I’ve found that passion flower and valerian root work okay for mild anxiety, and that 200mg of l-theanine works great for more serious bouts (thanks Tim for that tip). In addition, getting your cortisol levels down can be a critical piece many people miss. Taking phosphatidylserine daily in the am or post-exercise can help with that as well.

    Also, I agree that daily exercise does help. I get a lot more benefit from doing intense cardio than from doing strength training, even though I prefer the strength training from a pure function perspective. But once I get on the road and have been breathing hard for a while, the stress just melts away. It’s liberating.

    Run-away mind syndrome is a huge contributor to anxiety and depression. Staying in the moment, and recognizing faulty thought patterns so you can stop them and adopt healthy thought patterns is critical. The resources that helped me most with this are “You Are Not Your Brain” by Schwartz and Gladding and anything by the late Dr. Claire Weeks.

    Finally, I’ve found that remembering to breathe deep belly breaths throughout the day is VERY helpful. I’ve noticed that when I’m most anxious, my abdomen is tense and I am breathing from my chest. When I feel like that, I put on some Mozart or classical guitar music and just sit and breathe. Typically within a few minutes I start feeling more relaxed and calm.

    Charlie, again – great article. Thanks for sharing this.

  107. Hi Charlie. Thank you for sharing your story, it hit close to home. I LOVE naps! I had a work position that allowed me to work from home and I would always take a 30 minute nap after lunch. But when things changed and I NEEDED to be in the office from 8-5, I noticed my attitude complete change. I think it’s time to start enacting “nap time” again. Also, I am fascinated by the TRE information. That is quite amazing in of itself and I plan to do more research on it. I can’t wait to read your book. Again, thank you for putting yourself out there and sharing your story.

  108. The Calm App on iPhone works wonders, you can set a time and it walks you through how to relax yourself. Try to do it once a day for 2-10 minute intervals.

  109. Great techniques! Here is my all-time best cure for the heebie-jeebies:

    Help someone else and then when they say “thank you” tell them to pass it on.

    Whether it’s formal volunteering for a cause you believe in or just giving service to help a friend with a knotty project or listening when someone needs a friendly ear, helping is the best way I know to get out of your own “stuff” and into life.

    Help is empowering to the giver and, if given in the spirit that we are all in this human condition together, it is empowering to the receiver as well.

    Take note that Charlie and Tim are GREAT at helping with all their cool ideas and workable techniques!

  110. Bicycle commute.

    It’s about six miles each way and I take my time, so it’s 30 to 40 minutes (each way) of relaxing outdoors meditative in my head with my headphones in on the way to and from work. I ride five days a week in addition to my normal running/lifting routine, and this is the time of year that I REALLY start to miss it/consider moving to a more forgiving climate.

  111. I learned this from Aubrey Marcus (Warrior Poet). He´s the CEO of the human optimization company called ONNIT:

    Sit down in a relaxed and comfortable position, and inhale deep through your nose. While exhaling, tell yourself “I am..”. Repeat for a desired amount of times. And that´s it!

    You´ll be surprised how much this helps with mindfulness. It´s relaxing and it can help you connect with your inner self. And then you´re ready to go! (and possibly kick ass)

  112. I have found that the best way for me to release anxiety is stop, breath, and really ask myself what’s going on and explore what’s causing the stress. When I start to feel out of control, or like things are just getting too overwhelming, I will go somewhere quiet and sit. I calm myself down, remove myself from the situation and take a step back. Then, I sort of unpack the situation with a series of questions.

    I ask myself, “what’s got you so worked up?,” and then continue from there, going deeper until I find the problem.

    “Why does this issue stress you out?”

    “Is this really what’s causing your anxiety?”

    I often have to divorce emotion from the equation and look at my state logically. Emotion can cloud my judgment when I’m trying to solve problems or resolve issues. Anger, stress, resentment can all obscure or even magnify what could be a small issue. It’s best to acknowledge it, realize that your emotional response is just a reaction to a situation, and set it to the side. Once I’ve been able to address the problem, the emotional burden takes a back seat to wanting to fix the problem.

    I sit in silence, focus on my breathing, and keep asking logic based questions to dig deeper into what is causing the distress. I’ve found that if I keep digging and keep unpacking, just keep asking more questions, I can get to the root cause. It’s often something very small that has an actionable resolution, but things can just get so blown out of proportion and snowball, making them seem bigger or insurmountable.

    Exercise and play are very important to me, though I realize that I don’t play as much as I used to. I view exercise as training, regardless of what it’s for. I find that I can’t wait to go “train” after work even when I’ve had an emotionally and physically exhausting day, where I probably would have bailed on just exercising. I feel like the way you frame and focus on things, even as simple as just going for a jog, have big emotional impacts. When I wanted to start training for a half marathon, the first few weeks were brutal. However, I was able to quickly convince myself that running each day would be a way to burn away my stress. Now, it’s something I look forward to everyday.

  113. Thanks Charlie for the great advice in this article especially T.R.E exercises. I have a colleague, a war veteran, who suffers from PTSD. It really affects him still many years on but I know he finds doing exercise like boxing and paint balling a very good stress reliever which is exactly the type of ‘play’ you recommend as he does thins with other PTSD sufferers.

    He often listens to certain music which helps clear his mind from negative thoughts and anxiety. In particular the song “In the arms of an angel” by Sarah McLachlan helps. T.R.E. sounds like a great tool to help him, so thanks again for writing so openly about a topic rarely discussed.

  114. Wow. Relieved a lot of anxiety just to read about some new and concrete steps I could take towards anxiety relief! Really interested in T.R.E. and had never heard of it before. Thank you.

  115. I think a lot of anxiety-curing can be labeled as “common sense but not common practice”. That isn’t to discount Charlie’s amazing work, but just the opposite. He isn’t flashing highly technical jargon at anyone. That scares people away. He tells us things that make sense in a simple, direct, digestible and actionable manner. That’s what makes this book so special…!

  116. I found that I go in and out of anxiety. Each time, the best solution was doing was what causing it (if social, force yourself to be in rooms with a lot of strangers; if hot air balloon, go for a trip and remember to breathe a lot!). It’ll work out. The problem was that as I conquered anxiety triggers, my mind would look for more severe ones (death , life crippling disease, etc). Basically my mind produced untestable events, ones that I could not force myself to do. These were usually triggered by a life event of something large (new baby, trip around the world, etc). Oddly enough, when coupled with winter months, the anxiety was further compounded.

    Proactive breathing helps a lot, but was limiting. Sleep does work (anyone with kids knows this is sometimes difficult). Once you brain selects a path , it stays the course. You have to force it to get on a new path. This takes a lot of work. The best technique it found best was to say (out loud) “stop it brain.” Say it a few times if needed. Then immediately have a substitute positive thought to force in place of the anxious thought. Record positive thoughts (a great vacation, words to a favorite song, beautiful artwork, etc). In a weeks time I was able to cut out 75% of my anxiety. It’s not all gone, but this works. Tell your brain to stop and give it an alternative.

    Great article! The advice you give is spot on. Medication and other remedies are available (perhaps too much) but like a broken bone, time and dedication can fix things. Treat your brain like any other part of your body and tell I that path to take.

    In definitely going to try the release methods you mentioned.

    Thanks for the article. There is some solace knowing other healthy, productive, and normal people suffer the same weird thoughts.

  117. I feel slightly more relaxed just from reading this post. I’m motivated to put a concrete plan in place to ease my anxiety.

    I have developed a lot of negative coping skills for my anxiety. Growing up (especially during high school) I coped mainly by sleeping. I could get myself to sleep 19 hours a day, waking up only to binge eat, have a panic attack, cry, and then fall back asleep exhausted.

    Around age 20, I realized I had to stop coping this way. Unfortunately this resulted in only allowing myself 6 hours of sleep a night or less. I was tired all the time and still anxious, and I would hate myself if I slept over 6 hours.

    Now, at 23, I’ve calmed down enough to realize that I feel my best with 8 to 9 hours of sleep. I do my best to not day dream before bed (I can get so wrapped in planning or fantasizing about a different life that I prevent myself from sleeping just so I can think) and I sleep in quiet, dark room.

    Better sleep and relaxing about this aspect of my life has reduced my anxiety quite a bit. Hopefully after I implement the tips Charlie’s provided in this post, I can reduce my anxiety even more.

    Thanks Charlie and Tim.

  118. Simplicity.

    This is what drew me to 4-Hour Workweek, and why I still keep up with what you are doing.

    As King Solomon said “There is nothing new under the sun”

    MOST of your suggestions are simple, and even changing one of them at a time, slowly trying to get to them all, should drastically improve our ability to handle stress, and be more productive.

    I’m trying to finish grad school right now, in the middle of dealing with some pretty serious financial issues. I’ve been telling myself I need to play, exercise, enjoy my kids, eat better, get 8 hours, but haven’t done it.

    That changes today.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Forgot to mention what helps me.

      Asking myself “What’s the worst that can happen?” and then going through the scenarios.

      Fail a class … wasted money, but I learned from it. Maybe I’m studying the wrong thing or don’t even need the degree.

      Lose my job … deliver pizzas, move in with a friend/relative, do what it takes to put food on the table.

      Lose the house … same answer to losing my job.

      All devastating for sure, but my family and me are all in good health, we love each other, and I have 0 control over it anyway, so worrying changes nothing.

      That may not work for everyone, but letting go of my urge to control everything is really helpful to me.

  119. I find that a series of neck and shoulder stretches help to reduce anxiety-caused tension. Sometimes I position a tennis ball underneath my back in key areas and lay on it- put as much pressure as I can handle. I am sure I can cut down on my daily caffeine intake (I do love coffee). Thank you for the post, very good information!

  120. My personal favorite, and has been amazing for me, is once a month I spend an hour and a half in a sensory deprivation chamber AKA a float tank. Its like an oil change for the mind and body, ultimately relaxing. You can feel the effects for several days, and if I’m feeling extra stressed or anxious, I try to sneak another float in if possible.

  121. Really good stuff, Thanks. I really really need to get my wife on this program…she could write “How to stress like a Pro”. Another problem is people get addicted to stress..actually enjoying the buzz, the weight loss, the feeling of being important enough to stress that hard. I’ve gone through periods of my career with that disease. It’s obviously not healthy and not anywhere near as “effective” as folks think when they are on that “productivity” train.

    I love play but do have a hard time not feeling guilty about it. I sneak it in. I’m going to resolve to come out of the closet on play thanks to you!

    As far as quick fixes, I’m lucky enough to have a six year old boy who is very, very good at his job. If you have one of these professionals in your life or even in your neighborhood, go play with them (with appropriate approvals from primary care givers). “Work” hard with them…Really see through their eyes..with practice, this activity blows away stress in minutes.

    Question: Maybe you or Tim cover this elsewhere but recently, lots of flack being given to supplements as not effective, etc. I have always questioned whether the body can get/absorb what you are trying to give it through a pill. Help!

  122. I spend the 15 minute commute home refocusing my mind on my family not my job.When I get home, it’s hugs – and then playtime for 1/2 an hour.

    We fix dinner while they do homework and then we talk about anything but work at dinner. After that it’s finish homework or work on a project with the kids. If there is time before their bedtime we relax together or play a game.

    Focusing and spending quality time with my family has been the quickest and usually most effective way to reduce my anxiety. Unfortunately, the hardest habit for me to learn is the ability to stop thinking before I go to sleep. When work is highly stressful I can’t seem to turn my brain off at night. I just rerun through my problems trying to find solutions.

    I’ve enjoyed these two columns about/by Charlie. I’ve noticed some similarities between my life at times and what he’s gone through.

  123. Hey Tim and Charlie,

    Really great post. I enjoy the followup after the burnout article originally posted. I’ve recently got my girlfriend into the idea of lifestyle design and hacking our lives to work on areas that need improvement, and we are coming up with M.E.D. for a slew of issues.

    The one ultimate cause of a lot of our problems stem from is stress. Neither of us know how to effectively deal with our stress. We decided to wake up an hour earlier in the morning to allow a peaceful transition into our day, but the stress of falling asleep the night before is still present.

    I have never heard of Trauma Releasing Exercises, but am incredibly interested in researching further. I can’t wait to get home from work to show my girlfriend this article and start researching the concepts provided within.



  124. My top tip: Sit down and take whatever time you need to identify what is causing the anxiety. Then answer that specific fear.

    You’d be surprised how much that anxiety or fear shrinks when you shine a light on it.

    For example, I’ve been having a lot of anxiety around money over the past few months. Finally, I sat down and actually mapped out what I needed to live, how much I was making with my new business, how much I was dipping into savings, how long I could live if I continued at this pace, etc. This exercise, this kind reality check, changed my perspective. Instead of “OhMyGod, I must do all the things now or else I’ll fail!” I started thinking “Oh, I could give this business a year to get off the ground with very little consequence to myself.”

    That changed everything.

    1. Nice point, Gigi. I once read a wonderful book called A Life Of One’s Own in which the psychologist Marion Milner (writing under the pseudonym Joanna Field) monitored her emotions and the thoughts that arose when she stopped to look at them. She said that often a feeling of vague dread that had been hanging over her all day would, when examined, turn out to come from a thought like “I need to sew a button on my coat.”

  125. Coming out of College I shot straight to the 98% Travel, 100hrs/week consulting image. After about 2 yrs it caught up to me and I immediately went to trying to further control everything and seek to justify my anxiety. Trying to fight it was the wrong answer for me.

    After trying multiple forms of exercise, therapy and meditation, what I found works best for me today is to focus on how to add more positive experiences to my plate instead of intentionally trying to decrease work/stress. Starting off, I took 30 min/day first thing in the morning to be intentional and get out of my mind. Over the years this time has grown to 1 hour and is filled with experiences/activities that require me to be intentional and present. Everything from singing, praying, reading for fun, painting and cooking has worked as long as you discipline yourself to put 100% of your mind and body into it. After a while the negative stuff, that I didn’t realize was superfluous, naturally disappeared and my weekly focus looked to positive events.

  126. Mine to is use techniques from 4HWW. I take anything that is causing me anxiety, and imagine what would happen if the worst happened.

    I imagine what it would be like to lose my job, and come up with solutions to any problems I would face. I imagine loosing my best friend, or a girl I like that likes me instead starting to hate me. Figuring out how I would deal with those things happening. With anything, you have to know that it might not work out.

    Just having a plan B, makes it easier to not worry so much about plan A. If you don’t feel like what you currently have is the entire world to you, then you worry less about loosing it, and you know everything would be fine if you did.

    Managing anxiety to me, is never feeling completely stuck with my current position, knowing that I could walk away at any time that I choose.

    So that and ping pong, I effing love ping pong. And reading Nicholas Sparks books, its impossible to to be unhappy reading him.

  127. Tuning out of the news was key for me; I stopped watching it on TV, and turned off all negativity on social media – which required blocking some friends and un-liking lots of pages. If a friend or family member posted complaints or negativity twice in a row, they got blocked. I only let happy in.

    I unsubscribed from the 100s of newsletters I somehow let into my inbox and kept a handful. Tim’s is one of them. If I don’t read a newsletter 2 weeks in a row, I unsubscribe.

    Eliminating the notion of “having to exercise”, and avoiding so called “bad” foods. I treat myself to some red wine and super dark chocolate and soy lattes when I want it – and savor every ounce.

