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  • Writer's pictureJasmine Wilson, LCSW

5 Self-Care Strategies to Calm Your Anxious Mind (Part 2)

Welcome back to our exploration of self-care strategies for managing anxiety. In Part One, we identified deep breathing exercises, aromatherapy, physical exercise, exploring creative outlets, and seeking support as essential self-care practices to include in your anxiety-management toolbox.


In Part Two, we'll provide five more powerful anxiety-reducing self-care practices, including: mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, healthy sleep habits, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and setting boundaries. These strategies will further equip you with the tools you need to effectively manage stress and promote overall well-being.


Young man in Brea, CA practicing mindfulness meditation for anxiety.

1. Mindfulness Meditation


Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation that focuses on cultivating awareness of the present moment. It involves paying attention to your breath, bodily sensations, thoughts, and emotions with openness and curiosity. The goal is to become fully present and engaged in the here and now, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.


Incorporating Mindfulness Meditation into Your Routine


  • Start with short sessions of 5-10 minutes and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable with the practice.

  • Schedule regular meditation sessions at the same time each day to establish a consistent habit.

  • Use guided mindfulness meditation apps or recordings to help you stay focused and motivated.

  • Practice mindfulness informally throughout the day by bringing your attention to everyday activities like eating, walking, or washing dishes.


Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation


  • Reduces Anxiety and Stress: Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce activity in the brain's amygdala, which is responsible for processing emotions like fear and anxiety.

  • Promotes Emotional Regulation: By observing your thoughts and emotions with mindfulness, you can learn to respond to them more skillfully and compassionately, rather than reacting impulsively.

  • Increases Self-Awareness: Mindfulness meditation helps you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, leading to greater self-understanding and insight.

  • Enhances Focus and Concentration: Regular practice of mindfulness meditation strengthens the brain's ability to sustain attention and focus, improving productivity and performance.



2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)


Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a relaxation technique that involves tensing and relaxing each muscle group in your body systematically. By intentionally tensing and releasing muscle tension, you can promote physical relaxation and alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.


How to Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation


  1. Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can lie down or sit in a relaxed position.

  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to center yourself.

  3. Start by focusing on your feet. Tense the muscles in your feet by curling your toes downward and holding the tension for 5-10 seconds. Then, release the tension and allow your feet to relax completely.

  4. Move your attention to your calves. Point your toes toward your body, tensing the muscles in your calves. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then release and feel the tension melt away.

  5. Continue this process, working your way up your body, tensing and relaxing each muscle group:

  • Thighs

  • Hips and buttocks

  • Abdomen

  • Chest and back

  • Shoulders

  • Arms and hands

  • Neck and jaw

  • Face (scrunching your face and then relaxing)

  • Take slow, deep breaths as you go through each muscle group, and focus on the sensations of tensing and relaxing.


Young woman practicing healthy sleep habits in Brea, CA for anxiety management.

3. Healthy Sleep Habits


Adequate sleep is crucial for managing anxiety as it allows the body and mind to rest and recharge. Lack of sleep can exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, making it harder to cope with daily challenges. By prioritizing sleep and adopting healthy sleep habits, you can improve your mood, focus, and resilience to stress.



Tips for Improving Sleep Quality


  • Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, to regulate your body's internal clock.

  • Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Establish a calming bedtime routine to signal to your body that it's time to wind down. Activities such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques can help prepare your mind and body for sleep.

  • Optimize Your Sleep Environment: Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows and consider using white noise or earplugs to block out any disruptive sounds.

  • Limit Screen Time Before Bed: Avoid using electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, or computers at least an hour before bedtime, as the blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.

  • Watch Your Diet and Hydration: Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime, as these can disrupt sleep. Instead, opt for a light snack or herbal tea to promote relaxation.

  • Exercise Regularly: Engage in regular physical activity during the day but avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime. Exercise helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle and promotes deeper, more restful sleep.

  • Manage Stress and Anxiety: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to calm your mind and body before bedtime.

  • Limit Naps: While short naps can be beneficial, avoid napping for too long or too late in the day, as this can interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night.


Incorporating Healthy Sleep Habits into Your Routine


  • Start Small: Implement one or two changes at a time to gradually improve your sleep habits.

  • Stay Consistent: Stick to your sleep schedule and bedtime routine, even on weekends or when traveling.

  • Monitor Your Progress: Keep track of your sleep patterns and how you feel during the day to assess the effectiveness of your sleep hygiene practices.

  • Be Patient: It may take time for your body to adjust to new sleep habits, so be patient and give yourself grace as you work towards better sleep.



4. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol


Caffeine and alcohol can have significant effects on anxiety levels and overall well-being. By being mindful of your consumption and making conscious choices to limit them, you can better manage anxiety and promote a healthier lifestyle.


