At this point, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, with more than 40 million diagnosed patients in the country. Researchers are studying and developing more and more ways to fight this serious, sometimes debilitating problem, but there are some helpful, rewarding ways to cope.

Anxiety is a prevalent issue around the globe, but here are some techniques to live with it while trying to find the right treatment plan. While nothing replaces the need for doctor’s visits and potential counseling, there are ways to redirect your focus.

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The good ole olfactory nerves

Find a smell that calms you. This sounded strange when I was first told to do this, but I bought my fiancé’s cologne and sprayed some on a sweatshirt and it was extremely effective. I wish I’d known about this concept earlier. For the same reason certain smells trigger anxiety attacks, others can treat them. If you do not have a close friend with whom you can attach a specific smell, try essential oils. Eucalyptus and Lavender are both scientifically proven to relieve stress.

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Bite the bullet and bullet journal

If you haven’t heard of it, bullet journaling is the trend in which you use a blank or dotted notebook to draw your own calendars, weekly planners, to-do lists, or notes you want to remember. This isn’t everyone’s idea of relaxing, but it’s worth a shot--especially if the source of your anxiety is related to work, event planning, and tight schedules. I like to use stickers, stencils, rulers, and calligraphy markers to add more differences and craft to it. I had a hard time jumping into the detailed, adult coloring book trend, but this is really constructive for me.

Any dog can be an emotional support dog

I am a dog person, but cats are helpful too. If you don’t have a dog that you can pamper, take to the park, take for a walk, or train to do new tricks, visit your local animal shelter. When I was away at college, I visited the local animal shelter. They allow registered visitors to “check a dog out” for the day. I loved giving them baths, taking them for walks, and giving them a breath of fresh air when they’re waiting for a new home.

I know everyone can’t adopt a dog, but even borrowing a friend’s or volunteering can offer a good distraction or a comforting hug. Taking care of something or someone in need in general (babies, your mom, a neighbor) can be a wonderful way to re-center yourself.

Tr(eat) your feelings

I’m a terrible chef, but baking is a great alternative when art is not your medium. Even if you don’t have the appetite to eat what you make, giving it to someone else will certainly make their day!

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Bonus: Try making your own granola bars, treats for your pets, or something tasty that’s vegan just for the thrill of the challenge.

Become a plant mom

If you have the luxury of living somewhere warm, try your hand at gardening. It’s a combination of all the other four ideas. You’ll create something yourself, take care of it, you can either cook with it, smell it, give it away, or decorate with it.

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“It” can be flowers, plants, fruits, or veggies.

While the rate at which anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses are diagnosed is frustrating, researchers are combatting it with plenty of new treatment plans and support systems. Hang in there! Share ways that you deal with it. Anxiety is more than just being stressed, but ways to overcome it in the everyday places it attempts to deflate does not need to be complicated or expensive. Self-care is about knowing how you are soothed--smells, activities, arts, and sometimes just distractions.

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