Self-Care When You’re Not Your Best Self How to stay self-caring in times of stress and anxiety.


Hello self-care babes. How is the holiday season treating you thus far? For some, it’s a joyful and exciting time; for others, it’s a stressful and depressing time; for still others, it’s a little of all of that. Be sure to check in with yourself and examine your wants and needs, be sure to sleep, and be sure to nourish yourself.

Full disclosure: These have been a rough few months for me. I struggle with anxiety and it’s gotten the best of me lately, decreasing my self-care practice enormously. When I’m anxious, I call on my trusty logic to ask if there is something specific causing my anxiety or if it is generalized anxiety. This questioning can help: Simply examining yourself is a nice little self-care gesture. (“Hey, I’m here for you—what’s up?”) Read further for simpler self-care actions you can take during times of anxiety, stress, depression, etc.

Five senses test

 My smart babe of a friend Mandy May taught me this trick: Call on your senses in moments of high anxiety or stress. Pause, breathe and identity five things you smell, five things you hear, five things you see. That’s it. For a few peaceful minutes, you’re focusing on other stuff. Maybe you’ll feel better, maybe you won’t. It’s worth a try!

Let it go

Oh boy. So much easier said than done. Let’s try using the imagination (credit to Emily for sharing this tactic with me): When something is truly bothering you, close your eyes and imagine a noisy little brook ushering water. Then watch a leaf fall into the water. Place your worry on that leaf; let it float away from you. Move on.

Make your bed

 This one comes straight from my mother’s mouth: “Make your bed.” (For those of us lucky to have our own to make.) Even if it’s not making the bed, the point is to do something nice for future you. Lay out your clothes the night before. Make lunches for the week on Sunday. Place a bookmark in your book. Write a note to yourself (“You’re so intelligent, it’s bananas!”) and stick it to your computer to find at work the next day. Place a bottle of wine and a glass on the counter before you leave for work.

End game

A lot of people will not like this piece of advice, but oof, does it comfort me. A lot. During overwhelming times, every once in awhile I’ll allow the thought, Well, I’m going to die eventually. How much does this actually matter?” This is especially helpful at work, because work isn’t everything. It’s important and it’s enabling, but it’s not everything.

Tell someone how you feel

 This action has been particularly difficult for me lately, as I navigate the lovely but complicated waters of a relationship. However, as Oprah advises, we should definitely live our truths. Even when you’re insecure about your insecurities, being open and vulnerable and letting someone know that you’re struggling is so, so courageous. Like, big time. Plus, we can’t harbor all those big, uncomfortable thoughts in our heads all the time! Let them out. Writing it down helps, but there is definitely a specific release and comfort in telling a friend, lover, family member, etc. how you feel (if they themselves are not too overwhelmed and are able to receive your head and heart stuff).

Make something

Bake a pie. Write a story. Collage. Send a note. Make someone’s day. Make tea. Start a puzzle. Have an orgasm. Finish a book. Make a doctor’s appointment. Knit a scarf. Braid a friendship bracelet. Build a circuit board. Get a high score. Make lasagna. Finish a long walk. Post on Instagram. Water a plant. Combine yogurt and granola.

Try this: Take out a pot, fill it halfway with water, place grapefruit and orange and clementine peels along with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon and a few whole cloves in the pot. Let it simmer. Inhale. (But don’t leave the burner on too long!)

Thanks to the Self-Helpless Podcast for the following quote: “You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.”

Love it. You come first. Always.

Keep warm and trust your gut,

Mary Adelle

Mary Adelle is a poet, a co-host on Give Me the Deets podcast, and the co-curator of Babe Press. She is passionate about taking care of herself and taking care of others. You can email her at [email protected]

Image courtesy of @theblissfulmind
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  1. Keep doing good things….Smile, Peace! You write in a wonderful way as you get your point across to many people that need this exact piece of advice. I thank you.

  2. I like the snippet about being good to your future self! When I remember to do those things I always forget how good it feels!


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