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6 (Basically) Free Self-Care Ideas for Anxiety

As a person with anxiety, these are a few of my favorite things to do and use that are basically free:

1. The Breathe App

Have you tried this? It’s an app that prompts you to take deep slow breaths for one minute while it tracks your heart rate. I didn’t think much of it until I was having a panic attack that seemed to last all day. I was dreading a root canal that was scheduled for much later in the day and I was just pacing all morning with my heart racing. I tried the app on my iWatch and it was so satisfying to watch my heart rate go down a little more each time I took a deep breath. It truly distracted me and now it feels like this secret weapon I have any time I’m super anxious.

2. The Insight Timer App

This is another one that is great for people who like the idea of meditation, but have a difficult time quieting the thoughts in their heads. When I am super anxious, I can’t fall asleep for the life of me. Insight Timer offers guided mediation for a variety of subjects, one being sleep. I have bluetooth headphones/eye mask that come in a soft headband and I use that to comfortably drift off while I’m listening to a super sleepy meditation. Also, it doesn’t trick you into loving it, just to charge you money later. You can donate money to your favorite instructors and they have a premium membership option that is just that, optional.

3. Chamomile Tea

Now pretty much everyone knows about tea and how great it is, some people like it, some don’t. But something about chamomile tea can easily relax you. I use it to replace a glass of wine when I want to wind down. Not that there’s anything wrong with a glass of wine, but it’s nice to have another choice! The trick for me is adding a second tea bag — I find the extra strength more effective. And if it’s not your cup of tea (pun intended!), try adding some milk and honey. It’s really nice when you’re meeting with an old friend and may be anxious about making conversation, or just to help calm those those little jitters during the work day.

4. Take a Break From Politics and the News

As a person with anxiety, I care so much about everything too much. When I read the news and hear about wildfires and shootings, it absolutely breaks my heart. I think about it all day, I can’t handle it. I do everything I can to be environmentally conscious and I stay up-to-date when I can, but others times, I just can’t. For the past year, the world seems to be on overdrive and I’ve found, for me, that it’s best to read the headlines so I’m not ignorant to my surroundings, but I don’t need all the details. If I have an extra few bucks, I will donate and if there’s a petition I believe in, I will sign it. But I can’t be in that whirlwind on a day-to-day basis. There’s nothing wrong with taking control of how many anxiety triggers you are exposed to. If you feel like you need some type of world updates, I’d check out uplifting news. I follow a few Reddit threads that just tell me about baby stories and towns coming together to donate blood after a tragedy, and so many other true feel good stories that I can’t get enough of.

5. Music

This seems obvious, but bare with me. Music is such a powerful thing. It has the ability to enhance a mood and even change it. The teenager in me loves putting a sad breakup song on repeat and just crying as hard as I can in my car. It’s therapeutic sometimes. Other times, I’ve already cried it out and I am in a position where I need to pull myself together. I may be on my way to work and just especially anxious to interact with my boss. When this happens, I have a specific playlist that pumps me up. And if I’m feeling self-conscious, I listen to Lizzo and dance in the shower. If I need a boost of hope, I listen to the opening song from the movie “Inside Out.” I decide how I want to feel and use music to get me there. I use Spotify and pay for the membership, but there’s a free option too! The app makes it so easy to make playlists and it learns your music preferences, giving you suggestions for new music based on your taste. And while you’re checking that out, look up Lizzo. Ten minutes into listening to her album, I am an unstoppable queen, ready to conquer the day.

6. Walk Through Nature

This one was kind of a game changer for me. As a kid, I spent a lot of time exploring the woods and appreciating nature. But once I got older, I really started taking it for granted. One random day a few years ago, I stumbled upon a nearby nature preserve near my house. Just walking through the grass and passing wildflowers, bunnies and butterflies really helped me forget about my problems. I’ve always been nervous about hiking and getting lost in the woods, but it turns out there are walking paths most places, especially in New England where I live. And there’s plenty of options, so you can walk on a 10 minute trail or an hour long one. Also, a lot of state parks will give you a map or have the trails labeled so you’re in control of your walk. It’s great for people with social anxiety because there’s almost never anyone there and if there is, they’re just doing their own thing and will maybe give you a smile or head nod as they walk by, but other than that you’re in your own little beautiful world. Each state has their own website, but you can find state parks near you on your own state’s website. I live in Massachusetts so if I go to mass.gov, it lists free parks I can visit and even includes places to swim, bike, walk or go camping.

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