  128. It might seem a little too simple, but I think of anxiety as unfocused, excess energy. So I find a way to focus that energy with purpose and hopefully movement. Something as basic as going for a hike or run with the focus on a time or distance goal gives my mind a target to direct my body to achieve. If I can’t do something in that vein because of time or positioning, I try to work on something like cleaning my office, which is always a mess, so there are always things that need to be moved to a proper place or to the garbage.

  129. I really look forward to trying these out as I’ve always been extremely high strung since I was a child and in general always have a hard time “taking it easy.” The reminder to enjoy some guilt-free play time is something I have had a hard time doing, just because I feel like I have to be running at high productivity all the time, and you don’t accomplish anything if you are playing. I am going to integrate these suggestions into day to day life and see if I stop feeling like I’m constantly waiting for a head on collision. Thanks for this!

  130. Thank you Charlie and Tim Ferriss for these two posts. You shared the previous one on Burnouts exactly when I needed the most. Until then I didn’t care about it and kept working. But this is sort of a reminder and once again added meditation before I begin my routine.

    I would meditate regularly before six months but don’t know how burnouts took over. I remember practicing breathing and relaxation technique before switching on to meditation which is highly essential. With apps you can learn meditation but you will never enjoy it from within as its natural. Actually it is within you already, it is your gift, you just need to awaken it.

    Once I heard a Buddhist monk say that when your mind is full of opinions and speculations, you can’t see the light of wisdom and for that you need to empty your mind, only after that there can be awakening which I practiced and got amazing results.

  131. Thanks again Charlie. This is just what I needed. You released this literally the day I had a doctors appointment for anxiety.

    I find myself wondering, with all of the time you invest in anxiety relief and prevention, are you as productive as you were when you were a drugged up 20 hour a day workaholic? PS: That is sometimes me.

  132. There are lots great tools for managing and avoiding anxiety, but in terms of big picture, embracing a life philosophy that is largely anxiety free, I’ve found the best thing has been to learn to listen for the quiet whispers of my intuition. In so doing I’m more able to act in accordance with my deepest truth. And when one works with oneself, rather than against oneself, in a spirit of collaboration and creativity, the effect is magical and anxiety becomes a non issue.

  133. Truth be told- this is a wonderful article Charlie & Tim. Thank you for writing it.

    I quit my 9-5 job nearly 5 years ago now after reading the 4HWW. Have traveled and lived in over 14 Countries, experienced some really awesome things, and have even made a few shots at generating a disruptive muse to hopefully share with the world soon.

    Despite all of this- a supportive family, a beautiful girlfriend- I still haven’t been happy. I haven’t actually really been TRULY happy for as long as I can remember.

    All of the above aforementioned ideas you presented are well noted- and am eager to get started. Perhaps its just me- but one of the things I often think about that often feels like a hindrance to ‘success’ is discipline. Come to realization that I have a severe lack of it. Tend to have great ideas (or so I think) that I’d like to see implemented in some form- but find that I often lack the focus and the resolve to see them all the way. As such I began to delegate (outsource) as I thought this could be an effective strategy for overcoming these challenges. I am still mixed as to whether that helps- or hurts me.

    Not sure if any of what I just wrote above really makes any sense to anyone else- but I just kept writing here as I thought it could be a good exercise in expressing some thoughts- and gaining some clarity at this moment. Anyways- cheers again to you for sharing your work and experience. Your a stand-up guy for doing so. Kudos to you and Tim.



  134. Thank you, Charlie, for sharing. I’m 46 years old. Both my personal life and work life have been filled with severe stressors, and the incremental and acute accumulation of anxiety has become something I must deal with constantly.

    In my early 40’s, my wife developed breast cancer. Over the course of that time, I began to see how the body could adapt to higher and higher levels of stress while still functioning, or appearing to function, in the world. The true result of this anxiety can remain hidden for some time, so you have my empathy.

    I still can’t imagine what my wife was going through. She took the guilt of the family’s pain onto herself, as well–something common among those with a terminal illness.

    Language was a method we used to deal with our anxieties. We learned to name and categorize as many of our feelings and states as we could. We created a consistent vocabulary that allowed us to communicate, in shorthand, how we were feeling in the moment. It kept us rational and allowed us to step outside the pain, but still remain intimate with each other. It wasn’t keeping us safe–that wasn’t the goal–but it strengthened us as a couple.

    For example, with cancer, especially in a family, every major decision requires you to consider at least two paths. The path if the cancer is contained, and the path if it isn’t. The path of bad news became “Plan B,” and that’s what we used when we discussed our options. It became a private joke, and those simple words lessened the pain of what those words really meant.

    My wife didn’t survive the cancer, but I am exceedingly proud of who she was during that time, and the lessons that we were able to learn together will last me for the rest of my life.

    Thanks again, Charlie, and best of luck to you.

  135. Charlie great article and I have been hearing about ‘play’ on your guest posts and I am very interested in this idea.

    I have suffered from anxiety for 15 years off and on but I have seemed to cure myself about 2 years ago and this is what worked for me. Not saying it will work for everyone but it did for me.

    1) I stopped drinking alcohol completely, to the point where I even avoid beer battered fish or alcoholic infused sweets etc. I was a binge drinker in my early years and drank socially in the last ten years of my ‘anxiety life’ but I found that once I stopped completely all alcohol it made a HUGE difference to my nerves and how I think.

    2) started taking magnesium supplements daily. I did a lot of research magnesium deficiency and how to affects the nervous system and brings about anxiety and negative thoughts which was my biggest symptom. Again I think this had a huge impact.

    3) cut back coffee to 3 times a week, never more then 1 a day.

    4) while at work I am always drinking water which can be annoying having to go to the bathroom every 30 mins but now I actually get cravings for water if I haven’t had any for more then 20-30 mins

    5) like yourself I stopped listening or reading about the news. Every time I would read or listen to the news depending on the story but it did a couple of times trigger an anxiety attack that would last weeks. As you said I haven’t missed anything and all I do now is I might check the weather and tech news.

    6) this one might be a little odd but I cut down from eating too much chilli got food especially on pizza. I found having too much chilli, which I love, caused me to increase my nerves and anxiety

    7) excercise has also helped where I at least walk 3-4 times a day and try to play some tennis or bike ride. Again what I found weird is if I do too much excercise my anxiety levels get high. I think it might not be the excercise but more me forcing myself a strict routine which as you said defeats the purpose of it being fun.

    So that’s about it and since mid Nov 2013 when I had my last beer ( the social impact of being a non drinker is another topic which we can discuss another day ) I haven’t had a bad anxiety episode yet where I used to get them every few months. I still get little mini ones but they never blow out to what they used to be.

    Keep up the great work and look forward to following journey.


  136. I found Charlie after searching Google for “how to cure anxiety”

    Thing is, I’m not sure if I’m anxious, burned out or just slightly overloaded.

    I don’t fear the “what if’s” or have a sense of impending doom or anything but sometimes my heart will race or I’ll just get crazy jacked up like I could lift a Volkswagon.

    Play definitely sounds awesome and I remember it fondly. Being switched on or in business or learning mode constantly certainly seems to add to the unpleasant feelings.

    The main hurdles seems to be the feeling that there are 27,976 things to get done and stopping to play will put me one step further away from getting done what needs to.

    Next step…burn the to do list or at least cut it down to only what actually MUST be done.

    Great post and excellent feedback here.

  137. Hey Charlie,

    Thanks for the post! It is that “Finding the Caveman/woman” thing again – that we are a species evolved for exercise and play from our lifestyles of 250,000 years ago. In grad school, I found it astonishing that no one really knows what play and sleep really mean for us. I’m intrigued by the Trauma Releasing Excersizes and will look into them.

    I’m in the religion biz now, but sitting meditation has never done much but make me antsy. Instead, I find that riding my recumbent trike, fast, downhill and whooping along brings a smile to my face. The two wheeled wanna be racers think it’s weird, but the 10 year olds love it. That’s a recommendation I cherish. Good luck with your endeavors. Katie C.

  138. At the end of last year I hired a personal trainer, which has made a huge difference in my clarity of mind, my energy and enthusiasm. I love being outdoors cycling and wasn’t even doing that and knew I needed help. Committing to a trainer I see my body changing, it renews my spirit every time even meeting at 6a – 2x/wk soon to be 3 and shows me that I can do things I would not have tried before and routinely helps me to go ‘through’ mentally and physically the act of strengthening and shows me that I can reach the other side and do all things I set my mind too.

    Juicing has also been a great way to include key vitamins and nutrients that I would not otherwise receive and a nice boost of energy after drinking.

    To health and happiness ~ may we be working to live not living to work,


  139. My favourite technique for overcoming anxiety is going to the mountains for a hike and unplugging from all electronics for the day. Being surrounded by nature with no electronic distractions is where I feel the most peaceful.

    Great article! As a Nutritionist, I completely agree with Charlie’s point about getting tested for micronutrient deficiencies. 3 years ago I was magnesium deficient and adding a magnesium powder to my nightly snack routine made a HUGE difference in my quality of sleep and ability to feel relaxed throughout the day.

  140. We found a great way to actually test nutrient deficiencies and toxin problems. We work with Dr. Van Merkle as an affiliated clinic in Wisconsin. We have found many problems with digestion, liver, and many other REASONS why people are not as healthy as they should be. WE DO NOT HAVE TO GUESS ANYMORE at what vitamins are needed & what toxins have to be reduced. The system we use is Science Based Nutrition. The testing is also progressive to tell if you are improving and how much you have yet to correct.

  141. Hi (from Belgium) !

    I would say “pleasing sobriety” in every day life and of course.. quality time with family and friends (social links).


  142. I make sure to give and receive lots of hugs. Not those weird sideways hugs either. Full contact, pat the back, genuine hug! I do it for myself and for those around me, especially if I’m feeling stressed and anxious or I can see someone is having a rough day.

    I’ve seen a lot of research come out the last decade that supports the idea that regular positive touch increases happiness. Specifically, Berkley has some neat studies on their “Greater Good” website.

  143. For a better sleep, try listening to “brown noise”. Like white noise except a little deeper.

    I have a long history of difficulty falling and staying asleep, and brown noise has had amazing, immediate results.

    The app I use is called SimplyNoise.

    Sweet dreams!

  144. love this! for years my favorite technique has been to do something fun with people I love. usually that translates as playing tag at the park with my kids or going dancing with grown up friends.

    the last two years have been very tough (caring for parents, financial worries, child with special educational needs struggling in mainstream education) & I’ve forgotten how much looking after my own levels if anxiety can help. thanks for the reminder.

  145. My favorite is using the Pomodoro technique (25-30 minute work intervals) and then using the 5 minute breaks for bursts of meditation. Especially since 25 minutes is just not long enough to be satisfied, so you’re rearing to get back into it after the meditation.

  146. MIndfulness meditation, even 10-15 minutes shows palpable reduction in anxiety and stress.

    My advisors and I also ran laboratory experiments which found that 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation can help people cut their losses sooner, and thus help them make better decisions in sunk cost situations.

    Businessweek article about our paper:

    Our actual paper:

    Amazing free guided meditation recordings to get started:

    1. Thanks for the comment, Andrew, and nice work. I’m doing some related work with UCSF here in San Francisco.

      What protocol or approach do you currently use for your own mindfulness meditation?



      1. Thanks Tim, I look forward to hearing about the work you are doing at UCSF. What are you investigating?

        I haven’t taken regular courses but I read a few books (favorites: Hanh’s Peace is Every Step and Miracle of Mindfulness; Tan, Goleman and Kabat-Zinn’s Search Inside Yourself) and a lot of academic journal articles, and have listened to many recorded meditations which are free on the internet. I like the 14:36 body scan on the free mindfulness website ( I sometimes just try to do the things I have repeatedly heard on the recordings without listening to them though.

        I mostly keep it simple with a few minutes of focused breathing or body scan in the morning, before falling asleep, or when I notice that I am in a particularly anxious or stressed emotional state. Sometimes I just try to focus on the physical sensations of walking either in the park or in the normal course of the day. Also, slowing down a little and focusing on the taste of food and feeling of chewing can really deepen the joy of eating. I think the goal is to give my mind a break from wandering, both because it feels good ( and because it seems to help me focus/perform better afterwards.

        While a different form of meditation, if I am in a particularly bad mood, I have found that loving kindness meditation can work wonders.

        I also think that people tend to underestimate how much non-religious scientific evidence there is demonstrating the benefits of meditation, and that even people who aren’t interested in having a full on, hour-or-more every day meditation practice can use it as a tool when they are feeling excessive/nonfunctional negative emotions or stress. I also think listening to guided meditation recordings is much easier, especially at the beginning, than just reading instructions and then trying to do it by yourself. Cultivating the ability to mindwander less has been compared to building a muscle at the gym.



        P.S. It’s hard to overstate how big of an impact 4HWW has had on my life, particularly the idea that living outside the US is a reasonable thing to do, so thanks also for that!

  147. The T.R.E. stuff is fascinating. I also never thought about micro-nutrient deficiencies. I will look into both. Thanks Charlie. Great article!

    I had to travel to Philadelpha for a funeral and was really dreading it. How would I feel? How would I act? Would I be overly-emotional? Would I be fake? All these questions were running through my mind. It was obvious my anxious imagination was preparing me for a terrible trip. I didn’t want to go.

    But I did go. Even though my brain said, “Philadelphia is hours away. No one will blame you for not attending the funeral”, I entered the fray.

    And you know what happened? Something my anxiety and imagination never accounted for.

    I was able to spend some amazing quality time with my niece and nephew.

    Through their eyes I was able to share laughter, and connection, and love – even in the midst of the funeral, the event I was most dreading.

    So yes, human connection. With loved ones. That helps me.

    And if you can’t be there in person, a phone call, text, or card to let them know you’re thinking about them, makes you feel better about your own life, and can very often break you out of those internally-focused feelings of anxiety.

  148. I reallybliked the article. I am an LCSW and I recommend many of the techniques mentioned with patients who may be depressed or have a history of trauma also. I have been to a TRE training by David Bercelli and find his technique helpful. I also encourage acupuncture and massage as complementary methods for self care.

  149. Dancing, any exercise “toys” (trampolines, jump ropes) or the getting outdoors. Most office workers suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder. You don’t have to be a wilderness man/woman – taking in some green (or blue or brown) scenery relaxes and centers the mind.

    An important note about dancing: it create a lot of anxiety in people. They think they’ll spend most of their time worried about how they look and that’s why most people self-medicate with booze before dancing.

    It’s true that at first, you’ll feel self-conscious. Even after I took classes for awhile, I was still slow to grasp steps. But, I firmly believe that dancing is deeply ingrained in the human DNA – it’s a T.R.E. of sorts – you can release pent up energy, celebrate or be goofy. If you’re not up for taking classes or dancing in public, have a dance party in the privacy of your home – turn on some music and flail with abandon.

  150. Thanks so much for this helpful article. I am a woman of 30 years old and I have been struggling with anxiety since I was a Teenager. I have tried almost evrything you tried meditation, listen to relax music, read motivational books, etc etc etc and nothings seems to work yet.

    My anxiety has caused me a lot of health issues including overweight astma and vitiligo..a cruelty sickness that according to studies is very related to anxiet

    I will try your tips and hope they will help me to end or at least decreased my anxiety issues.


    Warmest regards from Honduras.


    Will really appreciate a copy of that book if possible.

  151. I would add ‘not reading social media everyday’ to this list.

    I reckon a lot of my close friends suffer from anxiety etc because they judge themselves against everyone else’s Facebook and Instagram posts- believing they should be doing or looking a certain way and then feel inadequate.

    Just a thought anyway, great post.

