5 self-care tips to combat anxiety

Hi friends,

I hope that you are well. And I hope that your year is starting well. Can you believe that the first month of the year is practically over? This year is moving quickly. I’m coming to you today to address something that many of us have experienced at one point or another. It creeps up out of nowhere and rears its ugly head, oftentimes leaving us in tears, feeling frazzled and scared. This monster is called anxiety.

In the last year of my life, I have had to battle anxiety linked to stress. As someone who can only remember one anxiety attack in the first 25+ years of life, this was something that confused me. However, I was fortunate to quickly find some self-care tips that have helped me tremendously. Scroll down to learn more.

Write scriptures & affirmations

I was home one weekend back in December on the phone with my fiancé and I felt my anxiety try to pull a surprise attack. I let him know what was happening and decided to get off the phone. I felt tears coming and did not fight them, while quickly pulling out my journal and Bible. I began to write down every scripture I could find about peace and mental health. Although my journal was soaked with tears, I quickly realized that which every scripture I wrote, I felt the weight lifting. In total, I jotted down around seven scriptures before I felt calm. In that moment, the power of God’s word was more real to me than ever. I went on with my day, which meant going to church where I was able to worship God. This worship was a soothing balm to my weary mind just when I needed it. There are several websites that make compilations of these scriptures if you find yourself wanting to read or write them as well.

Pray out loud

Another great strategy I have is praying audibly. This has been especially helpful for me when I have been feeling anxious while driving in the car. Heavy traffic and long commutes are so bad for me. I learned this in the car one day after work, while driving to go handle something for my wedding that had to be done by 6 pm. I was driving for over an hour when I finally began to cry. I had a lot on my mind and I finally started to feel it. I turned off the radio and began praying to God for relief of these feelings. I reminded God what His word said about keeping me in perfect peace. I thanked Him for his ability to do this and for the sound mind He had given me and I thanked Him for being my safe place. The longer I prayed, the less anxiety I felt. After a few minutes, I was back to normal.

Take an hour long, uninterrupted bath

As someone who has always found joy in doing something productive, the last few years have been about learning to relax. My roommate still tells me that I don’t know how to rest. Even when I don’t feel well, I find myself reading, watching something educational, etc. However, I have learned that relaxing helps to keep my anxiety at bay. One of my favorite ways to relax is to simply take a hot bath for an hour. This means phone off, light music, essential oils and dim light. There’s nothing significant about the amount of time, except the fact that it is my time and no one else’s. This bath always leaves me feeling refreshed physically, mentally and emotionally.

Set strict “no work” hours

I am a recovering workaholic. I have been in my job at ungodly hours consumed in work. And for someone like me, this is easy because I love to work. However, I’ve learned that too much work creates real issues. I have always subscribed to the idea of the Sabbath, because God rested for 24 hours on day 7 while creating the Earth. If it’s good enough for Him, it is good enough for me. But I’ve realized that just resting during Sabbath hours is just the minimum. In order to keep my anxiety low, I need to leave work at a decent hour daily, go home and do something for me. This could be sitting down and eating a healthy dinner, exercising, watching a show I like, reading a chapter in a book, reading my Bible, listening to a podcast or talking on the phone. It doesn’t matter what I do. What matters is that I do not give my entire day to someone else’s dream. I matter more.

Talk to someone you trust

Everyone should have a safe place to take their thoughts and feelings. Humans are likened to a steaming pot that has a lid on it. If the lid is not lifted, it will explode from the pressure. When I felt myself under pressure, I was blessed to have people who encouraged me to get help. With the encouragement of my fiancé, my sister and a counselor friend of mine (Love you, Courtney!), I saw a therapist for the first time in October. My therapist has been the single best investment I have made into myself in a very long time. She has taught me to give myself credit for things, to look at situations differently and that my feelings about certain situations are valid. She has also helped me to not cripple those around me by pouring all of my feelings into them. My family and friends love me deeply, but they are not trained to handle any of the problems I was having. It would have likely hurt them to help me. Many of us walk around with wounds that we don’t even know we have until they are discovered by someone who has been trained to help heal us. Forget about what other people may think and do what will help you live an abundant life. If you have ever considered talking to a therapist, I would highly recommend doing it.

If anxiety has found its way into your life, it doesn’t have to stay there. Give these tips a try and let me know in the Comments if they are of any value to you.

