couple doing yoga at home

10 (almost) free self-care tips for anxiety

author: Sarah Neate

By Sarah Neate

Since lockdown started, more people are reporting poor mental health than ever before. When you’re feeling anxious, take a moment to do something for yourself and try some of these ideas.

1. Write in a journal

Journaling is highly recommended for people who want to carry out a bit of self-care.  There’s plenty of research to support the benefits behind it as well, including improved mindfulness, reduced stress, and better memory function.

Keeping a journal also allows you to read back over how you’ve been feeling which might help you identify any patterns or triggers.

2. Take a walk or run   

Exercise releases endorphins which could help to balance out any anxiety. If you work from home, take a walk at lunchtime to get a break from the screen. Anxiety and overthinking can often come together, so a bit of outdoor exercise can help you to clear your head.

Many who favour walking and running consider it a form of meditation as well.

3. Do some cleaning

The saying ‘tidy house equals a tidy mind’ is rooted in truth. Tidying and decluttering can make your living space feel more peaceful.

The action of cleaning will give you something to focus your mind on, giving you a bit of respite from any negative thinking.

4. Get a colouring book  

Adult colouring books have soared in popularity recently due to being therapeutic and relaxing. Colouring is a great way to focus your mind and pass the time during lockdown.

Some colouring books for adults can be expensive, but The Works has one for just £4.00.

If you don’t want to buy a colouring book, you could download some patterns online and print them off yourself.

5. Make a list

Time management is a common cause of anxiety. By writing a list you can work out what you need to do and when you need to do it. You also get the satisfaction of ticking things off your to-do list once you've completed them.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a classic to-do list either. You could write a list of:

  • your goals
  • your recent achievements
  • things you’re grateful for.

Studies show that practising gratitude regularly boosts mental health because it requires you to focus on your positive emotions.

6. Call a friend

Talking to someone you feel close to is a great way to offload any worries. They could help you rationalise your thoughts or simply listen.  It can be easy to become overwhelmed by your negative thoughts, so sharing them with someone else can help relieve that mindset.  

If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your thoughts with a friend or family member, the NHS has provided a list of mental health charities that could listen instead.

7. Practice deep breathing

When you experience anxiety or panic, your heart rate increases and your breathing becomes shallow. In these moments, it's common to catastrophise any negative thoughts and feel trapped.

When this happens, take a few deep, slow breaths. This will help to slow your heart rate and make you feel calmer.

Have a go at the following technique:

  1. inhale in for 4 seconds
  2. hold your breath for 4 seconds
  3. exhale for 6 seconds.

If you can't take your breaths for this long, try inhaling and holding 3 seconds, and exhaling for 5 instead. 

Try repeating a few times until you feel better. The NHS also has recommended breathing techniques for stress.

8. Make a routine

Some people who feel anxious often report feelings of being out of control. Establishing a routine will give your day structure and a sense of control.

Having a routine also allows you to factor in relaxation time to do the things that you enjoy.

9. Do some yoga

Yoga is a popular anxiety remedy across the world. It can seem intimidating, but there are lots of resources available for beginners or those with reduced mobility.

Yoga with Adriene is a great place to get started.  You can explore Adriene’s YouTube channel and practice in your living room. She also has plenty of yoga flows aimed at beginners and some focused just on meditation.

10. Make your bedroom a no-screen-zone

Too much screen time has been linked to anxiety, depression, and poor sleep quality. In today’s modern world, people are spending hours glued to their devices, which is proving to harm their mental health.

Looking at your screen before bedtime can cause interrupted sleep as well.  Make your bedroom a no-screen-zone for a week as a challenge. Swap scrolling for reading to help you wind down if you need it.  

To read more about apps designed to support your mental health, read on here.

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Sarah Neate

By Sarah Neate

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couple doing yoga at home couple doing yoga at home