The Impact of Caffeine on Anxiety


  • Stimulant Effects: Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline levels. For some people, these physiological responses can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and contribute to jitteriness and nervousness.

  • Disruption of Sleep: Caffeine has a half-life of several hours, meaning it can linger in your system long after you consume it. Consuming caffeine, especially later in the day, can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and achieve restful sleep, which is essential for managing anxiety.

  • Increased Sensitivity: Individuals with anxiety disorders may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine, as it can trigger or worsen symptoms such as racing thoughts, restlessness, and irritability.


The Impact of Alcohol on Anxiety


  • Depressant Effects: While alcohol initially has a sedative effect that may temporarily reduce feelings of anxiety, it is ultimately a depressant that can disrupt neurotransmitter balance and contribute to feelings of sadness, irritability, and anxiety.

  • Interference with Sleep: Alcohol disrupts the normal sleep cycle, leading to fragmented sleep and decreased sleep quality. Over time, chronic alcohol consumption can lead to insomnia and worsen anxiety symptoms.

  • Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and can lead to dehydration. Dehydration can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and contribute to physical symptoms such as headaches and fatigue.

  • Mood Swings: Alcohol consumption can lead to mood swings and emotional instability, making it difficult to regulate emotions and cope with stressors effectively.


Tips for Limiting Caffeine and Alcohol Intake


  • Monitor Your Consumption: Pay attention to how much caffeine and alcohol you consume daily. Keep track of the sources of caffeine in your diet, such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, and chocolate, as well as alcoholic beverages.

  • Set Limits: Establish limits for how much caffeine and alcohol you will consume each day. For caffeine, aim for no more than 200-300 milligrams per day (equivalent to 2-3 cups of coffee). For alcohol, follow national guidelines for moderate drinking, which typically recommend no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

  • Be Mindful of Timing: Avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon or evening, as it can interfere with sleep. Similarly, limit alcohol consumption in the hours leading up to bedtime to promote restful sleep.

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, especially if you consume caffeine or alcohol. Hydration can help mitigate some of the negative effects of these substances and promote overall well-being.

  • Seek Alternatives: Replace caffeinated beverages with decaffeinated options or herbal teas. For alcohol, consider non-alcoholic alternatives such as mocktails or sparkling water with fruit.

  • Practice Moderation: Enjoy caffeine and alcohol in moderation and be mindful of the impact they have on your mood and anxiety levels. If you notice that these substances worsen your anxiety, consider reducing or eliminating them from your diet.



Young woman practicing setting boundaries by gesturing 'no' in Brea, CA.

5. Set Boundaries


Setting boundaries is an essential aspect of self-care and a powerful tool for managing anxiety. Boundaries are guidelines, rules, or limits that we set for ourselves in various areas of our lives, helping us create a healthy balance between our own needs and the needs of others. By setting and enforcing boundaries, we can protect our mental and emotional well-being and reduce stress.


Types of Boundaries


  • Physical Boundaries: These boundaries define your personal space and physical comfort level. They include things like personal space, touching, and privacy.

  • Emotional Boundaries: Emotional boundaries protect your emotions and feelings. They involve expressing your emotions, saying no without feeling guilty, and setting limits on how much emotional support you give to others.

  • Mental Boundaries: Mental boundaries protect your thoughts, beliefs, and values. They involve respecting your opinions, not allowing others to manipulate or control your thoughts, and setting limits on intellectual conversations.

  • Time Boundaries: Time boundaries protect your time and energy. They involve setting limits on how much time you spend on work, social activities, or other commitments, and prioritizing self-care and relaxation.

  • Digital Boundaries: Digital boundaries involve setting limits on your use of technology and social media. They include things like setting screen-time limits, managing notifications, and protecting your online privacy.


Why Setting Boundaries is Important for Managing Anxiety


Knowing your boundaries and setting healthy limits is essential for managing anxiety. By clearly defining your limits on time, energy, and emotional availability, you can protect yourself from taking on too much and feeling overwhelmed. In this way, setting boundaries can act as an emotional preservation strategy and natural barrier against anxiety, affording you more energy to face challenging situations with a more balanced mindset.


Self-Care Helps Promote Balance and Overall Wellbeing

If you've read this far, you know by now that self-care is all about choosing to take care of your physical, mental, emotional, and relational needs. By practicing any of the tools mentioned here today and incorporating them into your self-care routine, you can reduce stress, thereby reducing anxiety and improving your overall happiness - it's even been proven by clinical research!


Learn More Anxiety-Reducing Self-Care Strategies in Brea, CA Today!


Anxiety can make everyday life difficult and practicing self-care feel like a chore. If you're struggling with anxiety and need additional support with establishing a healthy self-care routine, 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


Adaptive Resolutions Counseling Services offers 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 and clarity. 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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