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15+ Practical Self-Care Ideas to Keep Your Worry and Anxiety Under Control

These simple and practical self-care ideas will help tame your anxiety and keep your worry under control even during the toughest times. These are the ideas you can turn to when the world feels too scary.

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Let’s face it. These days, life is scary and overwhelming for all of us. A pandemic has thrown life as we once knew it out the window and now we live in a world of uncertainty. We don’t know when things will return to normal, if ever.

We need self-care now, more than ever, but this isn’t a job for a face mask. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and frightened by the world around you and by events in your own life, you need some self-care ideas that help you feel calm and in control. You need practical, unsexy self-care ideas.

Here are more than 15 practical and simple self-care ideas you can turn to when the world feels too scary to handle.

Make Your Bed

I’ve written before about the power of making your bed and I think it’s so important I include it on my self-care checklist. It really is one of the most powerful practical self-care activities you can do: it instantly makes your room look better and more organized which in turn helps lower your stress level. (Clutter literally raises our levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.) It’s a small win on which you can build other wins and even if the rest of the day remains stressful, easing into a bed that’s been made can help you sleep better at night.

Clean your sink

This is the companion to making your bed and for similar reasons. It’s a simple chore that people tend to leave undone, but getting the dirty dishes out of your sink and making your sink shine gives you a sense of accomplishment and can often provide you with the push you need to move on to another task and then another. Here are some great instructions on how to get that sink to shine along with more motivation on getting it done.

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A shiny sink does wonders to lift your mood and help you feel more in control.

Do That Thing You’ve Been Putting Off

We’ve all got that one thing on our To-Do List that we avoid and frequently they are really simple tasks. For example, I so hate making phone calls that I’ll procrastinate for weeks before I’ll do something like call the insurance company to make a policy change which will save me money. Rip off that band-aid and do that one thing. You’ll feel free and strong when you’re done.

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Do that thing you’ve been putting off and you’ll feel better instantly

Clean Out Your Purse or Your Junk Drawer

Does your purse weigh an extra five pounds from the weight of the loose change and CVS receipts you’re carrying around? Take a few minutes to clean it out and organize it so that you feel lifted up rather than brought down when you open it. Or clean out and organize your junk drawer and finally get rid of that collection of keys that don’t go with anything.

(Note: If you’re really feeling down, I wouldn’t recommend organizing your clothes or taking on any big projects. If you’re not feeling any happiness, you run the risk of deciding that nothing in your life sparks joy and getting rid of too much. And I don’t know who needs to hear this, but don’t cut your bangs.)

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This purse does not spark joy. Clean it out and you’ll feel better right away.

Wear Sunscreen Every Day

Your environment is important and so are you. When you get up in the morning and put on sunscreen, you’re saying to yourself that you care about yourself enough to take action so you don’t get skin cancer. That’s a powerful message to your subconscious. Bonus points for adding moisturizer first because now you’ve created a daily ritual of loving self-massage. Good job!

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Taking care of yourself sends a powerful message to your subconscious that you’re a valuable and important person

Write an Encouraging Letter to Yourself

You know best what you need to hear right now. Even if it feels fake and wrong and even if you don’t believe it, put yourself into the future and write yourself an encouraging letter from the perspective of your future self. Tell yourself that everything is going to work out and how it worked out for you. Keep the letter and reread it frequently. You may be shocked and how accurate it ends up being.

This is very similar to creating a vision board – an activity I’m very fond of. If you’re feeling pessimistic about your future, this is the perfect time to create a vision board for the life you want to create for yourself.

Dump Out All Your Negative Thoughts

If positivity seems too hard right now, then lean into your negativity by setting a timer and writing down all your fears, worries, and other negative thoughts for fifteen minutes. Be messy and don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or nice language. Really curse and yell on paper if that helps. At the end of the fifteen minutes, you can reread your writing if you like or just let it be. Tear up what you’ve written and throw it away dramatically. You’ll feel immediately lighter.

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Take 15 minutes to write down all your negative thoughts and then throw away the paper.

Go for a Mindful Nature Walk

Take 20 or 30 minutes to go for a solitary walk out in nature and leave your earphones out. Pay attention to the sights and sounds around you. Really listen to the sounds of the birds and the rustling of the leaves. Smell the fresh air. Stop to appreciate the beauty of the wild flowers. Take the time to feel gratitude for the beauty around you. If you find your mind wandering to your problems, simply guide it back to noticing your surroundings. At the end of your walk, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to return to the real world.

