42 million people in the US will experience an impairment because of an anxiety condition. Looking at these statistics it is evident that we all could use some tools to relieve anxiety. There are three different factors that can make a particular activity more soothing:
Familiarity: Any memories that you may have associated with past activities or events that are pleasant can be especially helpful in feelings of soothing. A good example was one of my patients found that working on her scrape book and putting in pictures of her family very calming since it was an activity she often did with her grandmother as a young girl and it brought back happy memories.
Multi-Sensory: When we use multiple senses in an activity our brain responds positively. So pleasant activities that involve two or more of our senses(sound, touch, sight, taste and smell) are more soothing. An example of a multi-sensory activity might include walking on the beach, feeling the sand underneath your toes, smelling the ocean and hearing the surf breaking on the beach.
Repetitive motions: Studies suggest that repetitive motion, such as chewing gum, knitting, or rocking in a chair can produce serotonin in the brain. Our bodies are naturally inclined toward repetitive motion, like pacing, when we are agitated.
Here are some simple actions you can take that relate to one of the factors mentioned: checking gum, wearing familiar perfume or cologne, stretching, sucking on hard candy or sitting in the sun.