  152. Have you thought about simply not working so hard? How much $$ do you really need in order to do the things you want and have a happy life?

    Reset the bar. Redefine “success”: spend less, need less, work less. Devote more time to loved ones and (especially) leisure.

    Because as someone once said…

    “Most men…through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them.” (HDT)

  153. One of the techniques that are effective for me (and to anyone who is interested) is the afternoon nap. During my time working and going to college full-time I had to cut my sleep to five-hours a day in order to keep up with my responsiblities for my job, and for my schoolwork.

    This method didn’t work well. When I left my job I was still stuck in the same pattern. It took a while to get used to sleeping enough while trying to get a twenty-minute nap in the afternoon. Some people might be saying, “Oh, you’re oversleeping! You’re lazy!” I usually reply, “Well, I’m getting more done in less time. The napping also helped me overcome the ‘afternoon blues’ where we reach for the second cup of coffee in order to get a boost.”

    I still have trouble falling asleep, but the napping helps me to relax and recharge my batteries. Thank you Tim Ferriss, and Charlie Hoehn for sharing the article.

  154. Loved this post, Charlie! Your writing style is quite captivating and your advice spot-on.

    I think in managing anxiety, the power of touch get overlooked. A lot of anxious people tend to isolate themselves when they’re stressed. More and more studies have been coming out about the healing effects that the human touch on other humans (like Getting a massage, hugging, physical intimacy, or even just hand-holding are effective ways of melting some of my anxiety.

  155. I just had a full blood work up and EKG to rule out heart problems, after having chest pains that came on small at first and now I cannot get rid of. (I’m too young to have heart problems at 30!!) I have been battling anxiety from being type A small-biz owner and bit of the “CEO’s Disease”. I have tried it all to calm down. It’s crazy how once the body is in stress to a certain level it cannot trick it self out of it. Thank you for the post. I’d love to win, but either way I need to find time to research the TRE method and finding play time for me.

  156. Stopped drinking coffee about 3 weeks ago. Started drinking green juice and doing coffee enemas. I can be in bed for 10 hours and only get 6 hours of choppy sleep (according to my fitbit). I need tips for restful sleep.

  157. My go-to is getting outside and going for a mountain bike ride (preferably with my awesome trail dog). There really is nothing like single track – and sunshine, fresh air, adrenaline, and the complete absence of screens, cars, and city noise – that melts away all the anxiety that I feel pretty much on an otherwise daily basis. Bringing friends doubles the fun, too!

    The only problem is working in the city makes this somewhat difficult to do every day – I’ve gotten to the point where I want (crave?) a nature escape all the time, but mostly only manage to do it on the weekends. Enter: my first-world problem; and consequent first-world catch-22 anxiety loop) 🙂

  158. Such a fantastic article! Thanks Charlie and Tim! To reduce anxiety I like to stretch and dance (ballet, hip hop, anything). I grew up a dancer and it always brings me back to center and gets me out of my head. Taking my dog for a long walk is a good one too. It’s amazing what fresh air and fun exercise can do for your well-being and focus.

  159. I enjoy getting up early and sitting in the quiet. I’m a divorced mom, so quiet time is at a premium. Lately, I’ve picked pleasure reading back up as well, and I love to read in the mornings.

    I’ve enjoyed both of your posts, Charlie. I have dealt with massive amounts of anxiety, partially caused by PTSD, for a long time. I also have ulcerative colitis, and while no one really knows the cause and there is no cure, there is a lot of research being done on the mind-body connection. I’m convinced my anxiety ties into my illness, so I’ve been focusing on reducing it. I’m hopeful that T.R.E. might help me.

    Of course, I would love to win, but I am planning to get the books either way. Best to you, and thanks for sharing your experience!

  160. Since I WFH (work from home) in Sales it is easy to get into the “always on and thinking about work or actively working” mentality. To step back and get some perspective I volunteer to help friends and family on their projects (boat, house…whatever). Admittedly, I do not “step back” often enough but when I do there is a definite “recharge” that occurred.

  161. Hi Charlie!….you do not sound like a Charlie-Brown anymore, with your discoveries!!! I just got a Kindle for my 38th anniversary from my dear hubby & hope your book will be my first entry!

    I have suffered for nearly 40 yrs w/anxiety + panic attacks. SO.NOT.FUN. Debilitating. It has been a journey of self-discovery, and w/the exception of coffee (which I like but makes me wildly wired), I am guilty as charged of allll the things you mentioned… I am on a detox/cleanse right now, fighting gallantly through it. I have found hormonal chg’s to be very challenging (I’m 60 & finally menopausal -late bloomer – TMI, LOL!!), plus sleep has eluded me. Insomnia and SUGAR seem to be my worst triggers for anxiety, as both disrupt blood sugar + adrenal function, which I am convinced is at the root of anxiety issues (adrenals). I’m doing much of what you said now in my “older & wiser years”, once being a total adrenaline junkie and workaholic. I am a dancer and dance teacher, and am blessed to continue that, but need to look at the frequency and time of day I do it.

    Tips/suggestions: ABsolutely tune out the bad news!…I zone out to: good music and I esp love music w/nature sounds dubbed in — very, very calming to the anxious soul. I love Charlie Brown, the little poster-boy for anxiety, so I read Peanuts all the time! I watch favorite feel-good movies or shows, even if I’ve now memorized most of the lines…”Forrest Gump”; “Fried Green Tomatoes”; “Steel Magnolias”, to name a few….dvds of quirky/funny shows like “Northern Exposure”; “Everybody Loves Raymond”, etc. All this to say that getting “into the Zone” — and I do not mean the Twilight Zone of an anxious BODY/MIND — is a crucial way for me to unplug, get the gerbil off the treadmill in my brain, and just.stop.the.insanity. LAUGHTER IS good for the soul!!!

    So….FEED the body, the mind, and the soul, for we are all of those. I love your article and will post on FB. Regardless of whether I win your book or not, thanks, and keep up the good work! “I’ll be watching you!”– famous line out of another funny movie, “Meet the Fockers”!

    All the best, Melanie….Goshen, Indiana

  162. My favourite technique for managing or overcoming anxiety is to spend time with close friends doing something fun and enjoyable like beach volleyball, ultimate frisbee or badminton. I find these activities are light, fun and still give you good exercise. I also love to laugh with friends watching funny movies, or wholesome stand up comics like Jim Gaffigan and Brian Regan!

  163. It all starts with the braaaaaains (zombies love brains)

    Here are the essentials I take (you can grab most of this stuff at any health food store):

    multivitamins, calcium/magnesium, vitamin d3, all the B’s, omega-3, probiotics (these are the absolute essentials).

    followed by,

    5-htp, melatonin (for happiness)


    L-Tyrosine, DL-Phenylalanine (to help you feel engaged in life)

    I read a book about how important all this is in a world where we barely have the time or patience for a broccoli.

    Just thought i’d save everyone 10 hours of reading and give you the above which is what it all boils down to. 😀

    1. You forgot chocolate – the happiness food. I eat a bar of 85% dark chocolate (Green & Black’s is best) every day and it keeps me smiling (and a bit fat, but that’s another story). If you find it too bitter, persevere – it’s an acquired taste:)

  164. God bless you again and again for this post – I’ve been waiting for it ever since I read your backstory.

    The questions you asked at the end of the last post have been haunting me – I answered every one of them in the affirmative, and I didn’t know why.

    For over a year now, I’ve been arguing with my husband back and forth because I decided to take a Tae Kwon Do class – I’m almost at red belt now, at age 43. I didn’t really have the time or the resources to do this – I have four teenagers, a couple of them with special needs of their own, and I work full-time as well.

    I couldn’t figure out what was the point of my doing this – why I felt this primal need to go sweat things out in this class. I only knew that it felt terrific, I loved my teacher and everything I was learning, and it also felt like my life would turn completely gray without it.

    Your post finally put the pieces together for me – I do it because it’s FUN! And I haven’t done something purely for FUN, purely for my benefit, in…a period of time far too long to admit online.

    Thanks for the other tips as well. I feel like I need all of this. I’m going to print out your post and absorb it like a sponge into my life. I’m sorry for the pain you had to go through to learn these lessons, but please know your pain has definitely helped to ease mine. Thanks again, Charlie…and thank you too, Tim. Love your stuff – keep it comin’. 😀

  165. Sorry if this has been posted before, (or if Tim has in one of his books) lots of comments!

    A really good way to wind down before bed, even when you’re still staring at a screen, is to make it produce yellow light, not the blue light that we get during the day.

    I use the program f.lux, it automatically starts the process when the sun sets in your local time, I’m yawning after 5 minutes!

  166. Regarding sleep I’ve been using a Marsona sound conditioner for years, listening to the sound of rain or a waterfall as I drift off, and then at the time I set the alarm waking up to the sound of silence! Perfect, especially if your sleep is disturbed by background noises.

    Also recently bought a Twilight Pure wake up light which gradually brightens until I wake up to sunlight and the sounds of forest birds (more options and colours than the Phillips)

    Memorising inspirational words (bible, poetry etc) before bed and then reciting them in your mind as you wait to fall asleep stops your mind racing and allows your subconscious to chew over the good stuff all night long.

    For calm and focussed energy either first thing or after dark, a SAD light (10,000 lux) works wonders.

  167. The 5 Breath Rule:

    Throughout the day when I am feeling stressed, anxious or just want to relax, every 2-3 hours I will simply stop what I am doing, close my eyes and take 5 deep breaths through my nose. This ‘resets’ my body and allows me to take a step back.

    A very simple but effective exercise!

  168. Charles. There are many useful strategies, I was laughing out loud while reading your book during the meditation ramble and the cuddling section… “Wait for it…Lay it away” … haha Thank you so much or inspiring me to follow my passion. I traveled around the world for 6+ months, 6 continents to shoot a documentary (“One Couch at a Time”) …. but found myself often stuck inside at the computer “editing” and just taking myself WAY to seriously… Thank you for helping me and countless others stay conscious of our inner dialogue with ourselves… I’m totally curious to try this TREMBLE therapy too! … Cold showers too…. nah. ha Sounds like fun. I seriously want to try this TRE exercise workbook – I already bought your book & read it cover to cover — but I will try to TRE and tape it, lol, if you want to hook up that workbook.

  169. Great article, with lots of terrific tips. I read your other blog and found your story fascinating (elements of it reminded me of me in previous jobs). I was proud to discover that your antidote to anxiety is play – because I came to that conclusion on my own a few months ago, and wholeheartedly agree! About 3 months ago I started making a conscious effort to incorporate play into my marriage, my friendships, with my pets, etc. I also implemented the sleep habits that you recommend here, and from my months of experience, I can attest that they work (also of note – studies show that sleeping by your smart phone can cause ADHD & depressive symptoms – another good reason to keep it on the other side of the room). I had not heard of TRE anymore and while it does sound awkward, it also makes sense and sounds helpful, so I’m going to give it a try!

    The only part of this blog I took issue with is the statement that if you’re vegan or vegetarian you must be B12 deficient. As you admitted, you ate meat often and still showed a deficiency. In fact, the only people I know with anemia are omnivores! People of ALL diets need to be aware of their nutrition. It always strikes me as odd that people become very concerned about people’s plant-based diets while nearly all of America is suffering from very preventable (and sometimes reversible!) diet-induced heart disease, diabetes type II, and cancer – products of the overconsumption of unhealthy (not to mention unsustainable and inhumane) animal products ( explains this better than I can in this short comment). Responsible vegans and vegetarians take a B12 supplement (I recommend the brand Deva which I buy on Amazon). And I’m always careful to advise on a B12 supplement to anyone I help transition to eating more vegetarian foods. Bottom line: EVERYBODY needs to be careful about consuming foods that are healthy for their bodies – and in my opinion, foods that are healthy for the planet and animals as well.

    Thanks for the tips – and glad you’re enjoying life more! I’ll add just one of my own: start each day telling a loved one (a partner, pet, friend, colleague – or at least speak aloud to yourself or write in a journal) 10 things about which you are grateful. Could be as big as “I am grateful that I have legs so I can run” or small “I am grateful that my Netflix movie arrived in the mail yesterday.” Studies this daily practice lowers blood pressure, and it’s actually lots of fun what you start to notice and appreciate about life. I do this everyday with my husband on our morning dog walk. We get outside (get vitamin D ;)), get light exercise, bond with our family, show gratitude, and kick off each day with a great attitude. It’s the best.

  170. I really like the concept of playing outside in nature with a friend. On the one hand there are the physical benefits to it like getting exercise, be reconnected to nature and get away from the permanent ringing phones…

    But I think the even more powerful thing is that it offers you a opportunity to get in a “state of flow” easily; where you lose any sense of ego/self awareness, irrational thoughts and the feeling for time. You’re able to totally immerse in the activity and share that with a person you like, a profound way to reduce anxiety, I think!

    best regards from Austria…

  171. Charlie, this was a very cool post and I had been hanging out for the sequel after reading the first part. It was a very timely read for me as I have been going through some family induced turmoil these last few weeks and have been experiencing some of the unpleasant symptoms you described. Your post really picked me up this week, not only because you gave a wealth of alternatives to the self-medication I have been unsuccessfully applying, but because it eased the burden somewhat to read about someone else’s experiences and not feel quite so isolated. In lieu of a sympathetic ear, your story made a big difference and has made me question whether I could be doing more to help myself. Thanks so much for sharing. Some great content in the comments too.

  172. Solid tactics for steadying the mind. I’m a believer in each of them.

    For me, reading Seneca has been invaluable for developing a mental shield against anything the world can throw at me (IBS and chronic back issues, to name two). Tim – I was actually a devoted reader of your work and Seneca’s before I realized…hey, Tim likes Seneca too…cool

    Here are a couple of tactics I derived from Seneca’s letters:

    – Mentally rehearse the worst consequences of any anxiety … you will always be pleasantly surprised

    – Trivialize pain and suffering. The mind has the power to say ‘hey, no big deal..this will be over soon’. Huge impact.

    – Remember that we always look back fondly on instances that we overcome adversity. Keep this in mind during times of trouble.

    – Be able to spend time calmly in your own company (“proof of a well ordered mind”…according to Seneca)

    – Nothing is more important than devoting yourself to living / becoming a better person.

    Of course, these are just the tip of the Seneca iceberg.

    Thanks Tim and Charlie,


  173. One of my favorite ways to play to overcome anxiety is to sing silly songs with my brother. We’ll burst out singing “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” — “Da da daaa, da da daaa!” Or we’ll start making up a random song on the spot: (with Spanish sounding chords) “this is the story, of RICO AND FERNANDOOOO…. witness the tale of two lovers in MEXICOOOOoooooOOOO!”

  174. Seriously, getting shit done does it for me.

    For me, action relieves anxiety. Having the discipline to work off lists and knowing when to move to other tasks. Most importantly knowing when to turn off and stay off regardless of where I am at with my task lists. Tomorrow is another day.






  176. Changing my environment (usually stepping outside) and making time to get my sillies out. Being mindful of what i am putting in my body and bringing it down to the basics – sleep, movement and self care. Most importantly, persevering with the little things and not expecting big, earth shattering changes as a result of anything i do. Every bit helps in my quest for balance!

  177. 1. Traveling, even if it’s not to a tropical paradise. Traveling just makes me forget everything and recharge the batteries. I only bring a computer to import my photos and videos as I take lots of them because it is my job but I rarely use any internet. Instead, I experience culture, food, talk with locals and share stories and laughs, go on adventure trips, experience the nature and give myself a whole new magical world and that really calms me down and makes me feel so alive and balanced in life.

