101 Self-Care Solutions for Anxiety

Over the years I have accumulated at least 101 solutions for anxiety. Some have worked better than others. I am a firm believer in the personalized approach to health and wellbeing.  This means we need choices.  Safe choices.  And we need to be open to trying on different options and seeing what works for us.  Over time, I hope to share all the 101 options that have helped to tame my anxiety.  But for now, I’ll start with five easy options.  Think of each as an invitation. Even if you don’t feel anxious, these practices can create an overall sense of wellbeing and mind-body balance. If your anxiety is other than occasional and mild, think of these practices as something you do in tandem with therapy, medication, or other treatments recommended by your healthcare team.

Practice 1:  Meditate with your eyes open!

Closing your eyes to meditate when you are anxious can make the mind feel like a scary, unwelcoming place, creating more anxiety.  Last year, I re-listened to Pema Chodron’s “How to Meditate” and she reminded me of the value of keeping the eyes open to what she calls “stabilize the mind”.  Start with 5 to 10 minutes of gazing 4 to 6 feet ahead of you, sitting in a comfortable meditation position, and focus your thoughts on the in-breath followed by the out-breath. When your mind wanders, notice it and without judgement, just bring your attention back to the breath, the object of your meditation.  Have patience with yourself and compare how you feel after the open-eye meditation with how you felt before.

Practice 2:  The 5….8 breath

This is a cadence that has worked wonders for me:  a slow, steady, inbreath for the count of 5 followed by a slow steady outbreath for the count of 8.  I focus on the breath coming into and out of the body at the abdomen. The abdomen rises on the inbreath for a slow count of 5 and relaxes on the outbreath for a slow count of 8.  Repeat this for 20 minutes. I do this each day, lying down with my eyes closed, and find it to be particularly calming and rejuvenating.  Like the meditation instructions in #1, I try to focus on the breath and when my mind wanders, come back to the breath.  5 and 8 may not be the right cadence for you.  If it’s a practice you’re curious about, but 5….8 doesn’t feel quite right, adjust it until it works for you.  One caveat. Keep the count of the outbreath higher than the inbreath.  It turns out that the heart rate and nervous system slow down more on the outbreath, so extending the outbreath longer than the inbreath alone can make a big difference in inducing a sense of calm.

Practice 3:  The 5…8 breath with a weighted blanket

Weighted blankets can create a physically calm environment alone.  Using a weighted blanket while engaging in the 5…8 breath creates calm from both your internal and external environments.  If you don’t have a weighted blanket, try a down jacket or even a few layers of blankets.

Practice 4: Create your own mantra

Mantras clear a path for tranquility to enter the mind. Repeating and focusing on the mantra allows tranquility to linger.  A few phrases that have worked for me that you can start with until you’ve created your own are: “calmness is the cure”, “mellowness is my medicine”, and “relaxation equals recuperation”.  I have found the repeated use of the same letter sound in a mantra soothes my nervous system. See what works for you.

Practice 5:  Steep chamomile tea for 12 hours

In November, I spoke at the Integrative Medicine for the Underserved (IM4US) annual conference. While there, I heard a lecture by Dr. Emiliano Lemus, a physician who specializes in Energetic Herbalism, Sex Positivity and Gender Affirming Care. Most of us know the calming effect of chamomile tea.  However, Dr Lemus shared that the most effective approach is to steep the tea for 12 hours before drinking!  I now steep my chamomile tea for 12 hours in the fridge and enjoy it throughout the next day.  I have found this to be both calming and tasty!

In the text above, you’ve got five invitations to solutions for self-care that address anxiety and stress.  Try on what seems interesting. Keep what works. Let go of the rest.

The Self-Care Solutions newsletter allows you to personalize your approach to health and wellbeing.  It offers you choices.  Safe choices.  Evidence-based choices. The articles allow you to try on different options and see what works for you. Think of each as an invitation. While not a substitute for care by your medical team, we’re here to support you in your quest for wellbeing!

Meditation for anxiety references  

Weighted blankets for anxiety reference

Breathwork for anxiety reference

Chamomile for anxiety reference

 

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Dr. Ruthann Russo

I love assisting people on their hero’s journey towards self-transformation. A passion which is born comes partly from personal experience – I view my own life as a series of self-transformations. I have 20+ years of education, training and experience, including being the CEO and founder of two health technology start-ups and global wellness consultant to Fortune 100 corporations.

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