Having anxiety can be hard. In fact, it can be a real drag! And those who experience it will be fully aware of why it’s so important to have a few go-to items to ease the strain.

For some, it’s a mindfulness app. For others, it’s a yoga retreat. Here are the 10 things that I myself need to help me manage and relieve my social anxiety when it hits.

1. A first aid kit

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I don’t mean gauze and iodine. Your personal first aid kit should be filled with items that give you comfort when you need it. Mine, for example, is stocked with a luxurious bubble bath, nail varnish, wine, a face mask, and a good book. You can use this kit when you’re really struggling and need a box of things that will help ease your anxiety. Treat it like something special. Just knowing that the kit is always there whenever you need it may also bring you added comfort.

2. Good quality pajamas

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This may sound basic, but never underestimate the comfort that high-quality pajamas can bring. Rather than sleeping in a worn-out T-shirt that’s seen better days, invest in a lovely silk or fleece-lined matching two-piece. Get something you can really snuggle up in. Think of them like the fabric equivalent of a hug. You don’t have to break the bank but also don’t skimp. For warmer climates, silk camisoles are great. I’m also a big fan of slippers, so if you really want to go the whole hog, treat your feet to a hug, too.  

3. A therapist

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As much as venting to family and friends can feel helpful, there’s often no substitute for a qualified professional. They can analyze your issues and suggest tools and techniques to combat them.

4. The medication that’s right for you

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Always go see your doctor if you suspect you have an anxiety condition. SSRIs are one of the most commonly prescribed medications for social anxiety, but there are a variety of others depending on your symptoms. There are also herbal and vitamin alternatives for people who don’t wish to try long-term prescription drugs.

5. Distraction techniques

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Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, the brain will just not shut down. Those pesky, irrational, buzzing thoughts continue to taunt us. It’s good to have some items available to distract us. This can be anything: a game app on your phone, an adult coloring book, or sitting down to a game of cards with a friend. Find something that works for you!

6. A mini-vacation

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Sure, a vacation can sound like a huge expense. But think about it. How much money do we throw away every week on coffee, alcohol, and other stuff we don’t really need? Investing in a weekend away to recharge is a valid treat for yourself. This can be a spa, golfing weekend, or even just a city break. Leave your phone in the hotel room and unwind for a few days. Your body and brain will thank you for it.

7. Essential oils and candles

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I’m personally a huge fan of scents. I believe they can have a direct effect on mood. Essential oils like lavender and rose have been known to have relaxing benefits. Invest in some decent candles or oils, not the stuff you find in supermarkets which loses its smell after five minutes.

8. A notebook

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If you have anxiety, then repetitive, irrational thoughts can be a real issue. A great way to expel them is to simply write them down. Buy a journal or notebook and write in it a few times a week or whenever you feel the need to. Don’t worry about the structure. It’s for your eyes only. Write whatever you want. This practice can be very liberating.

9. A gym membership

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There’s strong evidence to suggest that exercise can be effective when it comes to helping manage your mental health. Physical activity produces endorphins which act as natural stress relievers. They can even help improve sleep. As a lazy cow who had no desire to ever set foot in a gym, I reeeeeeeally didn’t want this to be true. However, cardio keeps my adrenaline levels down and genuinely makes me feel better. Always be sure to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise regime.

10. A good self-help book

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Education is key when it comes to managing your mental health. Understanding your condition is the foundation to recovery. A good self-help book can also offer personal insights and techniques that might be helpful. Some books I recommend are, well, my own, as well as “The Anxiety Solution” by Chloe Brotheridge and “Panic Attacks Workbook” by David Carbonell, PhD.

Arm yourself with the right tools. The fight against anxiety will be that much easier.

Claire Eastham is a blogger and the best-selling author of “We’re All Mad Here.” You can connect with her on her website or tweet her @ClaireyLove.

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