TOOL 1: The Importance of Self-Care
An important anxiety-management strategy is to take care of the basics. Think of it as making sure your tank stays closer to “full” so you have more energy and focus to take care of your mental health. Read on for information and practical tips.
Taking care of yourself is an important step for managing anxiety
We all know that we need to aim for a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise to maintain our physical health. It’s easy to forget that these steps are ALSO important for our mental health and well-being. If you struggle with high anxiety, it’s especially important to make self-care a priority in your life. This can include:
- soothing activities (e.g., massages, bath)
- getting adequate sleep (or as much as possible!)
- spending time with friends and family
- making time for pleasurable activities (what do YOU like to do?)
I don’t have time to take care of myself
Let’s admit it – when things get busy and we are juggling many balls in the air, usually the first thing to go is taking care of ourselves. “Self-care” just seems like one MORE thing on our plate. We make promises to ourselves that when things “slow down” we will get back to the gym and start eating healthy again. And then another ball gets thrown in the air and those promises get pushed back another month.
So the next time you are tempted to tell your walking partner that you are just too crazy busy to walk this week, or skip lunch so you can check email instead, take a breath and stop. Making time for small acts of self-care throughout the day will keep you more mentally balanced and energized – so you can keep all those other “more important” balls up in the air!
I do take care of myself but I still feel anxious
Sometimes we haven’t been taking care of ourselves long enough to see a difference yet. Or sometimes we are focused on one area of self-care and not enough on other areas (e.g., eating well but not seeing our friends). We are periodically “filling up” our tank, but still running too close to empty. Also, self-care strategies alone might not be enough to reduce our anxiety. They can still be really useful, however, as they can give us the energy to make other fundamental changes in our lives.