Self-care is a vital tool for managing stress and anxiety. It can help you stay healthy and resilient so that you’re better able to cope with stressors in the future.
According to GS Movement, it’s important to know that self-care can also be a distraction from tackling underlying anxiety symptoms. That’s why it’s important to combine it with specific anxiety-fighting tactics taught by a professional.
Whether it’s a walk, a game of tennis or a yoga class, regular exercise can help you manage your stress and anxiety. It can also make you feel good physically and mentally, boosting your self-esteem, reducing fatigue and improving sleep quality.
The effects of exercise can be immediate and long-lasting. One study found that people who got regular vigorous exercise were 25 percent less likely to experience depression or anxiety over the next five years than sedentary people.
This is because physical activity reduces the release of cortisol and adrenaline in levels that are often triggered by stress. This means that you’re more likely to feel calm, focused and ready to take on a new task when you get active.
If you have a hard time getting to the gym, try doing some gentle yoga or walking around your neighborhood. This is an easy, stress-reducing activity that you can do anytime of the day.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that regulate your mood, improve your sleep and promote relaxation. You may also find that exercising with others helps you relax and reduces your feelings of isolation.
You can start out slowly and build up your intensity as your body adjusts to the new activity. You might want to begin with just a few short sessions of aerobic exercise each week.
A word of caution, however: If you have any health problems or conditions, such as obesity, high blood pressure, or diabetes, talk to your doctor before you start any sort of intense activity.
The important thing is to keep your exercise sessions to 30 minutes or less each day, five days a week. This is the American Heart Association’s recommendation for healthy people who aren’t overweight.
2. Eat Well
Eating well can make a difference in the way you feel on a daily basis, which has an impact on your mental and emotional health, social support system, stress levels, and self-esteem. It also plays a key role in managing your weight and helping you to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The nutrients in certain foods, such as omega-3 found in fish, help to naturally decrease anxiety. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E, in particular, are also beneficial. In addition, consuming more fruit and vegetables can significantly improve your mood.
Another important component in managing your mental and emotional health is making sure you get enough physical exercise. Getting regular exercise can reduce the amount of cortisol in your body which helps to relieve stress and anxiety. Besides, it is also known to boost your energy level and provide your body with natural feel-good hormones that are helpful in keeping you calm and relaxed.
One of the easiest ways to implement self-care strategies is through a regular diet that is nutritious and full of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. It is important to choose nutritious foods that are free of processed or unhealthy ingredients, and limit your consumption of fast food, junk food, and alcohol.
Herbal teas, such as chamomile, lavender, peppermint and lemon balm, are great for relieving anxiety symptoms. They can also improve sleep quality and ease digestive issues, if you are prone to them.
Adding more herbal teas to your diet is a self-care strategy that will benefit your overall mental and physical health in the long run. Just be sure to try different varieties until you find the right one for you.
3. Take a Bath
Taking a bath is one of the most relaxing ways to reduce stress and anxiety, and it can be particularly helpful for Highly Sensitive People. In fact, one study found that taking a hot bath can be as effective as meditation for reducing anxiety.
The best time to take a bath depends on how you’re feeling. If you’re drained, it might be helpful to opt for a lukewarm water temperature.
A warm bath has been proven to help boost the immune system and prevent colds and flu by promoting sweating, according to one study. In addition, soaking in water can reduce muscle pain and inflammation.
If you’re looking for an even more calming experience, consider adding essential oils to your tub, which can increase relaxation and promote better sleep. You can also add salts to your bathwater, which are an excellent natural detoxifier and exfoliator.
In addition, be sure to use a natural body lotion after your soak to lock in moisture. This will ensure that your skin stays soft and healthy, and will also protect it from further damage.
Once you’re finished your bath, be sure to dry off thoroughly and get dressed. This will help you to unwind and feel more ready to face the day.
A simple walk through history and across the globe will reveal that cultures from all over the world have been practicing their own unique ways of bathing for centuries. From communal nutrient-rich mineral pools to detoxifying sweat lodges and steam rooms, each method incorporates a holistic approach to wellness that caters to the mind and body.
4. Talk to a Friend
Talking to a friend or family member about your anxiety can be extremely helpful. They will be able to help you find coping mechanisms that work for you and support you in your journey of learning how to cope with anxiety.
Friends often know you best and can offer you constructive feedback that you may not get from someone who does not have your best interests at heart, says Sanam Hafeez, PsyD, a NYC-based neuropsychologist. They will also be able to point out triggers that could lead to you feeling anxious and offer calming strategies you can try before an event.
A key difference between talking to a therapist and your friends is that the therapist will be trained to see patterns that are not serving you. They will not be influenced by their own emotions or biases, Hafeez says.
When you feel overwhelmed by anxiety, it can be hard to communicate with others. Many people withdraw from conversation or even stop interacting altogether, but drawing someone out by asking them what they are thinking and feeling can be incredibly useful in letting them know that you care about them.
Another strategy is to jot down a list of things you can see, touch, hear and smell that can help you center yourself. This sensory exercise can be particularly helpful if you are struggling with anxiety, suggests Kate Mallow, manager of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline.
Finding ways to deal with stress and anxiety that don’t include medication is essential if you want to keep your mental health in tip-top condition. Practicing self-care techniques like getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods and practicing breathing exercises are good places to start. You can also make a habit of spending time with God through prayer, Church attendance or Bible study, which will strengthen your spiritual and emotional health.
5. Seek Professional Help
There are many self-care strategies for managing stress and anxiety that can be practiced by people of all ages. These strategies can be used in combination with other approaches, such as therapy or medication, to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and promote positive mental health.
If you are experiencing severe stress and anxiety, it may be important to seek professional help. Seeking help from a therapist or counselor may be the best option, as he or she can help you identify triggers and create new coping mechanisms to manage them.
A good therapist can also teach you strategies for preventing stress and anxiety before it begins by teaching you how to relax your body and mind. These techniques can include deep breathing, meditating, or other relaxation techniques that you can practice at home.
Another effective way to prevent anxiety is to get plenty of sleep. Getting enough sleep can increase your energy and improve your mood, so it’s important to get the recommended amount of sleep every night.
You should also eat a healthy diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Avoid processed foods and sugary drinks, which can have negative effects on your mental health.
Exercise is one of the most effective self-care strategies for reducing stress and anxiety, so you should make sure to get some form of exercise every day. This can include a walk outside, yoga classes, or a visit to the gym.
Creating a support network of friends and family can also be helpful in coping with stressful situations, especially if you are struggling with anxiety. Having a friend or family member to talk to when you are feeling anxious can be helpful in identifying the triggers that are causing your stress, and finding ways to deal with them.