Whether you realise it or not, we all feel anxious at some point or another.
You can get anxious from exams, your 9-to-5 or even when finding out that your partner’s cheating on you.
In a bigger scheme of things, you can get anxious by looking at the news and seeing political turmoil everywhere, which would inevitably worsen the economic and climate crises.
I tried finding therapists to help me calm down but either I can’t find those with the speciality in dealing with eco- or world- anxiety or that they’re expensive. Mostly expensive.
I’m resorting to relatively cheaper or free alternatives.
If you’re a #cheapskate like me, this may help you too.
However, you do need to put in a lot of effort and understand that it may take you months to get to where you want to be.
So, where do you want to be?
FIRST, KNOW YOUR WHY
I always tell people to find their reason. And I don’t think people understand the importance of this in every single thing that they do.
I don’t think many people do stop and think about why they do what they do.
The reason why I want to create my self-care habits is so that I could control my anxiety and—by extension—my life.
I went through all that self-sabotaging and hating myself.
But at one point, I just got sick of feeling that negativity. And since I’m still alive (or not having the courage to commit suicide), I thought, “Wouldn’t it be better if I could have control over my emotions and actions so that I could contribute more positive energy to the world I’m temporarily living in?”
Ultimately, “Wouldn’t it be easier if I’d just be happy or positive?”
Being depressed or feeling shit every day took so much energy out of me.
Sure, being positive also would require some effort; but it’s a feel-good kind of effort.
At least that’s what I think, having experienced the two ends of my emotions.
So I need a self-care habit to control my negativity and elevate my positive side.
MY DAILY HABITS
1. Stretch Up
I’m not that kind of person who could just hop out of bed as soon as my eyes are opened. My friend Suba can do that. I can’t. Or rather, it’s just not how I roll (out of bed).
Instead, I’d stretch my body, hoping that it would elongate a few centimetres (spoiler: it doesn’t), and just relax on my back.
“Why would you want to keep relaxing after having just slept?”, you might be thinking.
Well, your mind didn’t sleep, not really. And I don’t really know where my mind goes when I’m unconscious. So that moment after just waking up, I’d observe the ceiling and get my mind into the present moment.
And then I do my ‘stretch-up’ which includes butt lift, cat-cow poses, hip circles, squats and upper body stretch. The first two I do on my bed before standing on the floor to complete the rest.
2. Breathwork & Intention Setting
While doing the stretch-up, I’d also focus on my breath. I know breathwork may mean differently but for now, that’s what it means to me. To just be conscious of my breath when I move my body. But after the stretch-up, I’d also take a few deep breaths to centre myself and set my intention for the day. It’s not exactly meditation but it’s just being aware of your breath and mind.
I learnt that thoughts disappear easily so I’d write down my intention for the day as well as any random thought that comes into my head in a journal. Currently, I do it digitally but you could also write it in a notebook. I’d journal again at night before I go to bed and that would mostly be about what happened during the day. I’m a memory hoarder, apparently.
I was brought up Muslim and I’ve come to appreciate the teachings, including the daily prayers. I believe that it’s important to set aside time to ground myself and thank the Master of the Universe for all the bounty in the world. But sometimes when I’m angry, it’s also an opportunity to be angry at God and then calm myself down and ask for forgiveness. Looking at this as a third person may be rather funny.
For me, prayer can be meditation, and meditation can be a thing of its own.
But no matter what, it’s a way for me to focus on my breath and tell my running thoughts to just walk calmly or take a breather. I’d meditate a few times a day for at least 5 minutes, as that’s usually the time I could spare. Sometimes I’d meditate longer if I’m really stressed out. So listen to what your body and mind need.
6. Core & Stretch Workout
This is something I’ve only started to incorporate in January. I struggled to keep this consistent but by Feb, it’s usually a daily thing. I may skip one day but that’s the most I’ll allow myself. This is a 20-minute routine that includes plank, right leg lunge/front split, left leg lunge/front split, side splits, and other stretches I feel like incorporating that day — each of those is done for 3 minutes. Then, I’d end it with breathing or meditation. As you can tell by now, conscious breathing is a big part of my daily activity.
7. Wind Down with Tea Tree Oil
I struggle to do a proper nighttime wind-down routine because I’d end up just reading articles or watching youtube videos on my laptop until I feel sleepy, which would usually be around 12am. Then, I’d just pee, brush my teeth and hop into bed. I’d do my final scrolling on Instagram because I’m semi-addicted. But I know that looking at screens late at night is not good for my eyes so I’m now trying to wean off of that detrimental habit.
So I’m glad that I got given a care package from The Body Shop Malaysia which includes tea tree oil. I’d rub a hand cream with a few drops of it onto my palms and add a few more drops into my diffuser to let the scent put me to sleep.
I’m going to keep working on no screens at least an hour before bed.
I also need to establish a better skincare routine. I’m only doing the very minimal with only face wash and moisturizer. I kind of stopped my skincare habit when I wanted to try to only get zero waste items. Since most scrubs and toners come in plastic tubes or bottles, and that I never really got around to create my own, I just abandoned them. So my next mission would be to easily acquire zero waste skincare products and actually use them.
Oh and I’d really like to learn more about sage and how to properly use it. I went to a community circle recently and they burnt sage and I loved the soothing scent.
Here’s to mental and physical well-being!