    2. Skateboarding. As you mentioned, fun recreational activities are the best exercises and I’ve found that to be really true and not just because it totally makes my mind and thinking process die completely (I’m REALLY in the now!) but also because I’m diabetic type 1 -and love to analyze things- and I’ve found that doing fun exercises/activities actually lowers my blood sugar WAY more than doing exercises in the gym or workout classes that I feel is a chore or punishment.

    Can’t say why but I think there’s a lot of positive things that are being triggered inside the body when exercise is combined with joy!

  178. I agree that TRE is a fantastic technique for anxiety and the creator David Berceli is a wonderful philanthropist. I’d also recommend you look into the techniques from Energy Psychology like Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and our own Simple Energy Techniques (SET), simple acupoint tapping techniques which often have fantastic results with anxiety: My clinical experience as a psychologist is that around 97% of clients with anxiety will experience a significant difference and most people notice a shift within a few minutes of tapping on the acupressure points. It is simple, portable, and once you get enough of it the results are lasting.

  179. Most of these are commonly cited remedies for anxiety, but unfortunately they are temporary solutions. Most people suffer (unknowingly) from anxiety due to unconscious attachments to feelings of helplessness, unworthiness, and passivity that are formed in childhood. Counterintuitively, individuals unconsciously recycle these negative emotions in a variety of situations – like a familiar window pane that moves with the owner (even on vacation). Once people gain awareness of their inner conflicts (e.g., wanting to be powerful, but expecting to feel helpless) they can break free of anxiety. See works of Edmund Bergler, Freud, and Peter Michaelson for more info.

  180. When I’m feeling stressed, I immediately find a place to be alone, then put on my favorite upbeat music and force myself to sing and dance (or at least bob my head and enjoy the music). Even if I’m feeling horrible, within 30 seconds of singing and dancing I feel like a brand new person, smiling and energetic. I’ve done this so many times that I can usually put myself in an upbeat mood without any stimulus whatsoever. I guess I’ve learned to control my thoughts very well.

    I also love to read when I’m stressed. It always relaxes me and enhances my creativity. Some of my best ideas have come while reading a book.

  181. When I feel anxiety, I would watch simple pickup’s youtube channel, that really help to resume my confidence and give me some fun. I even saw Tim interviewed by those guys, that is interesting.

  182. I connect with people with I love.

    I spend some time on the floor with my 11 month old daughter.

    I surprise my wife at work, make her play hookie and go grab some coffee and tea.

    I cook some food and deliver it to friends.

  183. Thanks for sharing. I felt I was the minority on this. Things that worked in the past

    1) sleeping in the toilet in the morning at home and afternoon at work

    2) take a bus and go to a new neighborhood and sitting in the bar

    3) taking fake sick leave to sleep in all day

    4) take time off and don’t tell anyone what you are up to

    5) 2 hour massages

  184. One of the best ways that I release anxiety is to simply move; far too often we don’t allow ourselves the time to get up and walk around, especially those of us with desk jobs or students in marathon study sessions. I go for a short walk around the building, or I close my office door turn up my Ipod and just get jiggy with it for a few minutes. Movement is really what matters. Tremors are just an extreme form of movement. I try to take a break to move at least once an hour, but you need to find out what works for you.

  185. I watch other people who are more stressed out than I and think to myself, “At least I’m not as bad as THAT poor sap”. Instant feel betterness;-)

  186. I wish I had this list earlier — you have brought together things that I have been discovering one after the other over last few years.

    Being an entrepreneur (in tech) was so killing for me and my body.

    I now avoid the news like plague, especially politics & that too on TV. I will read all the happenings in tomorrow’s newspaper, or better in The Economist once a week.

    I have started playing an hour of badminton every evening with pals, and Golf twice a week. It’s magical how sport can disconnect you from the matrix!! If it is slightly competitive, the better!

    A year back I checked my B12 and D3, and I was way below the minimum threshold. I take the supplements but way irregularly. The thought that my mind is ageing twice as fast has just freaked me out!! I am going to be regular from here on.

    Forwarding this article and recommending your book to all my friends and loved ones.

  187. Summary:

    1. Fix your physiology (in a fun way): Guilt-free play with friends

    2. Fix your environment: unplug from all sources of news

    3. Fix your biology: sleep

    4. Fix your biology: no stimulants

    5. Fix your physiology: T.R.E

    6. Fix your biology: fix micronutrient deficiencies

    This is the message that I got: 5 out of 6 items are connected to fixing a good homeostasis in your biology (albeit one is really contextual, social and a lot of other things – play).

    I got a few comments to this.

    1. Your story support my hypotheses: meditation (and all that other stuff) will only work if you have a good homeostasis in your biology. Biology is the number one thing that needs to be fixed first.

    2. I’ll remember this thing as a checklist. Currently I’m doing 3 study programs concurrently and am beginning to start a job. So there is a high chance I’ll be in Burnout Land if I don’t watch out, but now I have a checklist 🙂

    3. Play is a lifehack. You just gave stronger support for that idea, thanks! 🙂

    Also, I find it interesting that you describe a dose with play. It might be a fun master thesis topic to do (one of my programs is the Game Studies – the psychology part of it).

  188. I read Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    His understanding of nature combined with being your own person are very comforting for anxiety based on the sheeple’s attempts at controlling me.

    Much gratitude for this post Charlie.

  189. Amazing article ! Very comprehensive and thorough.

    I like the idea of playing as a natural feature we must nourish 🙂

    I went to a TRE workshop some months ago with the creator of the technique, and it was really joyful, new, stunning !

    I really felt a sensation of liberation coming up my legs onto my diaphragm and started laughing for no reason. Silly from an outseide view, but powerfuly freeing from the inside.

    I really recommend it !

  190. Write lists, I was told. So I wrote lists. They just didn’t help with managing anxiety. This only shifted when I reframed their purpose. Instead of using them as a measuring tool for how much I had achieved – or not! – they became a tool for emptying my mind at the end of the day – or any time I think of something. If it’s on a list, it’s out of my head. Every day, I do as much as I can, check my list and prioritise what is urgent and important. Most importantly, I let go of the expectation that I have to get it all done immediately. When I go to bed at night, I know I have done the best I could, that I have handled what needed to be handled. Tomorrow is another day, another list.

  191. Great post. Anxiety is something everyone has to deal with in varying degrees. Personally, I have tried many ways to solve the problem; seems like you discovered the many paths people try to solve the problem. I liked how you admitted the impact it had on you, as many people won’t for some reason. You even addressed the idea of play- at times I can’t even relax enough to do that, I am already thinking of tomorrow’s problems. The suggestion of “scheduling play” was simple yet really resonated with me. I printed this article and want to try these tips. Thank you and Tim for the post- this is my favorite along with the recent “cancer post”. What can I say- intelligent and relevant as usual.

  192. The simplest relief from anxiety is living in the present. All anxiety is thinking about the past or the future and identifying with either in the present. If you can just feel yourself breathe and be present for a few minutes you can cure yourself. You may have to do it many times a day but you can do it. I recall seeing a disheveled tattered shell of a woman in an emergency room one time. She introduced herself to me as a sufferer of PTSD after having been sexually molested as a teenager. She was 35. She told me this before she ever told me her name. This was who she was. Not Mrs. X, but the person who had been traumatized. That was her identity and the lens through which she saw everything. Something that happened years ago and could never be changed. Presence is where it’s at.

  193. Love this. I’ve done some of these and look forward to adding the others. With regard to #6 specifically, I have MTHFR, a genetic abnormality that means I cannot convert B vitamins to useable (methylated) forms inside of my body. I take pre-methylated supplements of P5P (B6), Methylfolate (B9), and Methyl-B12 and bam! I’m a new person.

  194. Sleep Has Always Been the Enemy.

    I rolled over and checked my phone. It was midnight. Despite my friends’ pleas to go out the bar and have a drink hours prior, I claimed I was too tired, went home and promptly readied myself for bed. Too physically tired from another grueling day’s work to do anything, yet almost fully alert mentally (running through the tasks I had to complete the next day) I had found that I been laying in the same fetal position for 2 and a half hours once again trying to obtain the elusive goal of sleeping. I opened my browser and decided to read Charlie’s article, after just having read part 1 a few days prior.

    For as long as I can remember my greatest problem in life has been sleeping. I’ve tried everything. Watching TV, listing to music, using sleep apps, reading, the Nightwave, humming to my Air-o-Swiss, ice cold showers, meditating, journaling, breathing, taking walks, …None of it seemed to work. In my quest to be successful over the past few years, I have slowly watched as my zest for life has faded away due to lack of sleep and fun. Over this past year I found myself turning to drugs (both illegal and legal) to put myself to sleep, but they have often left me drowsy and unable to fully function the next day.

    I have always been a huge Tim Ferriss fan, stating one of my life goals is to work alongside him (Charlie you lucky bastard). I’ve used his concepts from 4WW, 4HB, and 4HC in many parts of my life. Even his post back in the fall about his depression helped me get through a tough period in my own life seeing that it’s something that happens to even our heroes and reminding that everything is going to be okay. However, when I read this article last night it really hit home.

    Since I graduated college a few years back I’ve been trying to get one start-up after another off the ground, some with mild success, others without, and all along the way telling myself that I can be happy, have fun, and enjoy life once something works out in my career. Apparently I’ve had it backwards.

    Last night after reading this article, I pulled myself up out of bed, went downstairs dusted off my Xbox 360 Kinnect that an ex-girlfriend had bought me 3 Christmases ago (only been used twice) and began playing. I played for 2 hours straight until I couldn’t stand anymore, went upstairs and face planted into my bed. I woke up for the first time in as long as I could remember feeling refreshed and with a clear sense of what had to be done

    I – and for that matter We -all need to play more.

  195. Along the lines of B12 deficiency, I had my genome sequenced at 23andme and there are some online tools like Genetic Genie that can evaluate if you have genetic mutations in your methylation cycle. Different mutations can require you to have increased needs for different nutrients, such as B12, folate, etc. There are different types of B12 out there (cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin, hydroxycobalamin). Having this done has helped me to supplement my needs more precisely. If you have the money, this would be interesting to pair with the micronutrient data.

    Also, for people having burnout issues, researching HPA dysfunction may be helpful.

    For stress relief, I like swimming as it’s unplugged exercise with rhythmic breathing. I’ve also become a trail runner rather than running on roads. If I can’t find time for that and only have a couple minutes, I just sit and look out the window for 5 minutes, relax, breath deep, and try to dismiss thoughts that invade that moment.

  196. I go home and smoke a big fat joint – just kidding! I do something far more uplifting. When life is really on top of me, or more often when I am with a friend or family member who is stressed beyond belief, I get them to hug a tree. It is amazing how many people have to be coaxed into this and don’t want to look like a fool. I have a much better success rate if the park is dark.

    We have these amazing old fig trees in the park we overlook. it would take five people to fully enclose their trunks. Putting your arms around their trunks and just breathing in and out makes me feel so much calmer, like they have lived through it all and I am just a small cog and my stress is so insignificant.

    At the very least people I have coaxed laugh, feel like a child and let go for a little bit. I don’t know why people call others ‘tree huggers’ like it’s an insult. Why are people that want to love and protect our natural world seen as anti-progressives? Anyway, that’s another comment box all together!

    In the interim go find a beautiful old tree and take a moment to breathe in life. I haven’t done it for a very long time, I’ll have to pop that reminder in my phone.

    Big love, big life x

  197. Great suggestions (both the article and all of the extras in the comments)! I try to do each one of these and I certainly feel it, in a negative way, when I lapse. One not specifically mentioned I do is meditation, but you could get the same thing with the naps…

    I have one thing to add some additional value though. The whole time reading this I kept thinking each of these are “Keystone Habits” as coined by Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habits.

    The idea is that each one by itself offers some amount of benefit; however, being a “Keystone Habit” each one of these when done regularly will unlock a cascade of other positive habits and benefits. For example, exercise alone if done regularly will allow you to sleep better and subconsciously promote you to eat better. This will cause better focus, more energy, etc. allowing you to exercise more or take on other challenges/choices/habits.

    I hope I explained it well enough. It’s a cool concept and the book is a helpful read. Each of the techniques above are great because not only are they helpful by themselves, but they have additional benefits in every aspect of your life.

  198. Fantastic article, Charlie. Thanks. I went right out and played catch with my 10-year old son. So much of what you wrote reflects what I’ve found to work. I experienced medical trauma in early (pre-verbal) childhood which really caught up with me in my 30s. I’ve recovered a lot and I’m always open to learning more. Would love to read your book and the TRE workbook. A lot of what other people wrote has worked, too. BTW did you know that intellectual giftedness (high IQ) is correlated with anxiety. My additions to your list:

    Emotionally Focused Therapy: If you have a partner, this therapy is the bomb. It has done more to lower my anxiety levels than any other one thing. In fact, I’ve made greater progress in a less than two years of EFT than decades of psychotherapy. (Johnson SM, Moser MB, Beckes L, Smith A, Dalgleish T, Halchuk R, Hasselmo K, Greenman PS, Merali Z, Coan JA. Soothing the threatened brain: leveraging contact comfort with emotionally focused therapy. PLoS One. 2013 Nov 20;8(11):e79314. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079314. eCollection 2013.)

    Magnesium supplementation: it’s great as a preventative and while experiencing anxiety.

    Essential oils: Jasmine essential oil is particularly calming (Kuroda K, Inoue N, Ito Y, Kubota K, Sugimoto A, Kakuda T, Fushiki T. Sedative effects of the jasmine tea odor and ( R)-(-)-linalool, one of its major odor components, on autonomic nerve activity and mood states. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2005 Oct;95(2-3):107-14. Epub 2005 June 23.)

    Rhythmic breathing: 4 counts in and 6 counts out, practicing breathing prior to feeling anxiety helps rhythmic breathing be more effective during anxiety. I learned this from a neuroscientist friend.

    Thanks again,


  199. My go to for releasing anxiety is cycling. If it’s a lot of things that are building up in the back of my brain, I grab the road bike. Going out for a longer ride really clears my head and helps me stop thinking about what’s bothering me.

    If there’s something specific on my mind, grab the mountain bike and point it down a hill. Hard to think of anything else besides not crashing when you’re going 20mph on dirt. And the adrenaline rush washes everything else away.

    Both have a good amount of pain involved (cycling lingo: suffer, pain cave, hurt locker) but you learn to love it.

  200. Fantastic post Charlie – I appreciate that you’re so open about these issues. I recently got to a less stressed state, and wanted to share a few things that helped.

    I set up my second computer as a “distraction” computer. That’s the only computer where I can do email, Facebook, Hacker News, etc. Sites that are useful to me, but also addictive.

    The computer is off, and closed by default. A notepad is beside the computer. When I turn on the computer, it asks me why I’m there – I’m supposed to have written my reason.

    This simple trick has been enough. I’m writing this comment from my “work” computer. There’s nothing on this computer that compels me. When I finish this comment, I’ll close my laptop and go out to meet some friends.

    I’ve previously gone a month without internet, and felt my brain change, for the better. This two computer setup has produced 80% of the benefits of being disconnected.

    I really went all the way. If you look at my iphone, you won’t see Safari. All I can do on my phone is text, call, and schedule things on my calendar.

    I switched to paper for many things. Rather than write notes on my phone, I have a small Moleskine pocket notebook I carry with me. I bought a brother Laserjet printer for major documents. I read your article offline then opened my computer to post this comment.

