There’s no doubt about it, this year has been challenging in more ways than we can count, and the uncertainty of the next day, month or lockdown phase can naturally bring anxiety into your life.
Something I work with clients on is providing them a toolkit for when their anxiety strikes. Having a list of practises ready to sooth and calm their mind, bring them back into the present, and grounds them back into the present moment.
Social media would have you believe that you need a luxurious bath set-up, an expensive selection of oils, or even a holiday in order to practise self-care, all of which aren’t necessarily achievable in lockdown but also aren’t sustainable for yourself.
In this blog post, I wanted to share with you five sustainable self-care ideas for calming that anxiety in times of uncertainty. They are all lockdown friendly practises for your own toolkit, which won’t break the bank balance, and can be beneficial not just for yourself but also the environment around you.
Connecting with nature, whether that’s a walk around the local park, or sitting in your garden, is proven to help you reduce anxiety, and improve mood.
Being outdoors encourages you to naturally become more mindful or present. By taking in the greenery or the calm natural space around you, you’ll find that your breathing slows down, and your less focussed on what was going on in your mind.
Play your favourite feel good song and dance like nobody is watching.
When your favourite feel good song is played, you’re likely to smile, want to move, and sing along.
Music is psychologically proven to help with anxiety, whether it’s upbeat music which can encourage you to feel optimistic and positive, or slower music which can help you feel soothed and relaxed. Whatever your favourite feel good song is, playing it when you want to get out of your mind and shake off some anxiety can really help.
Dancing is a brilliant way to move your energy and distract you from your anxiety. Just like running a mile can distract you from the pressures of your to-do list, dance uses expressive movement and breathing to deflate anxious thoughts.
In other words, if you’re concentrating on hitting that high note, and spinning around at the same time, you’re most likely not thinking about the whatever was making you anxious a few moments ago. You’ll have a few minutes of endorphins pumping, letting loose and
Make a cuppa
This is likely something that’s already part of your daily routine, so why not transform it into a moment of self-care? Making a cup of your favourite beverage gives you some time for yourself, even if it’s just a minute or two, to press the pause button on life. When we’re anxious it can feel like you’ve got 101 things to do or thoughts running around your mind, so using however long it takes to boil the kettle is a great chance to take some deep breaths whilst you wait. Focussing on deep inhales through your nose and exhales through your mouth slowly will help bring you out of your mind, slow down your heart rate, and help you feel calm.
Then, when you’ve made your drink, sit somewhere comfortably and mindfully drink it without any distractions. Without a phone, the TV or checking your emails, use the time to enjoy a break from whatever you were doing, guilt free.
When we’re anxious, we often feel caught up in our own minds. Personally, it can feel like a thought tornado, spiralling through without stopping to take a breath. Journaling and writing down those thoughts, takes the power away from the tornado or our anxiety. It provides you a safe space to press the pause button, acknowledge how you’re feeling and your thoughts towards something, but also provides you with your own perspective. When we put something down on paper, we allow ourselves to look at it subjectively and from a different perspective compared to the angle our anxiety was looking at it from.
For example, the uncertainty of the next announcement is making you worried and your mind is rushing through all the “what ifs”. Writing those down can help you see what’s true, and what your anxiety has made up. It can help you step back and see if there’s anything you can do about those worries or concerns, and will help you understand them a bit more. Then, when you want to talk to someone about them, you can clearly explain where you’re coming from and get the support you need.
Journaling doesn’t just have to be a way of exploring the thoughts that are making you anxious. It can also be a form of escapism. Writing about the future, things you hope for, dreams that you have, can be a calming activity that brings positivity and optimism for better days. I often ask my clients to write about a day in their dream life. What would they be doing, how would they feel, where would they be? It’s a great chance to pause, and indulge in your hopes and dreams, especially at the moment for when lockdown is all over.
Read a good book
Sometimes, in a global pandemic, when we’re feeling anxious all we want to do is escape to a far away land. Although it isn’t possible for us to do that physically, sitting down and relaxing into a good book can help take your mind off your worries, and transport you into a new place.
It might not remove or resolve the issue that you were anxious about, but doing activities such as reading a book are great for escapism and distracting you, so that you not only feel better in the moment, but also give you a chance to bring yourself into the present, where you can evaluate how you really feel about things with a little more clarity.
Bonus points if you can create a comfortable reading spot that you can regularly use. I have a corner chair with lots of cushions and blankets, with a good light and spot for a candle or two to make it the ultimate relaxing reading nook.
It’s very normal to feel anxious during this time, so I hope this has helped provide you with some ways to reduce those feelings and help you feel calm. Self-care doesn’t have to be as fancy as social media wants you to believe, and that there are so many ideas and practises available, even if we’re all staying at home right now.