Self-Care to Lower Anxiety
In today’s world, self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Although we may not be able to control what is happening outside of us, we can take steps each day to stay grounded and connected to our center.
If you are looking for some at-home self-care practices to help you lower anxiety, alleviate stress, and feel calmer on a day-to-day basis, you’ve come to the right place. The practices below will help to anchor you in the present moment, quiet your fears, and calm a spiraling mind. Implement these practices on a regular basis to see lasting effects in your life.
However, with this being said, if you are currently experiencing heightened anxiety or feel hopeless and overwhelmed, please seek the help of a mental health professional. Together, the two of you can work together to determine the next best steps for treatment.
8 Ways to Calm Anxiety with Self-Care
- Connect to breath. First and foremost, when a surge of anxiety hits, take a timeout and breathe. Deep breaths in our bodies signal to our minds that we are safe, lessening the stress “fight or flight” hormone called cortisol which increases heart rate and raises blood pressure. Silence your phone, sit or lie down, and take ten long, deep breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth. In through the nose, out through the mouth.
- Move your body. Whenever you are feeling anxious, try going for a brisk 20-minute walk or turning on music and dancing around the house. Exercise calms us down and boosts our mood, making it a double whammy for combating anxiety. The key? Making it a consistent routine. Aim for at least three to four 20-minute movements sessions per week and build from there.
- Feed yourself well. What we eat has a dramatic effect on how we feel. Emphasize whole, minimally processed foods, including fresh fruits and berries, starchy vegetables and leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and legumes, whole grains, and high-quality animal proteins. Eat to fuel yourself and pay attention to the way you feel after meals. Steer clear of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and highly processed foods, all of which can increase anxiety and contribute to emotional highs and lows.
- Spend time in nature. Nature is a natural antidote for anxiety. The sound of flowing water, the colors of a sunset, and the busy hum of bees and insects are all things that calm our nervous system and consequently increase our mental health and well-being. Make it a point to spend as much time in nature as possible, away from traffic, cell phone notifications, financial stress, and emails, all of which can induce feelings of heightened anxiety.
- Focus on sleep. Sleep is one of the key building blocks to health and happiness and adults need at least eight hours of high-quality sleep per night. Unfortunately, most of us are not getting anywhere close to that amount. A few ways to encourage healthy sleep are 1) develop a nighttime routine, 2) turn off screens at least one hour before bed, 3) keep electronics and other stressors out of the bedroom, and 4) turn the temperature in your bedroom down at night.
- Try journaling. Longhand freewriting is a great way to process thoughts and fears that are creating anxiety. Experiment with taking time in the morning to journal before the start of the day. If there is a particular situation, person, or event that is causing anxiety, try writing about it to sort through what you are feeling. Oftentimes we don’t know the root cause of something until we look at it from many angles.
- Develop a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is simply the practice of returning to the present moment and observing what is taking place without judgment. Because anxiety occurs when we worry about the future and mindfulness anchors us in the present moment, it is a great practice for lowering anxiety. Morning meditation, gratitude, and breathwork are all great ways to develop a mindfulness practice. If you need help getting started, a quick internet search will give you more YouTube videos, podcasts, and books on mindfulness and mediation than you will know what to do with.
- Let laughter be thy medicine. Laughter is one of the most useful yet underrated natural anxiety treatments that exist. If you are able, take a step back from your life from time to time to observe everything that is happening. Then, allow yourself to laugh about it all. Laughter can actually trigger physical and emotional changes within the body, so laugh at yourself, laugh with yourself, laugh with a friend, laugh with a pet, laugh alone. Laugh as much as possible to give yourself a natural relief from anxiety.