    This way of living sounds absolutely insane to most people. But I know how I was before. I was less happy and less productive.

    I also completely eliminated refined sugar, and processed foods with sugar. This is hard for a month, then you don’t miss it. While I was already lean, now I have a six-pack, and I didn’t change anything else. My body just shed three pounds, and kept them off. I feel great.

    Addiction is our epidemic. We recognize it in drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, and we developed defences. But it is so much more now. Work is an addiction. Processed food creates cravings. Modern TV produces compulsion. Social media is A/B tested to keep you there longer.

    So I cut these off or contained them. I hope something in what I wrote may be useful to others. Don’t be afraid to do something different if it will be useful, and if it hurts no one.

    I also have a question for you. I want to go to bed at a consistent time, and I like going to bed early and waking up early.

    How do you fit a social life into this? I live in a city where nightlife starts at 10pm and goes until 3 am. Do you just take a day off and resume your normal sleep schedule the next night?

    1. A friend of mine always got up at the same time every day. If she had a late night she’d still get up at the same time, even with little sleep, but then go to bed really early the following night to catch up. That way she didn’t break her routine. Sound worth a try. (I’m not disciplined enough!)

  201. DO NOT TAKE TWINLAB FOR B VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTATION! You want a B-complex that containts methylfolate. One of the best usually sold (but you can find better over the internet – is B-right from Jarrow Formulas. Taking folic acid long term is extremely dangerous (it’s a precursor of B9, not the real thing).

    Also even though you consume a B-complex, you would have to take approx 2mg of sublingual methylcobalamin. Only a few percent of B12 gets absorbed in the gut.

  202. Big hello from beautiful NZ,

    Wow – read & just loved your article.

    Soo timely for me. I’m definitely going to be sure to make time to “unplug” and have guilty free FUN & PLAY time. It’s incredible how we can forget to do these things in the “busyness” of life.

    The sleep one – going to bed at consistent time is a challenge for me – but I can see that I definitely need to make it a priority.

    Looking forward to reading your book Charlie & I’m also really interested in learning about the Trauma Releasing Exercises.

    Thanks for sharing all of this awesome knowledge – you ROCK!

    Big hugs from NZ,

    Kind Regards

    Amy Scott 🙂

    PS – Tori – I love having snuggles with our cat called Mavis – she is just delightful – like you – I love that they know how to “be”. Awesome 🙂

  203. In the last six months I started to notice that I have anxiety and how it has affected my life. I thought it was my sleeping habits, so I did some research and have had my bedtime ritual. I then started to exercise more, meditate, do yoga, stretch, etc. It helps but it still didn’t alleviate a lot of the symptoms and the stress. Your article was really helpful in helping me to recognize what else I could be doing. There is nothing worse then trying to solve a problem, not seeing results, and then feeling like you have hit a wall. Thank you for sharing your story and for your ideas.

  204. Awesome article.. Have experienced vary degrees of anxiety over the last 10 years plus. No wonder its better in the summer when I’m out walking the golf course.

    In my experience and one of the biggest reasons I’ve read Tim’s stuff for the last several years (even if I’ve yet to find the right muse.) is even jobs that should be fairly benign stress levels, can be HUGE anxiety producers when you have little to no job satisfaction or since of purpose.

    Designing a lifestyle that allows you joy in work and making the time to Play would eliminate a lot of medications and therapy..well done.

  205. Like Charlie and many others, I’ve tried it all! Eating whole foods, raw foods, various exercise regimes, juicing, acupuncture, holistic approaches, etc. But I wound back up in the same situation – adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues.

    I use a lab called Perfect Balance ( to have a hair analysis done which tells me my mineral deficiencies and excesses. I also started on magnesium and have noticed a huge difference! Bringing up my B vitamins and other minerals has also helped.

    I started making a point to practice quiet time before bed, breathing excercises, eating cooked vs raw food (more grounding) which has helped tremendously but reading Charlie’s key point of “playing” finally hit me like a ton of bricks. I haven’t given myself permission to do this since I was young. Wow! Something so simple yet so vital…

  206. Hi! I’m a high school senior- and recently I’ve been incredibly scared about my future, are my grades good enough, which colleges will accept me, or if ill even get into college. After reading this article, I feel more calm, just to know that I’m not the only one who is sometimes confused or scared, and how something so simple as tremor exercises or having lighthearted fun can help. Thank you for the advice and I’m turning off my devices and starting now!

  207. My son has a terrible time with anxiety. Meds don’t seem to help, in fact they seem to make things worse. We are looking for alternative ways to treat his anxiety. He is 20 years old and in college. This should be a time of fun and excitement, but to him it is a time of intense anxiety and depression. Just last night he had a terrible panic attack while away at a convention for one of the clubs he is in. He is very intellegent and has so much potential, I don’t want to see his future crippled by his anxiety. Thank you so much for your article, we will definitely try some of these techniques! I would love to get the books you recommend. Hopefully soon.

  208. My wife sent me this article on anxiety and i watched the TRE 8 minute video. Whether or not I win a free book by commenting is not the point (although I’ll certainly take one as its clear I need it), I do plan to pursue this. My stress is mostly work related but it is escalating based on general demands. I look forward to learning about this process and am hopeful for its results. Thanks for the article.

  209. Interesting read. I have a tendency to overwork myself during the week, and then I usually recharge by vegetating on the weekends in front of the TV. Will try some of your techniques!

  210. So timely! I’ve been having more and more anxiety lately and a friend recommended I read this post. I think it’s a vitamin think since my eating habits suck!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  211. Charlie, THANKYOU! for taking the time to be totally authentic and genuine about your experience; this post has really helped me. It is so easy for us readers to think that people like you are somehow superhuman and do not get affected by human traits/anxieties. At the risk of getting kicked off this blog and labelled as a complete hussy, I have a fantastic cure for stress that’s free and available to all…


    Yes, I said it and before you go judging, please allow me to explain some background. I was raised a Roman Catholic and as such had huge guilt issues around sex and thought pleasuring oneself was ‘dirty’ and that I didn’t deserve it. I have had several long term boyfriends but was never able to relax during intimate times or enjoy it very much until my 30s. It wasn’t until I picked up the 4 Hour Body (excellent book by the way Tim!) that I eventually the read chapter about 15 minute female orgasms. This was a game changer for me! It is simply another way for you to ‘play’.

    I honestly believe this is one of the best stress relievers known to mankind. If I catch myself spending too long hunched over my laptop for hours (mistaking movement for achievement) I take 20 minutes out. This activity totally changes your state and allows a fresh, relaxed perspective when returning to a problem. Then, you can easily ask the question ‘Whats the worst that could happen?’ and move forwards.

    I think everyone would benefit from this free and healthy way to do something positive for yourself. To quote Woody Allen “Don’t knock masturbation, its sex with someone I love”

    PS. I just bought the book and did the TRE exercises; I can highly recommend them to anyone too 😉

  212. Great article,

    I suffer big time with anxiety attacks and have read lots of books and seen several people about it.

    There was some good points on here that I hadn’t heard of before so I shall take them on board and see how we go.

    Not sure about giving up the coffee though got to have some comforts in life.

    I’ll definitely get the book to add to my collection hopefully it’ll be a well spent $11. Or you never know I may just win it.


  213. I am not necessarily an anxious person, perhaps the opposite. Surprisingly, I found this article magical. I am a scatter brained person with too many interests, and I have hard time really focusing on one task, or a project. Being in that state of that mind exhausts me before I even start putting some productive work into any of them, so basically I deal with it by being too passive, and losing all my motivation by the start. What I am trying to say is that we dealt with one similar problem with two very opposite methods by me finding constant distractions to avoid from the works, and you going on drugs to get the work done. At some point, to be honest, I envied your workaholic, and wished if I could even get that pill for myself, but I realize that didn’t turn out good as well as my indifference to my workload. The good news is that you got both of us all covered by finding this awesome solutions to cure anxiety+apathy! You should be proud! And to be honest, I want that T.R.E free copy 😉

  214. Next time my girlfriend is stressed out, i’ll tell her to

    – shake that ass for me

    – play doctor afterwards

    – come to bed for a joined “power-nap”

    – this is also where the exchange of micro-nutrients will happen

  215. Wow, this is incredibly thoroughly written and very helpful, too.

    Up until a few years ago, I struggled with overworking induced anxiety and I was feeling tense on a daily basis. I am not drastically changed now, but I started to make changes and approach this persistent problem gradually.

    Work is one the most important things in my day to day life, so I know that I can’t just make myself not stress over it. Still, I found things that contribute to my restlessness and have an impact on my general work work performance (failure is my main source of tension), and started to become more aware of them. I cut back on coffee, I try my best to sleep more and I set aside time for leisure as carefully as I set aside time for working or worrying.

    I’ve yet to start with exercise and supplements, but hey, baby steps.

    Thank you for sharing this, I found it very useful!

  216. As per usual Tim offers great insight on how to make life better and how to release the inner demons that hold us back on the process. I look forward to these emails knowing they will deliver legit and candid insight as to why we are the way we are.

  217. LOVE this article, and the comments, too!

    Stand up comedy and comedy podcasts have really helped me to snap out of negative thoughts and just listen to light hearted fun.

    Another thing that helps ME, is to have a sort of ‘to do’ list on my computer. If there’s something I need to do but am really dreading it, it goes on the list. This stops me from delaying things that are making me anxious. It is really therapeutic to delete things once they’re done.

    Exercise, hugs, playing with my dog all help a lot too!

  218. Perspective comes from the young and old. A conversation with a senior ot with a young child, like my niece, slams my anxiety. Seeing things from either end of life does that.

  219. The best things in life are free! Once in a while, break your daily routine and go crazy! We only live once, so why not make the most of it? Be happy. When you’re happy you are healthy. 🙂

  220. My favourite technique for managing anxiety? Honestly? Listening to ‘Self-Esteem Affirmations’ by Louise L. Hay on my headphones. It’s soothing and it encourages self-acceptance. It just softens those aggressive, urgent, panicked feelings.

  221. Really enjoyed reading your 2 post on this. I did a lot to change my life and lower my anxiety a few years back and am doing good with it overall. However, I am now in a relationship with a man who works to much and has anxiety challenges. I am praying that he can learn how to relax and let go soon.

  222. In reading this I see this not in myself but in someone very close to me that I love. I hope that in sharing they will see it in themselves as well and utilize the advice and wisdom you’ve shared. Thank you!

  223. Hey Charlie,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    After I left my job of 7 years to run my own business (thanks for the motivation Tim!), I ended up experiencing a major case of burnout as well. I was finally doing what I wanted to do, but couldn’t handle all the pressure I was putting on myself. So much for escaping the job I hated, I just created another one instead.

    As with you, the problem was completely within myself.

    I’m very obsessive when it comes to work, and I’ve come to many of the same conclusion that you have over the years. I make sure to go rock climbing at least twice a week, and go for frequent walks – even in the cold Canadian winters – but having a reminder every now and again is really helpful. In any case, I would like to share a little trick of my own in regards to using screens at night.

    You and Tim nailed it suggesting that people turn off their phones, or keep them away from the bed. I have my phone set to automatically go into Airplane mode at midnight, and not return to normal until morning (I can explain that if you want), but what made the most difference was setting my computer monitor to cut back on blue tones the moment the sun set. There’s a free program called F.lux that handles this for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and a similar app for Android phones called Lux. I highly recommend them.

    Anyway, hope someone finds this useful!

  224. Another great article Tim! I have used 5 of the 6 above to help cure my anxiety, and of course I naturally spend more of my time outside in the sun nowadays like a few of the other people here have mentioned. It works wonders! I also love playing with dogs, they seem to speak a whole different language that warms us up. I don’t have one but I house sit every few months, looking after other peoples dogs whilst the owners are on holidays.

  225. i am a licensed mental health counselor, who became one after overcoming 7 years of sickness that caused a lot of depression and anxiety. kundalini yoga and specific pranayam have aided in anxiety. also EFT short for Emotional Freedom Technique based on acupuncture.

  226. All work and no play is no good at all! One must balance work and leisure. Put passion in your work, but indulge in your own passion to release stress and anxiety, and be at your best in all things at all time.

  227. thanks for the article on stress. I find the best way to manage stress is to mediate for about 20 minutes each morning. You feel totally refreshed afterwards.

    I also play with my dogs twice a day!

  228. I do the things that scare me and stretch my comfort zone every day by leaving it.

    If that first tactic fails somehow, for example because I can not identify the critical few items or because I do not see the light at the end of the tunnel, I take a break for expressive writing, between 20 minutes up to 1 hour.

    During that time I write out all the thoughts I have on the topic where I think the anger comes from.

    Often after the expressive writing things are clearer for me and I know the steps to do, which might be for example update my schedule, to keep things under controll.

    Honestly what helps me really well too to deal with negative feelings like anexity is over eating. But it is the wrong way to cope it in a long term perspective. So if I catch myself at the fridge, eating to much, I 1st accept it and than change it. For example by writing lists of all the stuff I eat for 2-3 days. That helps to stay physical fit as well as my morning work-out routine.

    I go back to my desk but if I can not get back on track after an hour I accept that I need a break. So I totally enjoy that break and do the things that excite me together with friends.

    Leaving the comfort zone I perform in the university, or the gym too, when I see a really good looking girl. Of course I am more today comfortable in talking to strangers than I was yesterday, but anyways even in this field it is possible for me to discover new challanges.

    ^^ I’d like to take a look into your book 😉

  229. I have found that the best relaxation method for me has always been to go backpacking. This can’t be done everyday but when things would get exceptionally busy and stressful, I would need to spend 3-7 days walking around in the woods. This accomplishes so many things! First, it gets you outside into clean air and is excerise. Surrounded by natural beauty helps take your mind off the daily grind. Second, it required me to be unplugged as I would have no electricity and didn’t have a solar pack. Why bring it? It was unnnecessary weight I would need to carry. Third, being removed from all news sources forced me to focus only on what was in my head (and maybe the book I brought with). Fourth, it often gave me silence. No noise other than the ambient sound of nature: wind, birds, animals, heartbeat, breathing. It’s amazing how much you can hear once you get rid of all the daily noise that surrounds us. Hiking in winter provides even greater silence as the snow deadens noise even more. Finally, it requires simplicity. When backpacking, what you have with you is what you NEED and very little else. That was my anxiety cure for a long time. That reminds me… it’s been a long time since I’ve wandered. Time to dust off the pack and see where the trail leads.

  230. I’m excited to try the TRE’s. I have had anxiety issues my entire life and after a few decades of assorted antidepressants and many antianxiety medications, I finally had a nervous breakdown a year ago. Three new stabs at anti anxiety medications over the past year and a 2 month long FMLA vacation prescribed by my doctor, I’m doing much better, but want to get off the meds and function purely on my own steam. I can’t wait to read your book! I’m tired of being crippled by my own self-induced stress. Thank you for writing the much needed book.

  231. Thanks for a great read. I found that one of the reasons for my anxiety, was ” procrastination” Of course it is a cycle, because, the more you procrastinate, the higher the anxiety level, the more I procrastinate… Causes more anxiety..etc. I was telling someone yesterday , I was being chased by everything I had to do. I called it, the demons are chasing me. He said don’t run from them… Turn around, face them head- on, grab them by the throat, and throw them down. ( metaphorically speaking of course)

    In other words,deal with it! Do it! Whatever it is that you are procrastinating on, finish it… Face it head-on. I did just that. It felt so good to go to bed last night knowing I faced those fears.

