Self-Care for Anxiety
It seems rare that someone doesn’t suffer from some form of anxiety right now. I notice it especially in New York City, where the collective energy can quickly make your stomach turn to knots and your heart beat faster. There are lots of conventional ways we can deal with this, like seeing a therapist and taking medication if necessary — and those are great tools that should be used. For me personally, I’m always looking to go deeper to the root of these feelings and find ways to manage them in a way that’s preventative.
That’s where the self-care comes in. I notice when I truly attend to my needs — the basic physical ones and the murkier emotional ones — I’m less likely to feel that pounding of anxiety on a regular basis. Here are some tools that I’ve used that have helped me manage and thrive with anxiety.
I know, I know, you’re sick of being told to meditate. I get it. But damn, does it help. And there’s a lot of good research to back it up. Start easy and see where it takes you.
Sometimes a quiet 10 minute meditation seems impossible when you’re spiraling out about something. In those instances, I commit to just three deep breaths with the longest exhale I can muster.
I also like to fo the 4-7-8 breath: Start by breathing in for 4 counts, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. This slows down your heart rate, which calms the body while giving the mind something to focus on. This also helps with sleep!
Create your own herbal remedy
Explore different types of herbs, flowers, and roots that bring calming, anti-inflammatory benefits to the table. Give one or two a try and see how you feel.
Some to try:
- Lavender (also great as an essential oil)
- CBD oil
- Reishi Mushroom
Combos I love:
- Cacao + Reishi Mushroom + Coconut Milk + Honey = Chill Hot Chocolate
- Chamomile + Lavender + Damiana = Cozy Evening Tea
- CBD oil + Cacao + Banana + Dates + Cashews + Water = CBD Smoothie
- Turmeric + Mucuna + Ashwagandha + Cinnamon + Almond Milk + Maple Syrup = Feel Good Golden Latte
Do a tarot spread about it
Try a simple 3-card pull like:
1. What’s the situation? | 2. What am I not seeing here? | 3. What’s my hidden strength that will help me here?*
1. What’s my reality right now? | 2. What tools do I have at my disposal? | 3. How can I move through this energy?*
*Based on the teachings of Lindsay Mack
OR make up your own.
Journal what the cards are communicating to you, what this brings up, and what you can focus on going forward.
Make a Joy List
Make a list of all the things that make you really freaking happy. It can be anything from your morning cup of coffee to buying crystals to watching British crime procedurals (just me?).
Make an Anxiety List
While this may seem counter-intuitive, I’ve found it can really help me see how ridiculous/not real some of my anxieties are and help you flesh out why you’re feeling what you’re feeling.
The idea for this came from my tarot teacher around the 9 of Swords card. It’s essentially saying all your anxieties are in your mind — you’re future tripping and these are not real problems that you actually have to deal with. Like the person who just emerged from their nightmare in the card, they’re upset about it of course, but it’s not reality. I find that really comforting. Part of the medicine around this card is to make a list of all your anxieties. Then create a case against them.
Make a playlist
Music can alter our moods significantly. Pick happy, want-to-dance, bangers or just music that makes you want to walk around in the sunshine. It doesn’t matter how cheesy or random the songs are, this is just for you — no music snobbery!
Seriously, just go. And if you can get to water, do that. If you can jump into that water, even better.
Move your body
Like music, movement is a powerful and accessible tool for changing your mood and and literally moving energy through your body. Walk, bust out the yoga mat, run, dance, lift some weights, whatever feels right in the moment.
Sweat it out
You don’t have go to a spin class for this either. Consider a sauna, infrared sauna, or a really hot bath. Moving and sweating can go hand-in-hand but they don’t have to. And they both serve the same purpose of moving some of that frenetic energy to the surface and out of our bod.
Eat & Drink Water
Try to think of the simple ways your body needs support. Baseline: Get enough water (aim for 2 liters or more) — our brains need to be well hydrated to function properly. Feed yourself well balanced meals and snacks (fat, protein, fiber, carbs) at regular times. And before you caffeinate, eat something.
Put together your toolkit
Refer to your joy list or any of the above to see if there are some easy, cheap, and accessible things you can do in the moment. Stuff like breathing, moving, and drinking water are great go-to’s. Then move on to stuff like tv shows, books, and podcasts — I love things that make me laugh, occasionally cry, and feel magical. Also favorite dishes like chili, soups, curries, and homemade treats are all great for your toolkit. Refer to your toolkit when you’re spiraling and choose one thing to place your attention on.
Thank you for your website Leah, it’s beautiful and I look forward to your newsletter! Have you tried Abhyanga self oil massage? I’ve been thinking exploring Ayurveda and have found it to be soothing and grounding. Very helpful to reduce anxiety and be relaxed all day I’d done in the morning. And sleep like a rock if done at night!
Thanks so much Kim! That's such good advice. I've been reading a lot about it with my pregnancy but have yet to try it. I love getting recommendations for stuff like this though — it actually encourages me to try it!