I didn't always struggle with anxiety — or maybe I did and just didn't understand how it manifests itself — but over the course of the past few years, I've found myself in new territory. Therapists often try to help patients get to the root cause of their anxiety; I should know, my dad is one. But for me, identifying the things that trigger my anxiety hasn't been enough. It's also about finding healthy ways to manage it because anxiety isn't something you can simply turn off.
I've tried guided meditations, breathing exercises, and even practicing yoga, none of which did the trick for me. Getting some fresh air does help, but going for a walk isn't going to make my anxiety disappear. As a writer, I found that keeping a journal helped me process what I was feeling, but eventually I got lazy and fell out of practice. It wasn't until I got into the habit of taking a hot shower when I felt stressed or anxious that I finally found a way to instantly feel calmer.
It might sound silly that something this simple — that requires no exercise or activity — could help calm my anxiety, but it does. The pressure and warmth of the hot water raining down from the shower head soothes me the same way others are comforted by a weighted blanket. It's like a big, warm embrace. Plus, when I'm feeling really anxious, I can get short of breath and feel like a ton of bricks is sitting on my chest. The steam helps me take deep, calming breaths again.
Some may argue that being completely alone with your thoughts will only make your anxiety worse, but I find it to be the opposite.
The quiet solitude is perhaps the greatest benefit of all. I've tried listening to soothing music on my phone, but half the time I end up scrolling on social media, just out of habit. Once I step foot in the shower, there are no distractions whatsoever. Some may argue that being completely alone with your thoughts will only make your anxiety worse, but I find it to be the opposite. My anxiety usually creeps in when I'm feeling overwhelmed, so being in an environment where I can sort through what I'm feeling without other things vying for my attention is incredibly helpful.
Whether I'm on a tight deadline for work or dealing with stress and uncertainty in other areas of my life, taking a hot shower is my form of meditation. The next time you're feeling anxious, try it for yourself.