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  • Writer's pictureJasmine Wilson, LCSW

5 Self-Care Strategies to Calm Your Anxious Mind

Updated: Jul 9

Welcome to our guide on self-care strategies to help calm your anxious mind. If you've ever felt overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious, you're not alone. Many people experience these feelings at some point in their lives, and having tools to help manage them is essential. That's where self-care comes in.

Self-care isn't just about taking bubble baths or indulging in treats (although those can be part of it!). It's about taking intentional time to care for yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. When you're dealing with anxiety, self-care can be a powerful way to ease your mind and regain a sense of control.

Therapy for Anxiety in Brea, CA can also be a valuable tool in managing your symptoms. An anxiety therapist can help you explore the root causes of your anxiety. They can also help you develop coping mechanisms and provide a safe space to process your emotions.

In this guide, we will explore five practical self-care strategies that you can incorporate into your daily routine to alleviate anxiety. These strategies are simple, effective, and can be tailored to fit your lifestyle. Whether you're dealing with occasional feelings of anxiety or managing an anxiety disorder, these self-care techniques can offer relief and support. Let’s get started!

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1. Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing exercises are a simple yet powerful way to calm your anxious mind and relax your body. When we feel anxious, our breath tends to become shallow and rapid, which can further exacerbate our feelings of stress and tension. Deep breathing techniques help counteract this by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

Breathing Techniques to Consider for Self-Care

The best part about breathing is that it’s always accessible to us - the following techniques can be practiced anywhere, anytime: 

  • Diaphragmatic Breathing (Deep Breathing):

    • Find a comfortable seated or lying position. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise as you fill your lungs with air. Exhale slowly and fully through your mouth, feeling your abdomen fall. Focus on making your exhalation longer than your inhalation.

  • 4-7-8 Breathing Technique:

    • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of 4 seconds. Hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds. Exhale slowly and completely through your mouth for a count of 8 seconds, making a whooshing sound. Repeat this cycle for several rounds.

  • Box Breathing (Square Breathing):

    • Visualize a square shape as you breathe. Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of 4 seconds, imagining the first side of the square. Hold your breath for a count of 4 seconds, visualizing the second side. Exhale slowly and completely through your mouth for a count of 4 seconds, completing the third side. Hold your breath again for a count of 4 seconds, visualizing the final side of the square. Repeat the cycle.

  • Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana):

    • Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight. Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale deeply through your left nostril for a count of 4 seconds. Close your left nostril with your right ring finger, release your thumb, and exhale through your right nostril for a count of 4 seconds. Inhale through your right nostril for a count of 4 seconds, then close it with your thumb and exhale through your left nostril for a count of 4 seconds. Continue this pattern, alternating nostrils with each breath.

  • Equal Breathing (Sama Vritti):

    • Sit comfortably with your spine straight. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4 seconds. Exhale through your nose for a count of 4 seconds. Keep the length of your inhalation and exhalation equal throughout the practice.

2. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a holistic healing practice that uses the natural aromas of essential oils to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being. These oils contain aromatic compounds that interact with the body's olfactory system. They also interact with the skin and respiratory system, to produce various healing effects. Aromatherapy is a gentle and effective way to alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation.

Popular Essential Oils for Anxiety Relief:

  • Lavender: Lavender essential oil is renowned for its calming and soothing properties. It helps reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve sleep quality.

  • Chamomile: Chamomile essential oil has gentle sedative effects, making it ideal for reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.

  • Bergamot: Bergamot essential oil is uplifting and energizing, making it useful for reducing anxiety and lifting mood.

  • Ylang Ylang: Ylang Ylang essential oil has a sweet, floral scent that helps reduce anxiety and promotes feelings of joy and well-being.

  • Frankincense: Frankincense essential oil is grounding and calming, making it useful for reducing anxiety and promoting deep relaxation.

How to Use Aromatherapy:

  • Diffusion: Add a few drops of your chosen essential oil to a diffuser filled with water. Allow the aroma to fill the room and inhale deeply.

  • Topical Application: Dilute essential oils with a carrier oil (such as coconut oil or almond oil) and apply to pulse points, temples, or the soles of your feet.

  • Inhalation: Place a drop of essential oil on a tissue or cotton ball and inhale deeply.

  • Bath: Add a few drops of essential oil to a warm bath and soak for 15-20 minutes to promote relaxation.

  • Massage: Combine essential oils with a carrier oil (e.g., grape, jojoba, or coconut oil) and massage into the skin to relax tense muscles and promote overall relaxation.

Safety Considerations:

  • Always dilute essential oils before applying them to the skin to avoid irritation.

  • Perform a patch test before using a new essential oil to check for any allergic reactions.

  • Consult a healthcare professional before using essential oils if you are pregnant, nursing, or have any medical conditions.

