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.

DO IT NOW

Schedule a daily reminder to Play. Ask a friend, co-worker, or neighbor to play catch. Search Yelp.com 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.

FREQUENCY

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.]

COST

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.

RESOURCES

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.

DO IT NOW

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.

COST

Free.

RESOURCES

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.

DO IT NOW

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.

COST

Free.

FREQUENCY

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

RESOURCES

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.

DO IT NOW

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.

COST

Free.

 

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.

DO IT NOW

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

FREQUENCY

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

COST

$10 for the book.

RESOURCES

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.

DO IT NOW

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

FREQUENCY

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.

COST

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.

RESOURCES

[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 more than 500 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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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;-)

  7. 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.

  8. 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).

  9. 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.

  10. 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 !

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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,

    d

  20. 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.

  21. 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!)

  22. 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 – http://www.seekinghealth.com/b-complex-supplement.html) 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.

  23. 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 🙂

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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 (www.forperfectbalance.com) 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…

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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!

  31. 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!

  32. 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…

    Masturbation.

    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 😉

  33. 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.

    Steve.

  34. 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 😉

  35. 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

  36. 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!

  37. 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.

  38. 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!

  39. 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.

  40. 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. 🙂

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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!

  44. 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!

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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!

  49. 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 😉

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. 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!

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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!

  58. 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!

  59. 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!

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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).

  63. 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.

  64. 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

  65. 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.

  66. 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!!!!

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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!

  70. 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!

  71. 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.

  72. 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.

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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.

  79. 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!

  80. 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.

  81. 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…

  82. 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.

  83. 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 (:

  84. 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.

  85. 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.

  86. 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

  87. 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.