    Thank you again for a great article.

  232. My husband has PTSD expressing as an anxiety disorder. He is an awesome guy except for the anxiety driven outbursts.You just learn to live with it and ignore them. I have never heard of the T.R.E. but will definately be buying a DVD to try it. Thank you.

    P.S. Would love to win your schedule.

  233. I find exercise is very important for dealing for stress. Especially when you sit in front of a computer all day. Capoeira is my favourite form of exercise. It is hard to think about work when someone is trying to kick you in the head. Also it is much more playful and joyful than the various other martial arts I have done.

    1. Coincidentally I used capoeira in class as an example today when we were talking about Csikszentmihalyi’s idea of “flow” activities demanding total concentration. In the days when I practised capoeira, I could have a dozen things causing me stress and anxiety, but I’d have to leave them at the door because, like you said, any lapse of concentration means you can get kicked in the head. Plus when you aren’t playing, you’re singing, which also drives out the worries!

  234. I have been dealing with extreme anxiety and depression for over a year. I have done groups, meds, exercise…everything I can think of. This offers a new slant. I am doing some of the activities listed but not all. I think taking time to play needs to be added and I would like to try the TRE. Thanks for sharing the advice.

  235. 68 Fahrenheit (20 Celsius)? That’s way too hot for me to sleep. I prefer temperatures between 50-59 F (15-20 C). I guess everyone should look for their optimum temperature. I don’t like sleeping close to an A/C unit though (noise, draft, unpleasant air), but thankfully I don’t have to in most places I stay.

  236. Fantastic article. Thanks for sharing some great tips and ideas. One way to reduce anxiety is to try the three minute meditation concept. Close your eyes no matter where you are. Start listening to your breathing. Then start counting your breaths to yourself on the exhale “Five, Four, Three, Two, One. Five, Four, Three, Two, One.” Do this over and over on then your body will become totally relaxed and into a meditative state. Three minutes later you are wide awake and totally relaxed and happy again. I’ve been doing this for years and it works great!

  237. Hi, while reading I suddenly remembered the fun I always had playing Speedminton. After we moved to a new place a few years ago I did not check out for possibilities to play. Why do we forget fun things so easily? It just took me 5 minutes now to find a place and make a reservation in 2 days! I am so looking forward to it!

    Thanks a lot for giving me back this feeling and many greetings from Germany!

  238. The part of setting the alarm to “prepare to go to bed” is very fun 🙂 🙂 : ) most of those advices are also used to cure depression. I exercise through dancing, from 30 to 1h daily and of course it has to be funny, otherwise why whould you do that? I also include in my schedule at least 30 minutes a day for funny comedies and funny tv shows. Laughing is the best medicine they say and they’re absolutely right! 😀 thank you for ur point of view!

  239. Prayer! My anxiety is quickly relieved with prayer. Giving my worries, fears and challenges to my God helps me step away from the situation and myself and give it to God. This almost instantly make my anxiety ridden pity-party disappear.

  240. I take a 30 min. pictorial vacation to New Zealand at work during my lunch break. When the weather is not so pleasant to head outside, I eat my lunch at my desk and google image any adjective followed by “New Zealand” and get taken away to it’s exotic splendor.

  241. Deepak Chopra have come up With something call Endorphinate. Capsule. Yes, it has Vitamin, few protein, and herb(little caffeine)…. it help. This may be the best on the marked today for dealing With anxiety and bring endorphins up, just feel good, and lead to happiness. I just healed myself With it. Geir, Norway. (seek endhorpinate if interested, it is an adaptogen, which reduces stress).

  242. Great post. i am excites to try some of these methods. i personally sit quietly and think of the funniest moments in my life. i start laughing out loud it always releases stress.

  243. Worker burnout hurts & can harm relationships at work & home. F&F is my solution, Fun & Flexibility of mind & body. TRE has been a great way for my body to feel more alive & for my mind to be settled & more focussed. Life can be relaxing as well as full of demands. Lions, tigers, cheetahs are not slouches….they do what is needed & they also relax. We have the power to be sharp & to be relaxed with TRE. I only wish I had learned it when I was 9 or 10….life would have been easier! Jude

  244. For me I agree that play is hugely important. I find that my two dogs allow me to find that time to play on a daily basis. They teach you how to love unconditionally and their expression of joy through play is infectious. It’s my favorite way to get my 30 mins of guilt free play everyday.

  245. I suffered anxiety attacks as a freshman in college. It sucked hard. Instead of taking pills, I started doing almost every thing you list above minus the TRE. I will check that out, thanks for the tip. I’ve heard of it before through my regular yoga practice and it definitely merits exploration. All of these tips are hugely helpful even if you just employ one of them. Thanks!!!!

  246. Charlie: thank you so much for being vulnerable about your anxiety. I appreciate the tips so much. The one thing I do to help with anxiety (and depression)–that I would’ve laughed at someone suggesting to me a year ago–is going to olympic weight lifting classes.

    Much like swinging a golf club, or casting with a fly [fishing] rod, I cannot lift well if I am not *present* (i.e., ruminating about things that make me anxious or depressed) when I’m in the gym. When I lift, as terrible as my technique is, all that I’m focused on is the bar, my feet, and the motion of the lift. I have had the experience going into the gym with bowel-shaking anxiety, only to come out afterwards having to force myself to remember what I was anxious about. It’s been vital to my self-image and my mental health.

    Thanks, again, for sharing your process so openly.

  247. Thanks for this great post.

    Waht works for me is going outside cycling and I started taking long walks during the weekend. As much as possible outside the city. Now I even walk part of the way to my office every day. I am very curious about the T.R.E. sounds strange, but the theory behind it makes sense.

  248. Thanks for this awesome post! I love all the techniques but the T.R.E technique especially intrigued me!

    One of the reasons I love to follow your blog and books Tim, is due to your experimental approach to EVERYTHING as I am the same way – I have to try it all myself!

    So of course, I went out and immediately tried T.R.E and think it’s a groundbreaking concept and exercise. I was a personal trainer for a few years but sort of lost a bit of my spark for it, although I love to be active and fit – T.R.E. has re-ignited my fascination with the body and what it’s capable of doing. It left me feeling relaxed, and my mind relaxed similar to after meditation.

    Fascinating stuff!

    Thanks for sharing this!

  249. Growing and cooking your own food is amazing way to mitigate stress/anxiety. Gardening/Farming includes physical activity, sense of discipline/patience, and is very satisfying…even if its just a small garden. Then the cooking part, probably will make you healthier in time and wealthier (saves you money) and you get to learn new skills (refer to Tim’s last book). Practically speaking…I feel like our ancestors did this more than we do now and anxiety/stress seems to be an increasing trend in our modern world. Conclusions: Grab some dirty/seeds/water…and get out in the sun. Simple and effective!

  250. You know the feeling while driving with yound children in the car for a while, everyone gets agitated? The kids are fighting, screeming, crying… the same happens when before going somewhere.

    And all you want to do is escape… I’ve found that after you put the children in their seats, just before you go into your’s, just delay for 10-20 seconds and enjoy to quiet. This gives you time to relex, but also to your children, as they realise that they don’t have an audience to their noise.

  251. Thank you Charlie. This post got to me at just the right time. I am suffering from anxiety right now and I feel my hands shaking or I will start to pick on my fingers over very minor things.

    I tried yoga, swimming and all that. It helps for a while, just a while, before everything comes back again. I understood all the theories but I can’t really control the negative emotions. And no amount of positive brain-washing really helps.

    I am definitely going to try out what you have suggested. Starting from getting my sleeping habits back and having fun (playing). I miss being young.

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing this and I look forward to a happier and less anxious me.

  252. Taking out caffeine for one week completely changed my thoughts on myself. I slept better and even stuck with just drinking water. I’ve also lost weight and actually had more energy and efficient days at work.

  253. Great Article. Read the whole thing. I was a previous anxiety sufferer who was put on SSRI’s for a year. I got off of them and feel better than ever by doing a lot of what you are talking about, albeit in different ways. BASKETBALL…IMO is the best form of “play”. Great workout, great fun. Very childlike sport which is great.

  254. I find it helpful that I learned T.R.E from your blog. I couldn’t agree more that as adults, we tend to supress ourselves with any unlikely body reaction so as not to embarrass ourselves but that brings more tension eventually; so it’s a good thing that an exercise was created to let loose of the tensions and stress.I’ve tried it and it’s much more relaxing than going to a spa-spree.

  255. When I was in 12th grade I taught myself self-hypnosis. At first it took me 20-30 minutes to fully relax each time. Now, many years later, I can reach full relaxation in 30-60 seconds. It works great if I need to take a short power nap or just need to block out all external stimuli for little while.

    When I use it to take a nap, because I am fully relaxed when entering the sleep cycle, I actually feel rested and alert after 10 minutes of sleep.

    It took a while to perfect it, but I can use it in just about any situation – at work, at home, at the airport.

    I tried an experiment once just to see how self-hypnosis affected me physically. During a routine physical checkup at my doctor’s office, the doctor took my blood pressure as he always does. It was a bit high (as it always is). I told him to wait 30 seconds and try again. I relaxed using my self-hypnosis techniques. He checked again and my blood pressure had dropped significantly. He was rather confused and told me to come back in 6 months to check it again. Ah…the tricks we play on the doctor! I imagine if I actually did self-hypnosis on a regular basis, it would solve the high blood pressure completely.

  256. My best cure for anxiety (besides cutting out coffee) is to hug a tree! No kidding. I find a good, strong, tree – in a location where I can’t really be seen by anyone else – and I give it a good hug.

    I also find rubbing my bare feet on pesticide-free grass or dipping them in a river also works. I think this may have something to do with our electromagnetic field and how much time we spend around electronics. Whatever the reason – it is a quick fix for anxiety.

  257. I know this may sound stupid but I am finding that using public transport to and from work is releasing enough anxiety to make me feel, well, less stressed. I work at a private school in Australia and each term – and most breaks – creates a seven-day working week. To save money on tolls and petrol, as well as the stress factor. I have been using public transport to get to and from work instead of driving as it gives me time between work where I work non-stop and home where I work too much. Public transport gives me the chance to reassess what I need to do and what I can do when I get home, as well as the chance to see the real-non-school world.

    Silly it may be, but effective.

  258. Appreciated all that is here, I’ve done all but the TRE, and been tested for micro-nutrients so thanks for those tips.

    My favourite anxiety defeating action, is to take a nice hot epsom salted bath, sometimes milk salts. Lovely, I’ve read in The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook (sorry don’t have author on hand), that pleasure and pain (anxiety) have a had time being in our brain at the same time, ie they can’t. So enjoying sometime has been good, like taking a bath!

  259. All nice points but I’m surprised no one has mentioned another crucial one – Fighting the anxiety. Exposing yourself to what causes anxiety (provided it’s not harming your health) and soldiering on past that dreaded feeling will start to remove anxiety from the roots. You know you’ve gone through hell once, and the next time you’ll be less anxious. Many a times our fears are baseless and such anxiety is best cured by exposure therapy.

    1. If exposure therapy worked so well how is it that performers like Barbra Streisand develop anxiety after a long career (which did not desensitized or prevented anxiety) and can’t perform? There are lots of famous singers that at some point can’t perform due to anxiety, I find it contradictory to the notion that exposure treats anxiety. Those people have immense amounts of exposure.

  260. Great information. I have used some of the ideas and going to try new ones you suggested.

    I use e exercise daily even have a circuit set up throughout my house such as total gym, step bench, exercise ball, free weights. Exercise bike, and while watching TV I get up at commercials and often do something in one area of the circuit. I love going out to hit few golf balls with a friend and will continue that.

    I often just put on my headphones, close my eyes and listen to music……and this isn’t physical exercise but clears my mind mentally…Baseball is and always will be our family’s passion. I love going to the ballpark and sitting way off to myself and relaxing while enjoying the atmosphere….it is one of my best memories and takes my mind back to a happy time in my life. .great memories… Loving that baseball season is here again. To top it off a bike ride on a sunny day sure can calm anyone. Thanks for a great article…working on sleep and nutrition now…

  261. The tremor exercises sound fascinating. Tremors are my main issue when I’m having an anxiety attack. I lose all control of my body and freak out. As far as techniques to aid during an attack, my favorite would have to be listening to beautiful music, like the kind you would hear during a massage. While listening I do deep breathing. I’m an actor and I have actually come off stage and gone straight to my iphone to listen to a song before my next entrance.

  262. I’m currently on two medications to help with my anxiety and I’m really interested in ready your book and the T.R.E. Book. Is the contest still going? I’m a poor college kid living at home still! Haha (:

  263. Excellent article. It’s as if you were writing about me. After years of constant “fight or flight” mode, I have now developed adrenal fatigue, added to other existing health issues. It’s tough – and some of your suggestions I do, but other I’ve never heard of. Thanks for these tip, definitely going to give them a try.

  264. Most of the anxiety I feel stems either from the feeling of losing control over my life and surroundings or the sense of potential failure.

    I have found that Martial arts Kata/forms/patterns helps relax me.

    The combination of meditative movement (once committed to muscle memory), physical activity and the control I feel over my body helps me overcome the anxiety I sometimes feel.

  265. Listening to paraliminals, focusing on the present and some physical exercise such as swimming or basketball work for me. They take practice and work better when incorporated into a routine and work regularly. Also, just sitting in church or trusting in a higher power takes the pressure of to a great extent

  266. Tim, after reading your book I can only say im getting more and more impressed with your content as time goes on.

    This is an amazing write up of controlling anxiety, you hit the nail on the head with the coffee and most defiantly 3-4 cups a day it too much.

    What is your opinion on intensive training (e.g. bodybuilding) on anxiety levels if your going to failure?

    I’d love to see another write up about anxiety, I will defiantly follow it up. Thanks for the article.

  267. Either a silent scream or even better go to the woods/nature and scream it out to G-D , aim it high as you can go and let it out! Advice from the great sage Rebbe NAchman of BReslov……you will be amazed how effective this is! Last time I did this for 3 days I felt I was going to explode….. I read this advice and screamed for an hour in a special place….. About an hour later I suddenly felt a great joy and sense of well being !

  268. I got up at 3 am this morning…riddled with anxiety. “I didn’t do enough; I should have done more.” Why am I putting all this pressure on myself? I popped open my computer and saw this Post of Charlie’s. Thanks Tim for sending it. These are very cool tips.

  269. Wow! This is exactly what I needed to read! Play is number 1. I definitely have forgotten to play. It is quite sad to realize how much you miss out on of fun and relaxation when you go, go, go, and don’t play. Overall, a super useful, great article that has something for everyone to apply! Thanks!

  270. “I couldn’t see it for a long time, but I was the creator of my own anxious reality.” So very true! Thank you for this amazing post! I’ve been reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain, and am reminded that sometimes the anxiety I feel is because I haven’t been taking good care of my introvert/extrovert needs. Being overloaded with too much stimuli causes everything else to go haywire. You points on eating, play (although I’d vote for non-group activity) and naps fit right into this.

  271. Following my morning workout, I do a guided meditation for 20 minutes. It melts away my anxiety and dramatically impacts the rest of my day. Because of it, my day is significantly more fun and joyful.

  272. Thanks Charlie and Tim for the post. I had heard your interview with James Altucher Charlie and I definitely could identify with what you went through. As a game developer with OCD I was chronically anxious and overworked until I burnt out and lost my job. But then I was able to focus on methods to manage my anxieties and now I live a mostly anxiety-free life.

