Seven Places That Calm My Anxiety

When I was first diagnosed with agoraphobia and panic attacks, I learned that agoraphobia literally means fear of the marketplace. That described me perfectly. My worst places to be were the grocery store and the mall.

When I have a panic attack, I get a strong, uncontrollable urge to leave the place I’m at. I feel more at ease when there is easy access to an exit. Big box warehouse stores with no windows and one door are challenging.

Medication has helped get me through the day without the constant fear of panic. I’m grateful that now I’m comfortable going anywhere — even the grocery store.

These places help me feel safe and relaxed:

  1. The Beach: My senses are both awakened and at peace here. I’m mesmerized as I watch the waves form, crash, and roll to the shore. Warm sand massages my feet, and cold water makes me feel alive. It’s as if I’m on vacation, with the sounds of seagulls and the smell of salty air. The beauty and serenity make this a spiritual place. I daydream about all that is possible.
  2. The Mountains: This is where life slows down. I take deep breaths and notice how quiet it is. Birds chirp and trees rustle in the breeze. Gravel crunches underneath my feet. It’s therapeutic to be with nature, and Just Be.
  3. Library or Book Store: Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved the smell of books! It’s quiet here, and a much-needed break from the busy world outside. I get a stack of magazines and best sellers to browse, find a comfy chair, and settle in. I focus on what I’m reading, and nearly forget I’m with other people.  
  4. Movie Theater: The thought of sitting in a cool, dark theater for a couple of hours is pure bliss. It’s an escape, where I can observe, and not participate. For many people with anxiety, being in a theater can be difficult. I don’t like to sit in the middle of a row, in the center of the theater. I prefer to be toward the back, near the end of the row. I munch on popcorn, let my mind wander, and get lost in the show.
  5. Coffee Shop: I walk in and take a deep breath. The smell of coffee instantly relaxes me. It’s cozy and inviting. I can easily spend an hour or two here, sipping on a hot latte or an iced coffee, chatting with a friend. But because caffeine makes me jittery and anxious, I order decaf. And no double shots of espresso! 
  6. Garden Center/Plant Nursery: I enjoy gardening, and thrive on the immediate gratification I get from planting flowers, weeding, and growing vegetables. A nursery is a serene escape. I browse every aisle, deciding what to buy. I revel in the slow pace and am rejuvenated by the hope of making my garden more beautiful.
  7. Church: I feel surrounded by love here. This time is dedicated to prayer and enriching my faith, away from the hustle of my regular routine. It used to be hard for me to attend Mass because I was afraid of having a panic attack. That fear has  subsided, but I still prefer to sit near the end of the pew. When the service is over, I feel good that I made it through and didn’t let my anxiety stop me from worshiping. Another reason to be thankful!

The common thread to my favorite places is that they encourage me to be calm and mindful. I use all of my senses to fully immerse myself into the peace and relaxation that they offer.

 

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45 thoughts on “Seven Places That Calm My Anxiety

  1. I feel relaxed just reading this. My places would include a spot right here in the cafe, with my laptop, a cool drink and earbuds; the disc golf course; and the soccer sideline, away from parents, and with just my kids’ team. I love that you’ve identified so many places that you can find this calm.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m so happy to hear how you’ve overcome this debilitating illness, for most. Enjoy life! Sorry, it took me so long to get over here. I’ve not been on WP since my friend died. I’ve been really struggling with writing since she passed away. I posted something today, but it’s not very good………..it’s something….it’s a start……………..maybe I can get back into it. It’s really been difficult. Words just can’t express. I look forward to following your amazing blog. Hope you’re having a great day. Peace out! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sometimes, the mall relaxes me. Weird…but it’s because even though there are lots of people, I don’t KNOW them. So, I’m alone…but not lonely. I can be as engaged (or not) as I want. I can make small talk…or not. There is ZERO pressure.

    Whatever works, right? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, you’re right, whatever works! The mall is ok with me now, especially if it’s not too crowded. That’s a good point, that you can be as engaged with others as you want, which helps ease the pressure. I feel most comfortable at the mall if I’m with my husband or daughters. My ‘safe’ people 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful reflection, Jenny! As I was reading along, I was surprised by the number of times I found myself thinking, “Hey, me too!” I don’t have agoraphobia, but I do have situational anxiety, and boy did grocery shopping FREAK me out for the longest time! The logistics and planning that went into a grocery store trip would make you think I was plotting to take the beaches of Normandy. Whenever I felt my most anxious and alone, my safe places were coffee shops and movie theaters. There, I could be around people in a safe environment, removed from my house (a place a might binge), and for a few hours, I could feel secure that I wouldn’t engage my eating disorder.

    After lots of therapy, my feelings and reactions to these places are a lot different. I’m glad that I can feel comfortable in the grocery store again, and I don’t need to have “safe places” to protect myself from my ED, but I do still love to relax in coffee shops. 😊

    Also, I love your honest reflection about how you feel in church. I used to be SO anxious in church, and feel very guilty about it, because I told myself I shouldn’t feel that way. Again, practice and therapy helped a lot, and I almost don’t remember when it was a struggle to make it through a service.

    I’m so glad that you have these relaxing places where you find comfort! And what a wonderful testament to the progress you’ve made. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Lulu! I really enjoyed reading your comment, and we’ve had a lot in common in regards to places we have a challenging time at, and places we love. Sounds like you have come such a long way in your recovery, which is fabulous, I’m really happy for you! I used to feel guilty about not going to church. I’d never say it out loud, but if I wasn’t feeling quite right (anxiety), I’d gladly go along with other excuses not to go. Now it feels peaceful again to me. But I still don’t like to be in the middle of a row. Hope you have a peaceful weekend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The beach is a favorite place of mine. Since I’m currently in a land locked state, my garden is my favorite place to be. 🙂 I’m glad you have found some places that soothe your soul. Be well and enjoy your weekend. Koko:)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Meet & Greet – Summer Traditions Style | A Texan's View of Upstate New York

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