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In a mindful nature walk, you concentrate on the sights and sounds around you.

Perform a Simple Act of Kindness

If you can’t stop thinking about your problems, take a moment to lighten someone’s else’s burden. This might not be a good time to buy coffee for the person behind you in Starbucks, but there are still things you can do. You can, for example, send a quick email or make a phone call to someone you suspect may be lonely or struggling. Or drop off cookies or a meal to a friend who may be in financial distress. Or write a thank you note to someone who has helped you in the past. Studies have shown that acts of kindness help the mood of both the giver and the receiver. I know they help make the world a better place.

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Help make the world a better place by performing an act of kindness. You’ll make yourself happier as well.

Make a List

If you’re overwhelmed by everything you need to do or ideas you want to try, write it all down on a list. If you’re trying to keep it all in your head, you’re probably doing so by mentally repeating it to yourself which can keep you anxious and overwhelmed. If you’ve lost your job, for example, make a list of everything you need to do. If you don’t know what to do, start your list with “Research steps to take now that I’ve lost my job.” Get your thoughts down on paper so you can get them out of your head.

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If you’re so overwhelmed you don’t even know where to start, make a list of everything you need to do.

Do a Gentle Workout

If you don’t feel like jumping into a high energy routine, it can still feel soothing to move and get in touch with your body. This yoga routine from Yoga with Adriene is suitable for beginners and is designed to help you soothe your worry and anxiety.

Yoga for Vulnerability | Move #withme | Yoga With Adriene
Watch this video on YouTube.

Perform a Body Scan

Do you feel restless or like you want to eat all the food? Do you feel just kind of numb? Take a few minutes to perform a body scan meditation which will help you identify where you are holding your stress (you may not even be aware of it!) and relax your body.

Guided Meditation: Resting in a Sea of Presence, with Tara Brach
Watch this video on YouTube.

Relieve Your Anxiety with the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

Invented by Dr. Andrew Weill, this breathing technique really works at reducing the physical symptoms caused by anxiety.

How To Perform the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise | Andrew Weil, M.D.
Watch this video on YouTube.

Focus on the Present Moment

If you’re anxious about what might happen in the future, stop and focus on what’s happening right this moment. At this moment, are you safe? Do you have a home? Do you have food? Are you comfortable? As the saying goes, “The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality.” ~ Robert M. Pirsig

The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality." ~ Robert M. Pirsig
The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality.” ~ Robert M. Pirsig

 Try Some DIY Art Therapy

If you’re stressing out, try some DIY Art Therapy If you find an art or craft project you enjoy, you’ll be distracted while you’re working on it and you’ll experience joy and pride when you complete your project. I actually enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles so much, I can get into a flow state while working on one.
Other great projects ideas for stress relief include art journaling, crocheting, cross stitching, coloring in adult coloring books, scrapbooking, zentangle drawing.

By the way, my favorite jigsaw puzzles come from this company.

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The right hobby will soothe you and engage your mind.

Zone out with (The Best of) Social Media

Social Media has a bad reputation for passing on rumors and causing envy and it’s frequently well deserved but it can also be used for good. Use Facebook to reach out friends you haven’t spoken to in a while or dip into Instagram to follow some of the best accounts for self-care.Watch Something that Makes You Laugh. You can’t laugh and be anxious. Take a break and watch one of your favorite funny movies or try one of the movies from this list.
Or check out funny YouTube videos. I laughed until I cried at many of the videos in this article.

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Katy Kozee | Midlife Rambler
Katy Kozee | Midlife Ramblerhttp://www.midliferambler.com
Hi! I'm Katy and I started Midlife Rambler when my youngest child was a senior in high school. I was staring at the coming empty nest and wondering what was next for me. Does that sound like you? Then you'll love our community of fun, feisty women. We're looking forward to the next phase of our lives and talking about all the exciting (and sometimes a little scary!)Keep the conversation going! Hook up with me at my other hangouts.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I really enjoy your articles. The empty nest has hit me harder than I could have ever expected, and your blog has been very helpful. I just want to let you know that i am praying for you. I am from Upstate NY and also have family members in the city; I understand how overwhelming to have your grown children living there. Thanks for reaching out to the rest of us while you are going through so much personally.

    • Thank you for commenting Nancy. I’m so glad my blog has been helpful and thank you for praying for me. That really means a lot to me. I pray for my readers every day. I almost added to this post today – I got up this morning and did some skin care, including a sheet mask and it really felt good, so don’t forget, y’all – sometimes a sheet mask CAN be just the ticket.

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