Managing anxiety through self care

Cooper Anderson, In-Depth Editor

Anxiety comes in all shapes and sizes, and manifests itself in people in a variety of different ways. According to a scientific brief released by the World Health Organization, rates of anxiety and depression have increased by a whopping 25% in recent years. Everyone has different stressors in their lives that can cause feelings of anxiety, especially in our post-pandemic world. Personally, the pandemic was the first time I had experienced such strong emotions. As a result, I have picked up several different coping mechanisms and self-care strategies that have helped me maintain better mental health and become a better version of myself. 

Our mind and body are connected in more ways than we can imagine, which is something I wish I had realized sooner. After a long, stressful day of school or work, the best way I can relieve the tension in my body and rid my mind of anxious thoughts is through exercise. Exercising can be anything from going on a 10 mile run or a 10 minute walk, but whatever it is, moving your body is key. In the recent months I have found a new love for running, whether that is running outside through the forest preserves or on my treadmill at home.

 From a scientific standpoint, exercising is beneficial because it reduces stress hormones and increases the production of endorphins in your brain, which are chemicals that improve your sense of well-being and trigger positive emotions, according to Mayo Clinic. Incorporate exercise into your daily lifestyle and take advantage of those free endorphins!

I think many people, especially my age, overlook the importance of having routines. I know this is difficult with having school everyday and various activities afterwards, but maintaining morning or night routines help create feelings of comfort and satisfaction, while reducing anxiety. These routines do not have to be as long and methodical as you would think; it can just be a few simple things you do each night that help you wind down. 

At the end of my days, I like doing the same things to help ease my mind. I have always been someone that showers at night, and I have noticed this significantly calms me down and leaves me feeling refreshed before bed. Having a skin care routine is not only important, but makes you feel clean and that you are doing something nice for yourself. Skin care does not need to be a 10 step process, and instead can be fairly simple. For me, I just use simple face washes and moisturize, but I am always feeling better afterwards. When you take care of your body, you are also taking care of your mind. 

I know this has been said an annoying amount of times, but staying off your phone before bed is truly a game changer in getting better, higher quality sleep. I recommend at least putting it away for 30 minutes before bed. An alternative to watching Netflix or scrolling through TikTok until you fall asleep is reading. Your eyes will be more relaxed, and in turn you will fall asleep faster. Creating a stress free environment at night will make you more well-rested and give you more energy to tackle the day ahead. 

We all go through different things at different points in our lives, and it is important we know how to take care of ourselves so that we can continue to be successful each and every day. When practicing self-care regularly, you will begin to notice your stress and anxiety levels lowering, making each day more enjoyable. For many years, I had failed to notice how much I was focused on helping and pleasing others, and not helping myself. 

Building a better relationship with yourself is crucial to maintaining your happiness and peace, and all of that starts with simple self-care strategies. There are so many different ways to help yourself, and it is vital to find the ones that fit best with you.