    If I had to choose ONE technique, I would say to practice mindfulness in your daily life. By that I mean being in the present moment. Before I would have endless streams of automatic thoughts that would loop all day and cause me to always be anxious about something that had already happened or something that might happen. Now I try to keep a present centered awareness and deal with things as they come.

  273. My therapist runs a TRE group, and it’s AMAZING. It’s initially really weird — like “what’s going on here?” — but when I let my body tremor the way IT wants to, it releases SO much tension. I love it, love it, love it!!!

  274. This makes a lot of sense. I’m gonna develop a plan using these tips and get on it! I did notice this past Easter playing soccer, softball and some football was great for my foggy head head feeling the next day, I’ll post after trying these out! Thanks for the post

  275. Often, going for a long run relieves most of my stress. And, getting regular sleep helps. Sex is good. I cry when I need to.

  276. Thank you for sharing your story,solid information I hope can relieve some

    anxiety in my kids. Exercise has been their outlet but not solution. Like us,

    they are too scheduled and pressured with expectations to succeed and do

    more but where is the fun and the release of stress. Looking forward to embracing a new outlook and trying some new techniques.

  277. Oh my god….the only method I havent tried is TRE. This looks amazing and makes complete sense. Whilst the others work, Id love to continue to find out more about this as I think it will help my patients as well as myself. Thank you for making me aware of this technique!!

  278. Thank you Tim for this article. I am doing yoga too, helps a lot. Also we should really stay away from technology unless absolutely necessary and live naturally, maybe almost like an ascetic 🙂

  279. Thanks for all the tips in this article, mainly the trauma reducing exercise.

    I would like to share an experience I had once, when I had to attend a meeting with another 5-6 people that was about one of them being fired and the lawyers had to modify the agreement. I had no part to play in the whole meeting and the atmosphere was full of tension. So while waiting for the office clerk to bring the new printed copies of the modified document, I took some paper and started folding little frogs that you can make hop around. One of the lawyers even enjoyed it and wanted himself a frog to make it hop. At that time I did not yet know about the concept of play reducing anxiety, I just felt the need for it.

  280. Where hell have you been, Tim??….I needed to read this 4 years ago. My anxiety, my depression are (were) so severe at times that I have to lay in bed the entire day. That feeling that something ominous is right around the corner stayed with me for YEARS!…I’ve never heard of TRE until I read your piece and I have to say that, THAT is one weird way to release pent up tension–and it works. Thank you. Now, I’m going to play.

  281. Hmmm, I’ve never heard of the T.R.E. System but it sort of makes sense to me. I often have what appears to be built up anxious energy in me. It’s not so much energy to go accomplish things, just a whole lot of agitation. Even touch/massage helps get rid if this but that that’s not a practical daily solution, nor is 2x/day in the gym most of the time. I’m curious as to whether tremors could be good for me and I’d happily take a free book.

  282. Something that is worth doing is considering the relationship of your anxiety to other mental/neurological issues. It’s common for people with ADHD to experience anxiety (if you can never tell whether or not you’ll be in awesome-super-hyperfocus-mode or distracted-hazy-LOOK A SQUIRREL-mode, it’s pretty easy to be anxious about realizing your goals). Depression makes everything worse too, sapping energy, motivation, and isolating you from the good interactions that would help both your depression and your anxiety.

    The particular combination may affect the best way of treating them: talk therapy and med-wise, as well as general lifestyle changes like the above. Just to pick a way this might matter from the list above. It’s common advice to cut out stimulants if you’re suffering from anxiety. However, for people with ADHD and anxiety, this may not be the best choice. It’s common for people with undiagnosed ADHD to use caffeine to “treat” their hyperactivity. It actually allows them to calm down and focus. Even if cutting out the stimulants has some helpful effect on their anxiety, it might make coping with their ADHD worse, which in turn might negate the helpful effect on their anxiety, or even make it worse, depending on the relationship between their ADHD and anxiety.

  283. 1. checking inside to see what is bothering me at the moment. If i can’t find the thought, I go to the body and feel where I am tense or anxious.

    2. Allowing that feeling instead of pushing it away. Even ramping up the feeling so to let go of all resistance to having it.

    3. After it is ramped up to the maximum, letting it drop, and relax.

    4. Defuse from the energy, feeling, thought, emotion by asking, who or what is it that is aware of the feeling?

    5. Dropping into the field of awareness itself,

    6. From that space re-visiting the energy that was distressing to see what is really true. (I’m here, now, fed, sheltered, and safe).

    Anxiety is about the future, which isn’t here in the moment, and with all our worrying about it, usually doesn’t turn out the way we imagined anyway.

  284. You are truly a breath of fresh air! I have only read a few articles, but I am hooked. I suffer from anxiety and OCD. I can’t wait to try the 6 techniques!

    Currently I am in talk therapy, trying yoga, and have started Vit D, Calcium and Fish Oil supplements.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  285. I have had panic attacks in the past along with thoughts of fear & anxiety and I’ve tried pretty much everything you’ve tried Tim – including Valium, Chakra training, special breathing techniques, etc. And my best tip for managing anxiety is to go to a private place and sit down, close my eyes, breathe and think of all the things I’m thankful for.

  286. I liked what you wrote. I have severe anxiety and have never heard of the things you talked about. The trauma exercise I really want to try. And exercise and play , well that too . I used to do self hypnosis and it worked for awhile. I have ptsd too. Very good tips , thanks.

  287. Fantastic stuff, Charlie (he says, guzzling coffee to keep awake; writer’s hours, ya know)! Anxiety is a killer. I love the advice about play. It’s SO important, but even with a large brood – 5 kids – I often fail to take the time. Doing my best to put your sage advice into practice.



  288. This post is a great help. I agree with tuning out the news. All of it, whether it’s about the government or not would trigger anxious thoughts in me. I even stopped watching TV. I only get tidbits of information from people and sometimes the internet. I would like to tryout the sleeping and napping tips but as of now, I don’t have the time. I will try everything here eventually.

    Also, for me, it really helps when you have people close to you who understands you when you get anxiety attacks. Whenever I get them, my boyfriend is always there to calm me down and talk me for a walk or stroll. Support group is really important.

  289. (I loved your suggestions above!)

    My favorite techniques for anxiety are two:

    1. I use a hand technique (mudra) to lower my heart rate whenever needed. On each hand, I fold my forefinger inward to rest on the inside of my thumb where it meets the palm. Then I curve the tips of my 3rd and 4th finger to touch my thumb.

    2. I get acupuncture when I have the chance and when I can get on a weekly schedule. My body and mind tend to run better when I get regularly balanced. The best deals for acupuncture are at the local acupuncture colleges, if you live near one. Usually anywhere from $10-35 dollars…and the interns (who are supervised by licensed acupuncturists/faculty) actually have more acupuncture training than an MD, DC or PT.

    (Thanks for the info and help in reducing anxiety…I especially liked the suggestion to avoid the news…hard to do but it makes a real difference!)

  290. The minute I read “enjoy guilt-free play with friends” my anxiety skyrocketed. One of the things that causes me anxiety is I’m such a loner don’t really have friends and have trouble making them

  291. Silent walks in nature. Best alone, but you can also do a silent walk with a friend. Most often when with a friend we agree to walk the first half in silence. The conversation during the second half of the walk is much less edgy after being in silence for some time.

  292. This is a topic Ive been thoroughly exploring for a couple of years now:

    One day I was especially anxious and grumpy about it too. I noticed my kids always giggled while jumping on the big outdoor trampoline. After a few minutes of bouncing I could no longer hold the grumpiness in and began to relax & breathe. Carefree & light hearted I realized how much effort it takes to hold the breathe & grumpy anxiety in while giggle bouncing.. Now I schedule tramp time regularly.

    I buy Oatstraw & Kava in bulk and drink a strong brew nightly. They both promote relaxation and are tonics for the nervous system.

    Getting an essential amino acid test revealed significant deficiencies- a custom amino acid blend has made a huge difference.

    I also receive both CranioSacral Therapy & Massage bi monthly.. Bring on the endorphins & oxytocin!

    Am super looking forward to trying TRE!

  293. While I agree with the strategies Charlie has shared in this article and he has given some very sound advice in dealing with anxiety, I am not sure the title is entirely accurate. From someone who knows all too well the effects of anxiety and other social phobias, feelings of self-doubt, etc. Are we truly ever “cured” of these issues and rid ourselves of the internal struggles. I personally believe that we learn to identify and manage our inner turmoil but never fully shed those feelings. Diet, exercise and routines such as Charlie has suggested certainly go a long way in minimizing the severity or effects of anxiety, I am skeptical that they will provide a Cure. Maybe I am being too analytical or focused on a word, but I believe it’s an important distinction.

  294. I walk my pet twice a day, in the morning before I leave and in the evening when I get back from work. I try to sit down for half hour, once a week, and play my guitar. I also save sometime to play football games on my portible videogame.

    Since I use public transportation to go around during the week, I always hold a new book, it’s a great way to take advantage of long bus rides.

  295. I manage anxiety by breathing and meditating (TM). I also have to constantly remind myself that my fears aren’t real. I’m also in analysis, which is helping to find the root of my fears. It also helps to remind myself how much love I have in my life. But, I really need more play time. Thanks for your suggestions.

  296. Some of the language here sounds suspiciously similar to that used in the book, The Now Habit, by author Neil Fiore. I’m not suggesting he *invented* these concepts, however, the term “guilt-free play” and the idea of “focusing on just 30-minutes of quality work” appear borrowed directly from his book. That’s all well-and-good, but please do credit Fiore as you have your other sources. While many of Fiore’s concepts may seem common-sense to folks now, that’s only because others now borrow so liberally from his wisdom. As a medical doctor practicing psychotherapy exclusively, I feel qualified in saying that Fiore truly was the first to correctly identify the psychological roots of procrastination as an expression of anxiety. His book remains, in my opinion, the landmark work on procrastination and one of the single best reads on anxiety – I recommend it to all my patients, most of whom are university students, and can honestly say that I wouldn’t have gotten into (or through) medical school without it.

  297. A small aquarium with 8 to 10 fish swimming around live plants has been very therapeutic an relaxing for me. It produces a tremendously calming effect to watch the fish effortlessly glide through the water. Awesome.

  298. I enjoyed reading this message. My oldest daughter suffers from anxiety and depression. I thought I had given her the best options for treating her symptoms. After reading this, I now have another option to offer. One of your techniques is extremely interesting to me. Trauma releasing exercise.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I will keep you posted if and when my daughter takes a liking to your techniques.

  299. Hi tim and the team

    Thank you for such a great post. I don’t know whether this is the correct place but ill have a go. My anxiety comes from seeing my beloved parents detoriating, in an interview you mentioned that you have overcome this. Could you if possible share your thoughts or if not tell some of the books which were helpful.

    Again apologies if this is too personal,



  300. I try meditation,mindfulness! Jogging on treadmill for thirty more n a day with yoga or the bike! Recently starting taking b12 sublingual, under tongue only 250mg a day and seen an improvement in my anxiety! Really want to be cured! I have a four yr old that needs his mother! I’ve recently had anxiety five mths now! I had to give up my job and move in with my mother,at 36 yes old! Really want to buy your book but can’t afford!! Please desperate for your help!!!

  301. What a terrific article. Thank you for sharing this!

    My fiancee has struggled with anxiety and depression for almost a year now, and I felt like we had exhausted every treatment method – and nothing turned it around for her. My hope is that systematically working in these six points will do the trick for a long-term lifestyle overhaul that will help her control these feelings.

    I’m a very analytical man by nature, so seeing these in list form has helped me grasp why certain things are happening to her. It has also helped me understand what she’s going through (something I often struggle with as I don’t have a personal frame of reference).

    Thank you for helping me to understand. Thank you for giving us a glimmer of hope in a frustrating situation.

  302. I love these tips! And, along with trauma release, other types of body work such a cranial sacral release and chakra energy balancing can be very helpful. Even though Charlie tried journaling and didn’t find it effective, maybe in combination with this list – especially if you are a writer! – you might gain some amazing benefits, both physically and creatively. I’ve been using the journaling process for years.

  303. I have used heart breathing by hearthmath in CA. by focusing on your heart while breathing bring in a heart emotion like gratitude or compassion and in a few minutes whatever upset you were feeling will be replaced with one of these wonderful emotions….check them out and enjoy. Ben

  304. I used to have really bad anxiety but here are a few of my observations that have kind of helped. The majority of my anxiety comes/came from What if-worst case scenarios. I remember a conversation with a friend who lived far away in a city that wanted me to visit him. I was making excuses and I said, I am afraid of driving in a big city or on a long trip, what if my car breaks down? My friend said-so, you will call a tow truck. It was like-Bamm!!!, yeah I’ll just call a tow truck and it eased my mind almost immediately. Basically, I think many of us who are anxious underestimate our coping or problem solving skills. What’s helped me is basically reassuring myself that no matter what happens I’ll handle it to the best of my ability. Easier said then done, I am a work in progress 🙂 One final thing-I used to think that excessively worrying about something would magically make it disappear. Accept what it is that you are worried about and work towards a solution but if it’s something that you can’t really control just try and put it perspective. And I totally agree regarding caffeine, sleep, exercise,etc.

    1. The funny thing about imagination is it seems to hit a certain point–e.g. the car breaking down–and then stops. And replays to that point, over and over.

      Imagination forgets that real life… continues. 🙂 Other things happen. Next thing you know, it’s an hour/day/week/month/year later and whatever you were replaying is long past and likely forgotten–if it even occurred at all.

  305. How I cope with anxiety: First: pray to Jehovah God; 2nd: meditate on a brighter future; 3rd: talk with a good friend; 4th: remember that tomorrow will be better; 5th: get a good night’s sleep.

    I would really LOVE TO WIN the T.R.E. book for my friend. He recently ran over a pedestrian (who died upon impact) while he was driving a bus; after that trauma, the family sued him; then he was diagnosed with leukemia (plus he is a Vietnam vet). I think this book was help him with his healing. Thank you very much for all your work!!!

  306. I recently heard about a new oral prescription alternative to the injections called Eligen B12. I recently read that it works even if you don’t have intrinsic factor (so even if you don’t have normal gut absorption). Apparently it came out a month or two ago. Has anyone heard of it or tried it??

  307. I have cured or I should say greatly reduced my anxiety/depression by taking a few over the counter supplements. Here they are:

    1. Calcium Magnesium Complex

    2. Inositol

    3. B Complex

    4. optional-lithium orotate

  308. I like to find a dark room and a comfortable spot to lie down, and then I close my eyes and gently focus on my breathing. When I find my focus slipping I try not to become frustrated, but rather just allow myself to flow back into my breathing. The point is to have compassion for yourself…

  309. Good on you Charlie for having the guts to speak up and make the lifestyle changes required to rediscover the person you really are. Anxiety in modern day society is the elephant in the room for all the reasons you have outlined. High functioning people are often the last to be honest with themselves while having to portray an image of success. Dr Bill WALSH a chemical engineer (google ‘walshinstitute’) who helped me discover the importance of getting the nutritional basics right to correct micro-nutrients . A biochemical anomaly known by several names including ‘Pyrrole Disorder’ is a reality and great example of the need for balance … be – sleep – nutrition – exercise – community

  310. My favorite technique for relieving anxiety is listening to a funny or entertaining podcast while running or commuting. I can’t read, because my mind wanders, and I find combining listening with a slow run gives me the relaxing effects of exercise while also distracting my mind so I can’t obsess over things. Listening while commuting also helps me decompress on the way home from work, and get calm and focused, but not obsessive/manic, on the way to work.

