Are you freaking out right now? About a boy? Or your job? Or paying bills? Or your friends? Or something wildly out of your control? Your mind is racing, your thoughts are churning, maybe you have a headache and a stomachache and you kind of want to scream.
Pal, I've been there. It's not the best of times. Here are some things you can do instead:
1. Run around the block
Playlist: jock jams (LET'S GET READY TO RUUUMMBLEEEEEEEEEE)
As we all know from Reese Witherspoon: "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy." I am BY NO MEANS the queen of exercise. I pretty much hate it. But there have been at least a few occasions when a swift sprint around the block has cleared my head and helped release a lot of nervous energy.
2. Make spaghetti
Playlist: Etta James with a side of Louis Armstrong
Get in that kitchen, Donna Reed. Put on an apron and create something. You don't even have to be fancy (spaghetti is by no means gourmet). I have found that spending time in the kitchen is therapeutic because it's equal parts productive and relaxing. You're focused on a project (productive), but taking time to prepare a meal means you have to slow down and go one step at a time (relaxing). Add a glass of wine or a lil brewski and BA-DING.
3. Clean the bathroom
Playlist: Original Broadway Casts (Sing along. Obviously.)
I've said it before, and it bears repeating. Cleaning anything, but most especially a grimy bathroom (oh, yours never gets grimy because you clean it so regularly? .....how nice for you.) bathroom, might be the ultimate redirection of stress-energy. You know, when you feel like you need to take immediate action or you might spontaneously combust? Yeah, scrub some tile til it shines like the top of the Chrysler building.
4. Learn this Justin Bieber dance
I realize you think I'm joking. I sincerely am not. My roommates and I once spent a snowy morning doing our top-notch best to recreate this dance from start to finish. We...basically nailed it. And we felt awesome.
5. Read a book
Playlist: the 1994 Little Women movie soundtrack
Make yourself a cup of tea and snuggle in your armchair. You have two reading options: recreational, or educational. Either will work.
Educational: Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis), The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness (Tim Keller), The Ragamuffin Gospel (Brennan Manning), any biography or autobiography under the sun (I like Fred Astaire's and also Julie Andrews')
Recreational: Little Women (Louisa May Alcott), Cold Tangerines (Shauna Niequist), Death by Living (N.D. Wilson), My Life in Paris (Julia Child), Harry Potter in its entirety (J.K. Rowling)
6. Talk about it
Playlist: the soothing sound of someone saying "I hear ya."
For the LOVE OF PETE, get whatever is bugging you off the hamster wheel in your head by talking out what's going on. I am an over sharer, so I say this with great caution, but sometimes you really do just need to talk stuff out. (While I personally appreciate talking to a real human, I think journaling falls in this category and can be equally helpful.) Call your mom, or your sister, or anyone that will let you sound a little crazy (a very real possibility) and still like you afterwards.
7. Breathe deeply
Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. Slowly. Maybe with your eyes closed. Maybe in some super zen position, if you're here for that kind of thing. My friend Brittney knows some yoga poses, I'm sure she would hook you up. Or just do it while you're driving down the street. Really any time. Breathing is a wildly underrated calm down technique.
The thing is, whatever is freaking you out is not actually the end of the world (barring, of course, the end of the world occurring at this moment). I say this as someone who tends to feel like her world is ending a lot. But it isn't. And this freak out is, more than likely, an emotional reaction that will start to dissipate in a few hours (says me, who has strong emotional reactions that tend to dissipate after a few hours.)
Chill out. Give your mind and body something else to focus on, and remember: you're gonna be okay.