3. Exercise for Anxiety Relief

Exercise is a powerful tool for managing anxiety and improving overall mental health. Physical activity not only benefits the body but also has profound effects on the mind. This helps to reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, and promote a sense of well-being. Incorporating regular exercise into your routine can be an effective strategy for managing anxiety symptoms and improving your overall quality of life.

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How Exercise Helps Reduce Anxiety

  • Release of Endorphins: Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins promote feelings of happiness and well-being. This helps to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.

  • Reduction of Stress Hormones: Physical activity lowers the body's production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. This leads to a decrease in physiological arousal. It also helps to calm the body's stress response and reduce anxiety levels.

  • Distraction and Focus: Engaging in exercise provides a distraction from anxious thoughts and rumination. This allows you to focus on the present moment and the physical sensations of movement. This shift in focus can help break the cycle of worry and promote relaxation.

  • Improvement in Sleep Quality: Regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality, which is essential for managing anxiety. A good night's sleep can help regulate mood, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being.

  • Boost in Self-Esteem: Regular exercise can boost self-esteem and self-confidence. This can lead to a more positive outlook on life. This can help reduce feelings of anxiety and improve overall mental health.

Incorporating Exercise into Your Routine

  • Start Slow: If you're new to exercise or haven't been active in a while, start with small, manageable goals. Then gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.

  • Find Activities You Enjoy: Choose activities that you enjoy and that fit your lifestyle. Whether it's dancing, hiking, swimming, or gardening, finding activities you love will make it easier to stick with them.

  • Schedule Regular Exercise Sessions: Set aside dedicated time for exercise in your daily or weekly schedule. Treat it like an important appointment that you can't miss.

  • Mix It Up: Vary your workouts to keep things interesting and prevent boredom. Try different types of exercises and activities to challenge your body and mind.

  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body feels during and after exercise. If something doesn't feel right, modify your workout or take a break.

Overcoming Barriers to Exercise

  • Lack of Time: Look for opportunities to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. This can include taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for a walk during your lunch break.

  • Lack of Motivation: Find a workout buddy or join a group exercise class to stay motivated and accountable. Setting specific, achievable goals can also help keep you motivated.

  • Physical Limitations: If you have physical limitations or health concerns, work with a healthcare professional to develop a safe and appropriate exercise plan. There are many low-impact exercise options available that can be adapted to accommodate different fitness levels and abilities.

  • Fear of Judgment: Remember that everyone starts somewhere, and no one is judging you. Focus on your own progress and how exercise makes you feel, rather than worrying about what others think.

4. Creative Outlets for Self-Care

Engaging in creative activities is an effective and enjoyable way to manage anxiety and promote mental well-being. Creative outlets provide an opportunity to express yourself and explore your emotions. It also helps you channel your energy into something productive and fulfilling. Whether it's painting, writing, crafting, or playing music, finding a creative outlet that resonates with you can be a valuable tool for coping with anxiety.

Types of Creative Outlets

  • Visual Arts: Painting, drawing, sketching, sculpting, and photography are all excellent ways to express yourself visually and explore your creativity.

  • Writing: Whether it's journaling, poetry, fiction, or personal essays, writing allows you to articulate your thoughts and feelings in a meaningful way.

  • Music: Playing an instrument, singing, composing music, or simply listening to music can be deeply therapeutic and emotionally expressive.

  • Crafts: Activities such as knitting, crocheting, sewing, woodworking, or pottery provide a hands-on outlet for creativity and can be highly relaxing.

  • Cooking and Baking: Experimenting with recipes and cooking techniques can be a deliciously creative way to unwind and express yourself.

  • Dance and Movement: Dancing, yoga, or other forms of movement can be a powerful outlet for expressing emotions and connecting with your body.

  • Gardening: Cultivating plants, tending to a garden, or arranging flowers can be a nurturing and therapeutic way to engage with nature and express creativity.

How Creative Outlets Help Reduce Anxiety

  • Expression of Emotions: Creative activities offer a safe and non-judgmental space to express your emotions. These emotions include anxiety, fear, and frustration. Through art, writing, or music, you can externalize your feelings and gain a deeper understanding of them.

  • Mindfulness and Presence: Engaging in creative pursuits often involves focusing on the present moment. This can promote mindfulness and reduce anxiety. When you immerse yourself in a creative task, you temporarily let go of worries about the past or future. This helps you focus on the here and now.

  • Stress Relief: Creative activities can be inherently relaxing and meditative. This provides a much-needed break from the demands of daily life. Whether you're painting, knitting, or playing an instrument, the rhythmic and repetitive nature of creative tasks can soothe the nervous system. This helps reduce stress.

  • Sense of Accomplishment: Completing a creative project, whether it's a painting, a poem, or a piece of music, can boost your self-esteem. This can give you a sense of accomplishment. This feeling of achievement can counteract feelings of anxiety. It also increases feelings of self-worth.

