10 Mind Games to Keep your Brain Happy

As an anxiety sufferer I have a whole host of techniques, methods and mechanisms in place to help reel in my worry if it ever starts to career out of control (i.e often).  However, lots of these take time, effort and equipment- working on a project, turning off my phone and settling down with a book or baking for example.

But what happens when anxiety strikes suddenly in the middle of your day AS IS IT’S WONT. The truth is, we can’t always apply our tried and tested methods of creating time and headspace for ourselves, bc anxiety is a bad-ass bitch who doesn’t GAF if you’re in the middle of rush hour on the tube/in a meeting at work/queuing for the loo at a gig.

So, one of the things I find most useful to have in my armoury against my anxiety, is these little games I have created for myself. I can play them (mostly) anywhere, anytime and they manage to distract my brain enough to get past the rush of adrenaline which usually means I’m on the Anxiety Express- NEXT STOP PANIC ATTACK!


  1. Colour Spotting
    This one is SUPER easy and can be done anywhere. Choose a colour, and then challenge yourself to find five things that are that colour around you. I actually found myself saying ‘YES’ out loud after seeing a pair of bright pink shoelaces on someone and being able to tick off PINK for that day. (I get kind of competitive with myself).
  2. Say Something Nice About Everyone You Can See
    Pretty self explanatory. Glance around you and find something positive to say to yourself about every single person you can see- “That’s a nice jacket”, “Lovely beard”, “You look happy”, “Great book, hope you enjoy it” etc. I like to think that even though you’re saying it in your head, they will be able to feel your happy, complimentary energy on some level.
  3. Who Would I Shag On This Tube?
    Again, fairly self explanatory. If you’re feeling a bit SAUCY take a glance around you as before, and see how many people on your carriage you would shag. It makes you giggle and feel a delicious buzz of naughtiness. HOORAY! (n.b can also be applied in coffee shops, pubs, and meetings. Maybe not appropriate for family gatherings.)
  4. Mindful Walking
    So much of the time I get stuck in my head and struggle to get out of it, and so this one really helps me. Wherever you’re on the way to, stop thinking and start noticing and describing all the things you can see to yourself. Some of it will be really mundane, but I guarantee you will start to notice little things that would have completely passed you by- a pretty flower growing in an unusual place, a blue plaque on a building, the exact shade of red of a postbox, a tiny snail trying to cross a path, a fat baby giggling, the glittery bits in granite. I think as grown-ups we forget how to be curious, and this helps me re-discover my inquisitivity and wonder at the world very easily.
  5. Digital Scavenger Hunt
    Okay, so this is one that I LOVE to play on a Friday and one you need some buddies for. I recommend a good solid WhatsApp group or a couple of your gals in an email thread. At the start of the day, set a list of things that participants need to find. A sample list might look like this:
    – A picture that makes you feel warm and fuzzy
    – A guilty pleasure song
    – An interesting news article
    – A quote you find inspiring
    – A youtube video that makes you laugh
    – A historical fact that you didn’t know before
    – BONUS- A picture of a cat eating a strawberry (or other such wildcard item).Either send them to your group as and when you find them, or, for a slightly less distracting method, compile a little list and then send to the rest of the group by 4pm. It’s fun, it gives you little happy things to find even if you’re chained to your desk and you’ll suddenly have a little library of things that are interesting and joy-inducing!
  6. Categories 
    I play this in the car on road trips, but it works just as well with when I’m Billy No Mates. Think of a category, i.e Novels, Fruits, Disney Films, Things You’d Find In A Classroom etc and then work through the alphabet finding one thing in that category beginning with A, then B, then C and so on. FYI- you have my permission to use Xanadu, X-Ray and Xylophone for any X answer.
  7. Happy Lists 
    Again, this one is good to play with a buddy or two. Set yourself a challenge that by 4pm each day you’ll have made a list of 15 happy things you’ve seen or experienced that day, then swap with your pal. They can be huge, life-changing events like landing a shiny new job or they can be small, tiny things like seeing a robin or the sun shining.To take it up a notch, you could also set categories like the scavenger hunt, but things like listing:
    – A time when someone was kind to you
    – A compliment someone gave you in the last week
    – A place where you felt calm
    – A moment you felt loved
    – The last thing that made you belly-laugh
    – An object that makes you smile.
  8. Limericks 
    Pick a name and make up a short, simple limerick about that name. It’s a VERY easy structure to remember but the rhyming challenge keeps your brain busy. Here’s one I just made up in about 3 seconds about me:There once was a girl named Katie
    All her friends thought she was just Great-y.
    She wrote on her blog,

    See! EASY!

  9. Songs For The Tube 
    This is one I’ve stolen from my boyfriend but it’s so good I’m going to take the credit for it anyway. THANKS BOO. Look at the tube map and for each station, think of a song that goes with it. Some are super obvious, like ‘Waterloo Sunset’, ‘Angels’ or ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ but some require muchos thinking outside of the box- if anyone can think of a good one for Elephant & Castle (that’s better than my current choice of a ‘Nellie the Elephant/King of My Castle’ mash-up) let me know.
  10. First Five Things 
    A bit like word association. Think of a word, and then list the first five things that pop into your head. Be sure to mix up the types of words you’re using- try words from these groups for starters: countries, people you know, jobs, adjectives, feelings, verbs, weather words, animals, foods.

I would be SUPER interested to know if you try any of these and if you find them fun and/or helpful!





  1. Abigail

    April 4, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    I love this post! I’ve been battling with my anxiety recently so these would be really good for me to try!!

    Abbie | overpeachchic.com

  2. Jo F

    April 4, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    I love this so, so much and will definitely be giving them a shot asap. I’ve already asked the girls I’m friends with to try Game 5 out, and it turns out I already play number 8 on a regular basis! e.g.

    This blogger was called Katie Brennan,
    who had a quite brilliant weapon;
    She’d sing and inspire,
    And all would admire –
    It’s clear life gave her many a lemon!

    Love to you – thank you for sharing x
    Jo | Jo Fisher Writes

  3. Peter Babnik

    April 5, 2017 at 7:03 am

    These suggestions are really great. It is “positive psychology” at its best.
    Thank you for these ideas! And: “go on!”
    Bw Peter

  4. Toni

    April 5, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    This has been so funny! Although I feel guilty after reading it as I have realised the only game I had done before reading your post was ‘who would I shag on this tube?’ All my love!!

  5. Caroline Cooke

    April 7, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Just at the time I needed anxiety support! Thank you, lovely Brennan.

  6. Maria Klitgaard

    April 9, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Loved this! The first two in particular I could really see working for me. Thank you so much for this!

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