10 Simple Ways to Practice the Subtle Art of Self-Care

Finding time to focus on the present is difficult for me. As someone with an anxiety disorder, I often linger in the realm of catastrophe: worrying “what if,” visualizing the worst case scenarios, reliving moments I’ve experienced and focusing on the embarrassing things I’ve said or done; what I could have done differently. There a constant stream of thoughts flowing over and over through my brain.

I’ve come to the realization that I can’t be the best me if I don’t take care of myself. When I’m not the best version of me, I can’t possibly be the best partner, employee, friend, daughter, pet mom, auntie or sister. I’m slowly working on self-care: taking time to be gentle with myself, feel my thoughts and feelings, and slowing down.

Here’s what I’ve been focusing on. Maybe these things will help you too.

1. Dumping my brain.

Getting it all out. On paper. On a computer. Vocally. Through art. I keep a journal beside my bed now to dump my brain onto half an hour before bed. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I dump all my thoughts and feelings in there in the middle of the night. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to make sense. I’ve found just getting it out there lets me move on to something else, if only for a few moments.

2. Getting outside.

Connecting with nature. Breathing in the fresh air. Running my feet through the grass. Walking my dog. Feeling the sun on my face.

3. Brushing my teeth, washing my face, putting on deodorant.

The most basic of self-care. Sometimes, when I’m potatoing, I don’t even do these simple things. You’ll feel better, if only for that moment. Even if I accomplish nothing else that day, at least I had a fresh face, fresh bod and fresh breath.

4. Napping.

Escape for a while with a snooze. Some people claim you shouldn’t go to bed angry. I disagree. Sleep helps clear my brain from unnecessary chatter. Naps have saved me from saying things I didn’t really need to say.

5. Changing out of my pajamas…

… even if it is into other pajamas. Put on something comfortable. Wear your favorite shirt. Get cozy.

6. Stopping the mindless social media scrolling.

This is my biggest crutch when I’m feeling anxious, unwell or restless. I keep expecting something to break me out of this cycle. I keep waiting for someone to like my posts or acknowledge my presence. I’m just looking for the reassurance I exist and I’m important. I’m slowly trying to be present in the real world and not the digital world.

7. Breathing.

Whether you meditate or not, taking the time to focus solely on your breath. It can bring much-needed clarity, if only for a few moments. I’m slowly learning that mindfulness can help calm my anxiety. If you are looking for easy mindfulness/meditation apps, check out Buddhify and Headspace. I am currently using both.

8. Being kind to myself.

Treat yourself with grace. It’s OK to be feeling the way you are feeling. Try not to compare yourself to who you were yesterday or worry about who you are going to be tomorrow. Give yourself the space to feel this feeling.

9. Create something…

… whether it’s art, writing or even making a healthy meal for yourself. Focus on doing a task. Focus on the steps you’re taking: the veggies you are cutting, the pencil you are holding, the words you are typing.

10. Get moving.

Running is obviously my go-to, or else I wouldn’t be the Little Anxious Runner, would I? You don’t need to run like me to reap these benefits. Just get your body flowing. Yoga, playing with your dog or child, lifting weights. You name it. Take a walk around your block — extra points if it ends up at an ice cream shop.

Follow this journey on littleanxiousrunner.com

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Thinkstock photo via Hemera Technologies

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