GIFs are wonderful things. They bring us moments from our favorite TV shows and movies as well as bite-sized clips of internet animals that can flip your mood from sad to smiley in seconds. But when we say that this GIF can erase your anxiety in just moments, we're not talking about that one of Amy Schumer with a giant wine glass or the Meghan McCarthy Bridesmaids scene with all the puppies.
We're talking about this simple black and white geometric GIF from Tumblr that's simple, yet mesmerizing.
It apparently popped up on Reddit (as most Internet gems do), and anxiety sufferers have been swearing it by it for its instant calming effect. It's pretty basic: It works by slowing down your breath, according to Dr. Christina Hibbert, a clinical psychologist and author of 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise, who spoke with Mother Nature Network.
When your internal "fight or flight" switch is activated and your body is on high alert, certain slow breathing practices can help bring you back to a baseline excitement level, says Patricia Gerbarg, M.D., co-author of The Healing Power of the Breath. She also says slow breathing can activate the counter-balancing parasympathetic nervous system (which slows the heart rate, restores energy, reduces inflammation, and sends messages to your body and brain that it can relax). So go ahead and breathe with the shapes for a few seconds and feel your body respond in an amazing way. (Then try these other 3 Breathing Techniques for Dealing with Anxiety, Stress, and Low Energy.)
Anxiety is more common than you might realize—the National Institute of Mental Health reports that almost a third of Americans suffer from anxiety at some point in their lifetime. (See how this one woman used social media to shed light on how common panic attacks are too.) But even if you're not diagnosed with anxiety, keeping this GIF on hand for a little help in a stressful moment isn't such a bad idea. (And neither are these eight other calm-down-quick strategies.)
And in case those shapes just didn't do it for you, we'll just leave this here.