  • Distraction and Flow: Creative pursuits can be absorbing and immersive. This leads to a state of flow where you become fully absorbed in the activity. This state of flow provides a welcome distraction from anxious thoughts. It also helps promote a sense of joy and fulfillment.

How to Incorporate Creative Outlets into Your Self-Care Routine

  • Make Time for Creativity: Set aside dedicated time in your schedule for creative activities, even if it's just a few minutes each day. Treat it as a priority and commit to nurturing your creative side.

  • Experiment and Explore: Don't be afraid to try new creative activities and explore different mediums. You might discover hidden talents or find new ways to express yourself.

  • Create an Inspiring Environment: Set up a designated space in your home where you can engage in creative activities without distractions. Surround yourself with materials and tools that inspire you.

  • Start Small: If you're feeling overwhelmed, start with small, manageable projects that you can complete in a short amount of time. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small.

  • Focus on the Process: Instead of worrying about the end result, focus on enjoying the process of creating. Embrace imperfection and allow yourself to experiment and make mistakes.

  • Connect with Others: Consider joining a creative community or group where you can share your work, gain inspiration. It can also help you connect with like-minded individuals.

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5. Seek Support

Seeking support is a crucial aspect of managing anxiety. It also helps promote overall well-being. While self-care strategies can be effective, it's important to recognize when you need additional help. Don't be afraid to reach out to others for support. Whether it's friends, family, or professional help, seeking support can provide valuable resources. It can also provide guidance to help you navigate through challenging times.

Types of Support

  • Friends and Family: Trusted friends and family members can offer emotional support, a listening ear, and practical help when needed. Opening up to loved ones about your struggles can help you feel less alone and provide valuable perspective and encouragement.

  • Support Groups: Joining a support group for anxiety or mental health can connect you with others who understand what you're going through. Sharing experiences, insights, and coping strategies with peers can be incredibly validating and empowering.

  • Therapy/Counseling: Therapy or counseling with a licensed mental health professional can provide you with personalized support. It can also provide you guidance for managing anxiety. An anxiety therapist can help you identify the underlying causes of your anxiety and develop coping skills. They can also help you work through challenging emotions in a safe and supportive environment.

  • Online Resources: There are numerous online resources available for anxiety support. This includes forums, chat rooms, and educational websites. While online resources can't replace professional help, they can be a valuable supplement to your support network.

  • Hotlines and Helplines: If you're in crisis or need immediate support, hotlines and helplines provide confidential assistance and resources. Organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) offer helplines staffed by trained volunteers who can provide support and referrals to local resources.

Recognizing When You Need Support

  • If you experience persistent symptoms of anxiety that interfere with your daily life - be it work, your relationships, or your mood - it may be a sign that you need additional support. These symptoms may include excessive worry, restlessness, and irritability. It can also include trouble sleeping or physical symptoms such as muscle tension or headaches.

  • If you feel overwhelmed by your anxiety or find yourself unable to manage it effectively, reaching out for support can provide you with a sense of relief. It can also provide assistance in navigating through difficult emotions.

Essential Elements of Your Self-Care Journey

As you embark on your journey of self-care for anxiety management, keep the following points in mind:

  1. Be Patient with Yourself: Healing and personal growth take time. Be patient with yourself as you explore different strategies and find what resonates with you.

  2. Practice Consistency: Consistency is key to seeing results. Make self-care a priority by incorporating it into your daily routine, even during busy times.

  3. Listen to Your Body and Mind: Pay attention to your body and mind's signals. If a particular strategy doesn't feel right or isn't effective, don't be afraid to try something else.

  4. Reach Out for Support: You don't have to go through this alone. Don't hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or professionals for support and guidance when you need it.

  5. Celebrate Your Progress: Celebrate even the smallest victories along the way. Recognize and celebrate the progress you've made in managing your anxiety and taking care of yourself.

Above all, be kind to yourself. You are worthy of love, care, and compassion, and your mental health matters!

Looking for an Anxiety Therapist in Brea, CA?

If you're struggling with anxiety, Therapy for Anxiety in Brea, CA with Adaptive Resolutions Counseling Services can provide the support and guidance you need. Simply follow the steps below to get started:

Additional Therapy Services Offered at Adaptive Resolutions Counseling Services in Brea and Online Throughout CA + AZ

At Adaptive Resolutions Counseling Services, I offer a variety of services tailored to your individual needs. In addition to Therapy for Anxiety in Brea, CA, I specialize in Therapy for Life Transitions and Therapy for Self-Esteem.

I also offer personalized approaches to support your journey. Whether you prefer Individual Therapy or Group Therapy, my goal is to help you improve your anxiety and navigate life with confidence. Reach out today to discover more about my services and how I can support you in freeing yourself of anxiety and living a more peaceful life.

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