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Many Americans love the Fourth of July and the chaos it brings. Barbecues, pool parties, and day drinking, for many, fits the criteria for a perfect summer holiday. Others seek solace during the hectic festivities.
While it’s great to celebrate patriotic freedom, the Fourth of July might also be triggering for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other anxiety disorders.
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No matter where you are in the country (and what local regulations suggest), you’re likely to encounter unexpected fireworks and giant crowds of people. Depending on your personal comfort level, it may be worth bunking down at home for a cozy holiday indoors. In other situations, you may want to participate in the festivities at a level that fits in your personal mental threshold.
It may seem impossible to have a Fourth of July without the triggers of loud noises, unexpected scares, screaming people, and overstimulation, but here are some of our favorite tips and products to help you make it through this sometimes stressful holiday by creating a perfect safe space.
One of the most important tactics for reducing anxiety is having control over your environment. Loud, unexpected noises from neighbors may pull you out of your safe space and into inner turmoil. One of my favorite ways to ensure I’m able to maintain a comfortable mindset is by using noise-canceling headphones to control how much I’m actually hearing.
I’ve tried many brands of headphones to help regulate my stress responses related to PTSD. After years with different types, I’ve settled on Beats Studio3 as my favorite pair. That’s because the headphone cushions surround my ears in such a way that no external noise finds its way through the noise-canceling mode.
Beats also offer superb music quality, so if you like to drown out the world with songs, or TikTok videos (like I do), you’ll be fully immersed in whatever soundscape you choose with little noise pollution from those around you.
Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones retail at $349.99 through Beats. You’ll likely find deals on Best Buy and at other retailers, bringing the cost down significantly.
If you’re in the market for something a little more luxurious, we also loved the Sony WH-1000XM5s and WF-1000XM4 earbuds. You can learn more about those via our updated list of the 12 best noise-cancelling headphones.
Poppi prebiotic soda
Maybe you want to take part in the Fourth of July celebrations but don’t want to engage in alcohol consumption. It’s well known that alcohol can make anxiety symptoms worse, especially in a particularly triggering environment. And those with anxiety also know an upset stomach is sometimes part of the ordeal.
Poppi Prebiotic sodas are made to mimic your favorite treats without the sugar, caffeine, or chemicals of a normal soda. While the brand makes a selection of delicious, fruity flavors (which you should absolutely try), its strongest category is soda knockoffs that put gut health at the forefront. Dr. Pop, Classic Cola, and Root Beer taste almost identical to competitors, but you won’t be left with a sugar crash. Instead, you’ll be actively assisting the bacteria in your stomach that keeps you feeling good, even in stress-inducing scenarios. A 12-pack retails for $29.99 on Amazon.
Mindfulness is a great tool for calming uncomfortable sensations. The truth, however, is that it doesn’t work for everyone. Meditation isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution because, especially for people with trauma, sitting still can be very hard (and triggering).
Calm is my personal choice for a mindfulness app because it has multiple focal areas beyond meditation. On the app, you can choose to listen to soothing soundscapes, or even indulge in sleep stories that might help you relax and slip into the security of a fictional safe space. There’s even one story narrated by Harry Styles… so how could you go wrong?
Calm offers some free features, but, to get the most out of the package, you’ll need a subscription. Plans are currently priced at $14.99 per month or $69.99 per year. There’s also a lifetime option for $499.99 if you’re feeling particularly committed.
There’s one surefire way to bring yourself out of a state of panic: eating something sour. This old wives’ tale in the mental health community has been successful for me many times before. When you start to feel anxiety rise (especially in the case of a sudden panic attack), pop a few Sour Patch Kids in your mouth for an immediate distraction. Not only will your attention shift toward the sweets, but your nervous system will be silenced in response.
You could also opt for a specialized candy specifically designed to combat anxiety. Bach Rescue Pastilles (which retail as low as $7) are beloved by some mental health advocates for providing quick relief without the use of psychiatric drugs. Others may love the pastilles for a placebo response, which connects the taste to a sense of calm. Regardless of how they work for you, Rescue Pastilles are a good addition to your emergency bag.
Ask for what you need
While not directly tied to a product, this may be the most important piece of advice on this list. If you’re going to be at an event with friends or family, communicate your boundaries and expectations ahead of time. If you find yourself in a situation that triggers your anxiety or trauma, don’t ever be afraid to step away from troublesome stimuli. An escape plan, and early communication with your support system, can help you find comfort in testing the limits of your comfort zone, or in retreating back into it.
Not everyone understands how stressful mental health concerns can be, and it’s not unusual to fear explaining your anxieties to others. Give yourself permission to put yourself first, and to take whatever liberties you need to stay comfortable. If that means canceling plans to stay home, leaving the gathering early or making any necessary adjustments to your routine, so be it. You’re doing amazing, and I hope these tips help you get through another noisy holiday in a way that’s both stress-free and fun.
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