June 23, 2020
Self-Care and the Anti-Anxious Connection
Most people in their lifetime will experience some form of anxiousness, most driven by situational factors. For many people, implementing some simple self-care routines can aide in reducing anxiousness and serve as a way to build up a healthy response to anxiousness that reduce those uncomfortable feelings over time.
It may sound simple, but your mind and body are connected in powerful ways and by maintaining your physical, emotional, and mental reserves, you can actually mitigate and manage some anxiousness and its symptoms. If you are honest with yourself, you can probably admit that when you get busy and are juggling multiple priorities, one of the first things to get dismissed from the “To Do List” is taking care of yourself. Self-care feels like one more thing on your plate and always gets pushed further down the list. Making time for small acts of self-care throughout the day will keep you more mentally balanced and energized – so you can tackle all those other “more important” tasks!
Try incorporating some of these simple tips into your everyday life and you will be presently surprised how much better you will feel!
- Stop saying “yes” so much. Your mind and body need down time to relax and restore your energy. When you say yes to every invitation or request you are adding more and more responsibilities and tasks to your “To Do List”. Before agreeing, take a few minutes to determine if the benefits of accepting this invitation are worth the potential stress and anxiousness it may cause. It’s OK to decline an invite to spend some quiet, relaxing time at home.
- Take time for reflection and gratitude. When you are dealing with anxiousness, you tend to only focus on the things that are causing you stress and worry – you can often forget about the positives of your day. Take a few minutes during your day to write down your thoughts. Each morning write down 10 things you are grateful for, positive things in your life. Focusing on what you have versus what you do not have has an amazing way to shift your mindset and reduce stress.
- Exercise regularly. Thinking of exercise as a gift versus a chore is the secret to making it a daily habit. Taking time each day for regular exercise that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat can help you reduce the mental and physical impact of anxiousness. When you work out, your body releases endorphins which make you feel happier and can have a calming effect. Yoga is also a common way to cope with anxiousness which combines physical movement, stretching, and meditation.
- Get outside. The sun emits Vitamin D which is an essential vitamin our body craves to feel better and more balanced. Nature is often said to have healing properties and spending some time outside can help ease a bad mood or calm anxious feelings. Whether you prefer the beach or the woods, spending some time in the sun can have some a very positive impact on your mood.
- Meditate. Meditation and intentional breathing exercises can be a great way to stimulate your relaxation response. There are numerous mobile apps and online videos that can teach you how to strategically calm your body and mind while reducing mental anxiousness.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Getting a good night’s sleep can be hard for people who suffer from anxiousness, so it’s vitally important to make sure you follow a sleep routine. This can include having a consistent sleep/wake cycle, hydrating before bed, and reducing any outside hindrances (turning off the TV, closing your blinds/curtains, and putting your phone on silent). You want to give your brain time to wind down before bed so limit caffeine, alcohol, and detailed work several hours before you plan to go to bed.
We all tend to put others first and our own needs last, however taking care of yourself is vital for your well-being and health. Self-care is far from selfish and self-indulgent. If you don't care for yourself properly, your body and mind will suffer making it more vulnerable to a weakened immune system, making us more susceptible to weight gain, colds, sleep issues, high blood pressure, cardiac issues and more. Take care of yourself!
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
- Magar, Dan MSW, “What You Need to Know About Stress and Self-Care”, Psychology Today, 29 August 2017, accessed 11 June 2020, < https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/some-assembly-required/201708/what-you-need-know-about-stress-and-self-care>
- “De-Stress”, Amherst College, 2020, accessed 11 June 2020, <https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/health-safety-wellness/counseling/wellness/self-care-and-stress-reduction/de-stress>