  311. Solid post! – I spent the past two years going through anxiety because of work. I have incorporated a few techniques from the post buy I be sure to add others.. more specifically the TRE exercise, I’ve never heard of this!

  312. At 34 I was diagnosed with chronic hypertension and left ventricular hypertrophy (enlarged heart due to the muscle working harder). Every single test I took, of which there were many, showed no damaged or signs o f physical factors that could be increasing the blood pressure. The cause was in my mind.

    I had individually found my way to all the above methods and they have had the same effect, I have bought everything back in line and learned to relax. My heart muscle regressed and I was back to normal.

    I hadn’t tried the trauma exercises and I will this week. a

    Also, a must read on this is the book ‘reasons to stay alive’ by published writer Matt Haig. The link is below and he charts his way through depression and all the steps he used to cure it. The writing is frightening, absorbing and at the same time inspiring. He arrives at similar tips as here. Reccomended.

  313. Thanks for the info. My main technique for calming my anxiety is eating, which you can imagine just creates more anxiety! Looking forward to the free copy of your book.

  314. Thank you for the information and actionable items presented here. For me, I have found that meditation can be an amazing antidote to anxiety as well. There are many types of meditation, but for anxiety in particular I choose a modality that I can do sitting or standing, in a meeting or at my desk, eyes open or closed. I scan my body and check in with what is happening with that particular part of my body at that moment in time. Since anxiety is caused by our natural fight or flight instinct, checking in with the physical reality of this moment helps calm those instinctual responses. I’ll remind myself “oh wait, I’m not being chased by a tiger or about to get eaten, I’m just sitting at a desk, everything is actually fine right now”, but then actually feel my body, reconnect with the sensation of being alive and listen to the sound of my breath. That also helps out myself back in charge of my experience when anxiety threatens to take control.

  315. Great post.

    My technique is I try to see my troubles in their proper perspective. 2 months from now I will not be worrying about this troubles, so I try to assume now the same attitude that I will have 2 months from now.

  316. PLAY! PLAY! PLAY!!!! I needed this.. I will look for ways to have more fun.Also the T. R. E exercises seem interesting and promising, I will look into it and try it out. Thanks guys!…also magnesium supplement seems really help me with anxiety.

  317. The concept of TRE has peaked my interest. I have general anxiety and it is untreated with regards to external professionals. I work in a demanding environment with a high level of responsibility. I am a firm believer that the mind body connection is the root of anxiety and coping skills. Along with nutrition and hydration. I’m interested in researching more of the TRE. The idea you explained seems to make simple sense.

  318. Same good experiences here with 2-no news (a house in the country, no TV, no phone, certainly no internet, mobile off: Aaah, silence 🙂 and 4-no coffee.

    Also: Do a fasting diet w/ continuous meals of (nothing more than) thinly sliced apples+metamucil (psyllium ) powder over 2 weeks, once a year.

    (in German[y] google Rene Graeber Heilfasten).

    Also, if wearing glasses: Buy a copy with 1..1,5.. diopters less (keep the full one in the car for driving at dawn/night). Eyes usually adjust under daylight.

    Also: Relax by lying down not moving a mm [US:micro-inch ;-)] Some time passed by feet and/or neck will “creak” and relax in a more comfortable “bone setting” – at least with me – but do not move!

  319. All of these are good suggestions. I would add that you should also check with your primary care physician. My anxiety manifested as heart palpitations amount other things but I drove myself crazy thinking something was wrong with my heart. My PCP listened and said for women she liked to prove to them that everything was okay.

    She sent me to a heart specialist who did a stress test and echocardiogram. Expensive but everything was fine. When I had the heart palpations again, I could truly ignore them because I KNEW my heart was fine. Sometimes you just need that professional reassurance.

  320. I love EFT for releasing stress. In spite of serious doubts about the theory behind it, the practice of tapping on various points on your body (reminding yourself that feelings are rooted in the body) and giving yourself permission to feel and accept them, helps the mind feel more in control, more relaxed, and more capable of dealing with future challenges.

  321. One hour power yoga class every weekday in a hot room with some cool people. There are many benefits, stress and anxiety reduction is right up there.

  322. I know this is an old article, but I was wondering which of these techniques people found most effective if they tried all 6 of them, or just a few? IF you tried them, did you just use the descriptions here from the article, or did you have to do more research on each to be able to use them to successfully reduce stress/anxiety?

  323. I have incorporated yoga into my workouts. The breathing techniques, which I was skeptical when I first started, have really helped, even outside of the yoga room. I didn’t realize how much the breathing helped with the poses, but also in calming my mind and body

  324. Ive simply set a 15min time period to just sit and stare (if brain is too active, I watched crashing waves or flickering fire – plenty of meditation videos on youtube). Profound effect on my emotional well being but especially effective at clearing my mental hard drive.

  325. Anxiety is a new problem for me, after a couple of major life traumas, culminating in the death of my brother. Been to a couple of doctors and have been force feed everything from Xanax to Lexapro, and have stopped everything with the exception of .5mg of Xanax as needed. For me, fun exercise has been huge, and have now made it a part of my daily routine. Thank you for your post.

  326. This is so right and timely for me- I have been suffering from burnout and work related exhaustion that has affected every part of my life- I keep having what I have called ‘buzzing’- weird internal tremor that I have tried to mitigate with meditation and deep breathing. But this TRE is absolutely what the doctor ordered- I am going to try this today. Also, I am not a ‘play’ type person (hence the anxiety!), but this post reminded me to DANCE- really free, all out there dancing to loud music is the ticket!

  327. Been playing with Wim Hoff method breathing style, and have found that it reduces the amount of physical tension due to stress that I feel. There seems to be some good connection to Systema’s approach to breathing, which I have played with a little bit. These have helped.

    I have been asking family and friends to pray.

    I have also been working on finding truth to stand on like:

    “I walk in the strength of the Lord” Psalms 71:16

    “Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

    I have called you by name, you are mine.

    When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

    when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

    and the flame shall not consume you.”

    Isaiah 43:1b-2

  328. Hi Tim,

    Great article!! I recently graduated with my masters in social work with a focus on trauma-informed care. I have never tried TRE, but am fascinated by it and would enjoy learning more. Maybe I could use it in my practice one day. My colleagues and I work in the psychiatric department of the Emergency Room, so we would most certainly benefit from it too! Thank you for the article. I feel less anxious already!

  329. Thanks for this Post. I was happy to learn that I am already doing the Exercise and the sleep bits. (I have an alarm 1hr before I’d like to go to bed). My friends thought this was weird. But Im glad to know that Im not alone. I haven’t been exercising lately and that is leaving me a bit foggy so Im going to get back on that.

    As an effect of reading this post, I am going to :

    1) Incorporate exercise everyday ((a)try out at home or (b)join a group workout if (a) doesn’t work well)

    2) Try out T.R.E exercises in the morning.

    3) Take the Micronutrient test.

  330. Hello. Can you make a TLDR of this post and post it at the top of the article. It is very useful, but Id like to see a list of the six points of advice given.

  331. Some of these strategies look as if they could be very helpful. I’m 17 years old and have had anxiety for close to a year and have been going to counseling for 6 months. The counseling has helped greatly I am now at what I would consider a high functioning anxiety level. I still experience anxious feelings sometimes and the light headed feelings that come along with my anxiety are almost constantly there but with the help of counseling I’ve learned to deal with these feelings and to do things I would normally do regardless of how I feel. Lately I’ve had the feelings of dread surface. I never had those sad dreadful feelings with the anxiety before but for some reason they have come in intervals over the past month or two. I’ve recognized what causes those feelings as thoughts of how life was before anxiety came about. Ways I’ve countered that is not by avoiding those thoughts necessarily but instead looking at it as I still go out and do things that I did before anxiety I still enjoy going out to eat spending time with family and doing different things I’ve always done. By looking at it like this I give myself the thought of this isn’t that bad and this doesn’t have 100% control of my life which does seem to always help. But I’ve been searching for ways to not just help me through the tough days but help reduce the overall anxiety level. The That’s where this article intrigues me because some of the things brought up in this article are things my counselor has brought up before like doing fun things with friends. I’m an introverted shy person so this was a bit difficult for me but I’ve tried it and most times the friends I asked were busy so I would go myself or with my mom. As far as the sleeping goes I rarely even on days of anxiety have trouble sleeping but creating a constant time to go to sleep so you always get at least 8 hours of sleep could help for sure. I’ve improved greatly in my anxiety since it all began I used to not be able to stay the whole time at a simple birthday party because the anxiety was too much but now I enjoy daily fun activities even if I’m experiencing anxiety that day I don’t choose to sit around and wait and hope the anxiety magically goes away by doing nothing. As far as the the exercise goes since I live in PA and it’s winter my exercise has been going to the gym my mom and I just recently joined a gym and I’ve noticed when I’m at the gym all the feelings associated with anxiety go away. Basically I’m writing this half to show people that you can enjoy life even with anxiety as long as you allow yourself to and don’t sit around and constantly feel bad for yourself. I have faith that in time the anxiety will go away as long as I continue to go about life like normal. The other reason I’m writing this is because the counseling has helped greatly and my therapist is great but he’s not going to have all the answers and I’m open to here suggestions from other people as to what they think could help me continue along the improvement process. Sorry for the length but I needed to get this off my chest.

  332. I’ve recently started taking meditation more seriously and now meditate everyday. I have a super active mind which would sometimes distract me while I’m painting. Meditation has helped me to be present and focus while I paint. It’s an amazing feeling to let your ego go while you paint and just flow through each movement. [Moderator: link removed]

  333. So my understanding is that supplementing B12 is almost pointless if your gut health is not in order. This is due to b12 being absorbed by a part of the lower intestine that requires healthy bacteria for the process to occur. Hence why your urine is such a bright yellow when you take a multi vitamin. Is this accurate?

  334. This article is terrific – and I’m not just writing a comment to get the free TRE book because I just bought it. I present psycho educational classes on stress management and improving sleep among other topics. You’ve described these principles beautifully and I’ll be sure to share it with my classes. Now excuse me, I’ve got some shaking to do.

  335. To reduce my stress I get up at 4:15am, 5 days a week to do crossfit at our gym. Every Tuesday my horse trainer and I go for a trail ride. My horse is great therapy! Also, I go to different National or State parks to photograph the landscape and wildlife. I take fish oil and supplements, never watch the news, and make myself get adequate sleep.

  336. A friend offered this suggestion and as crazy as it sounds, it worked. I was a true worrier. She made me choose a specific time of day to worry. If I caught myself worrying at any other time during the day, I had to write down what I was worrying about and put it in the worry jar. Then i had to immediately force myself to think of something relaxing. At the appointed time, I got my worry jar and sat there for the required 30 minutes doing nothing but worrying about all the things I had placed in the jar. Of course by that time many of the things I had been worrying about had resolved themselves without any of my energy.

  337. Wow congrats…i hv anxiety due to my own health wich one day i got a panic attack wherby i tot it was a heart attack…ever since my gut been killing me and my hands were twitching trembling then i tot i was having cancer as well as stomach cancer..finally after 4months went for endoscopy found out its hpylori after d triple regime medicstion i was abit ok bt stil had d chest pain burning sensation wich i tot i was having angina or heart attack bt feb 2016 my dr refered me 2 psychiatric clinic and march i was on escitalpram was good for 2 1st 2weeks now in in bad shape thy increased my dose 2 7.5mg well 2day is my 1st day i feel much more worst i hop the side effects goes off as well as i hav to start exercising mayb wil help me…i cant focus my daily routine yes i agree w u news does affect us tq for such informative blog…i hop i wil recover soon

  338. This is going to sound a bit weird – since I have a long commute I practice what Tim suggested one of his friends said,” Right now I am driving, while I am driving this is what I am doing.” and it really helps me from being frustrated in traffic. Another weird one I do is I will do is what I call a “tension scan”. I focus on areas where I feel tension in my body – typically for me this is between the eyes, my hands, and upper back. I then do five long exhales for each tight area and imagine it melting. Really works for me if I visualize the muscles relaxing as the air flows out.

  339. Thanks for sharing! Here’s few things that come my mind as we’re discussing how to “cure” anxiety. Anxiety is actually a pretty normative aspect of human experience that stems from our physiological fight-or-flight response, which has been incredibly adaptive from an evolutionary perspective. In many ways, anxiety can be a really valuable source of information that we need to change something, e.g.,the situation we’re in, our appraisals of the situation, or start preparing for something in the future. So to get rid of anxiety completely, as nice as that would feel in the short term, is actually not that adaptive (nor possible) in the long-term. What may be a more realistic goal is to learn how to attend to and manage our worries and stress levels before they start limiting our quality of life and the ability to engage with other people. I think some of the strategies mentioned here may be effective with that.

  340. The one technique for me that has an instant effect is to remember I have a sense of humour. Joking more, making funny gestures, and ‘lightening up’ has amazing physical & mental benefits when it’s needed most.

  341. First off, I want to say thanks for this article. I’ve never had a smidge of anxiety up until about two months ago. When it started, it was the only time i actually thought i was going to die. At the time, I was supposed to pick up my two boys and all I could think about was them waiting for their dad… I spent two straight nights in the ER bc i had no idea what was going on. After figuring out i had anxieties, my battle was half gone. I then began to realize what triggered these attacks. I then learned what helps calm my mind and relaxes me. For me, breathing correctly probably saved my mind and body. I started shutting my phone off and put full concentration on doing whayever my boys had in mind. I started to enjoy my 9holes of golf before i had to pick up my boys instead of running around the course worried about the time. I learned that talking about the problem helps(even though its impossible to explain to others that havent experienced it) Once again,I want to say THANK YOU for sharing your experiences and tips. Obviously im too late for any free books but Im glad I read your article.

  342. Charlie and Tim –

    Thanks for this great post! I use exercise, a consistent bedtime, power naps, exercise, nutrition, and unplugging in mature (usually hiking) to help find balance and fight anxiety. As an entrepreneur it can be difficult to do these things, but I find that when I schedule them in I am much more productive. Some other favorite tricks I use are:

    1. Headspace – Tim recommends this app on his podcast. I now meditate each morning before work and find that I am more calm and focused. The app also helps me fall asleep much faster at night and for power naps!

    2. Juggling – I am not very good at juggling, but it takes a great amount of concentration and helps me to calm down and bring things back into perspective during the day.

    3. Music – I love music. It is also a great cognitive and breathing exercise (when singing or playing a wind instrument) and helps me similarly to juggling. It fills my soul. I am religious and find an added amount of peace singing, playing, or listening to hymns as well.

    4. Standing vs. Sitting – I recently converted an Ikea dresser into a standing desk. I still use my normal desk as well, but I find I get much less stressed when I stand at least 50% of the time.

    5. Service and Gratitude- Anxiety often comes from being too self-centered and focused on our own problems. Taking a moment each day to serve those less fortunate and to show gratitude for the abundance I have (even, no, especially when everything is going wrong) has a very positive impact on my anxiety and happiness. Besides, if everyone would just practice a little more selfless service and gratitude then most of the negative news and media wouldn’t even exist to worry us! This tip is the most important as it affects not only individuals but the world as a whole.

    “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” -Rabindranath Tagore

    Where I most need to improve: Playing with friends.

    I always see a huge benefit when I do this, but need to schedule it in! I am making this a priority 😉

    Thanks again for the great post, and best of luck to everyone!