Until next time,

Brittany

4 ways minimalism has improved my life

Happy New Year, friends! I hope that your year has started out well. I wanted to take a moment today to talk about a lifestyle change that has benefited me greatly and to share some resources on how you can learn more about it.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines minimalism as “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.” Around seven months ago, I began to explore minimalism without really even knowing what it was. My teaching job had ended for the school year so I was looking forward to a summer to work on other projects. When I first stayed home for a couple days, I started to feel overwhelmed in my own space. Generally when I am working, I am able to tune things out that bother me and just do what must be done. But when I finally had those first few days to myself, I knew that I wasn’t at peace with my surroundings and that I was actually somewhat anxious. This is when I started to declutter my space and look for resources on how to do so efficiently. This opened the door to me finding and adopting minimalism. As I’ve explored this lifestyle over the past 6 months, I’ve started to see many benefits.

I spend less time getting ready & tidying up

Prior to decluttering and adapting to a more minimalist lifestyle, tidying up used to take me a lot of time each day. When getting ready for work, I would pull out so many tops, pants and shirts. Then I would pull out different pairs of shoes, going carefully through several pair before rushing out the door, leaving all of the items I didn’t choose on my bed or floor. Upon returning home, I would be annoyed by having to put these items back before I could relax. Now, I have fewer items to choose from so this process is nowhere near as taxing as it used to be. I simply take out a top or bottom that I love, match it with shoes I love wearing and get out of the door. Even if I do take out multiple items, it is generally much less than I used to pull out. When you have less to start with, there are fewer items to put back.

I experience more peace & rest in my own space

Last year, I vowed to create spaces in my home that would allow me to experience peace and to connect with God without interruption. When I decided to pursue minimalism, I read the book “Spark Joy” by Marie Kondo. In the book, Kondo describes how important it is to be surrounded by items that quite literally “spark joy” for you. As I pared down my items, I held every one, asking myself if it was something that I truly enjoyed. What I learned was that many of the items I had were being kept out of obligation, guilt or security. After the first round of letting to of things that held no value to me, I immediately felt more at peace in my space. I attribute this to the fact that virtually every item that was left in my possession was something that I really, really loved or needed.  I am now able to read, study, pray, work and enjoy company without feeling self-conscious about the things in my space. It has brought me much more calm.

It encourages me to make sustainable choices

After I started living with less, I began thinking about what would happen to all the items I no longer needed. Would someone actually purchase the items I donated to thrift stores? Now I was concerned about where these items would go, what role they would play in lives and what role they played in the life of its maker before getting to me. A few months back, I stumbled upon a documentary on Netflix called “The True Cost.” This documentary explored how cheaply made items impact the people who make them, the environment and how American consumerism (that is at an all-time high) is driving this industry. Fast fashion, one of the major causes of this problem, is one that I have supported. It’s not that I didn’t know that cheap items don’t last, (my grandmother was telling me that years ago) but more so that I didn’t realize how large of an effect they would have on the environment. Now that I am aware of this issue, I can ensure that the items I purchase are long-lasting, won’t be a major detriment to the environment when I am done with them and that the people who create them are supported the way they need to. If you see me in Target, don’t flog me. 🙂 Just know that I am still learning about the sustainable options that are available.

It helps me to spend wisely

Prior to becoming a minimalist, I loved buying things. For me, this started in high school when I first began to make what I would call “significant” money. I remember being so excited that I could pay for my own clothes and shoes, and literally started buying a pair of shoes each month when I could. It wasn’t that I needed a new pair of shoes each month, but I loved the attention having a great pair of shoes would bring when I wore them out with friends, to church or to an event. This habit didn’t last very long (as my college expenses didn’t allow such spending), but after college I started to see this habit come back. After my first year of work, I started to pare down on my clothing spending, falling out of love with the shopping habit. But every now and again, there would be that one pair of shoes or nail polish or book that I just had to have. As a Christian, I believe that I should have self-control over every area of my life, including my spending. Minimalism has helped me to ask the important questions regarding what I purchase like: “do I need this?” “how many times will I use it?” or “do I already own something that can serve the same purpose?” Minimalism helps me to be a better steward of the resources God has given me.

If you are interested in learning about this lifestyle, I have linked several resources to the Minimalism page in my Resource Library. If you decide to declutter or explore minimalism, please let me know. I would love to hear more about how it has impacted your life in the Comments section.

Thanks for reading,

Brittany