How to Use Self-Care Techniques to Eliminate Anxiety
Self-care is not something I practice as often as I should. More than I care to admit, I let my worried thoughts and panic live in my presence. But last week, I decided to try something new. I was going to use self-compassion. WHAT? Anxiety hates that!
I had a meeting scheduled for Friday. It was 8AM on Thursday, and yet I could not stop thinking about how I was going to make it on time the next day. It was an early morning meeting, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get my child off to school on time. He is constantly dragging his feet, which puts me in a position of yelling “HUSTLE!” about 35 times in five minutes.
There is so much I could have been thinking about on Thursday. Things like what I did have control over. Yet I COULD NOT stop thinking about what I would do if I was late tomorrow.
What Do I Have Control Over?
Self-care is not always pampering yourself. Sometimes it is just cutting yourself some slack.
I decided that I will make a list of the things that I can and cannot control.
- I can control whether my child’s backpack and lunch is packed the night before.
- I can have my lunch and clothes ironed and ready to be worn the night before.
- I can control whether or not he has clothes ready to wear.
- I can control what time he goes to bed.
- I can control what time he gets up.
- I can control what time I get up.
- I can explain to my son that I have to be at work early and that I need him to be compliant.
- I can accommodate a window of exactly 3 minutes of lag time in the event that something goes awry.
The one thing I cannot control is whether or not my son is going to drag his feet putting his clothes on and getting ready to leave. This is what I was fixating on. This is what was causing me great anxiety.
Okay, so maybe my kid will drag his feet and I will not make it on time. What is the worst that will happen? The person I am meeting with might have to wait a minute. Is this the end of the world? I mean, let’s be real. I am constantly waiting for other people when I have an appointment with them. Waiting is just part of the meeting game, right?
This is the story of anxiety. it burrows its face into places that are out of our control and tells us that we must solve unsolvable problems. If we can’t, there is something wrong with us.
Knowing that this does not pass the out loud test in any way, I decided that I am not going to let this anxious feeling about things that are out of my power take over. After all, I have done everything that I can to ensure a timely exit from my house. What I needed to do now was let go of what I did not have the power to change, which is the speed in which my son was going to get himself ready to leave.
The Ultimate Self-Care Cards
I recently ran across The Anxiety and Stress Solution Deck. It has become my new best friend. I carry it with me everywhere. Unlike a book, where you have to thumb through chapters to find that one sentence in that one chapter that you really liked, these are single cards that are broken down into four categories: thoughts, behaviors, feelings, calmness.
Recognizing that my current shade of anxiety was interfering with my thoughts and calmness, I decided to focus on these two categories first.
The Thought Cards
I grabbed a card from the thought pile. It reminded me that no one has the power over me unless I let them. This goes for my friend, anxiety. It cannot control me unless I give it power. So I decided to take its power out of its grubby little death grip.
The card told me to identify my self-defeating statements and then counter them with empowering statements. For me, my initial thought is if I don’t make it to this meeting on time, everyone’s day will be ruined and I am a useless person. I then flipped the script and told myself that even if I don’t make it to the meeting on time, I will not be that late. I can always skip the small talk and get right to the agenda, which will make up for the time I might have lost. Oooo…that’s good.
Recognizing that anxiety breeds hysteria in me, I realized that none of my empowering thoughts are going to make their way to reality if I don’t first calm my body. After all, a calm body spawns a calm mind.
The Calm Cards
The first one I grabbed told me to breathe. You would think that this would come naturally, but if you deal with anxiety you know that it does not. Breathing is shallow and prevents oxygen from flowing freely to your brain. But this card reminded me how to breath in a way that would be calming.
As I breathed in air, I was to take in peace and calm. As I exhaled, I was to breathe out the stress. This sounds simple, but it is not. I had to start and stop a few times because my mind would go back to worry. But I pressed through, and after about five minutes of these breathing exercises I felt my entire body calm.
I grabbed a second calming card just for good measure. This one reminded me to be self-compassionate. The suggestion was to write self-critical statements on one side of a piece of paper, and then to flip it to the other side where I was to write something more compassionate to myself.
If it Lives, it Dies
Something about seeing critical words on a piece of paper brought it to life. And when something lives, that means you can kill it. That’s where the flip side of critical comes in, which is compassion. So instead of saying to myself, being late is unprofessional and everyone will hate me, I said life happens to everyone. Being five minutes late will not ruin anyone’s day. I have a track record of being on time. This would be the exception, not the rule.
I kept this piece of paper in my pocket, along with the other self-defeating statements and their compassionate counterparts.
By now, you might be wondering if I made it to the meeting on time.
Some of the Best Tools for Self-Care
There are many tools that you can find that will help you take better care of yourself. I have tried a lot. Scroll down to see the ones that I’m highlighting. I refer to these two strategies regularly. Personally, I think they are the best in terms of accessibility and ease of use.
This is a researched-based, proven way to end anxiety for good. I use it and find it to help me to understand my thoughts and re-frame the messages I send to myself. Plus, I listen to the audio in my car, which provides me the opportunity to drive to work and practice self-care at the same time. I’m all about time saving.
The Anxiety and Stress Solution Deck I just wrote about. I love anything that doesn’t require me to spend a ton of time. And if I can use it on the go, I’m down.