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  • New Leaf Counseling Team

Self-Care to Help With Anxiety

When you hear "self-care", what comes to mind? Do you think about a spa day? A shopping spree? It's a phrase that gets thrown out a lot but what people are calling self-care as an attempt to calm anxiety, is arguably just temporarily numbing it and not allowing the anxiety to move through and past you. There is much more to self-care than just treating yourself and when you understand the different parts of self-care, it can be an incredibly helpful to combat anxiety.

Virginia Satir introduced the "Self-Care Mandala" that breaks down self care into eight sections to help individuals identify what areas they are attending to and what areas they need to give more attention. Here at New Leaf, we are going to introduce these categories and provide some examples for ways to practice self-care under each section. Every category can look different based on the individual so there is a lot of freedom to get creative and make this work for you.


Taking care of your mind is an important component of self-care. This can look a variety of ways based on the things that bring you joy. Taking on the task of learning something new that interests you is a great way to practice intellectual self-care. It, not only, opens the door for new experiences but it increases one's self confidence that they can learn new things and take on different challenges. In addition, reading and puzzle are another great way to stimulate the mind.


Food is what fuels our body. It has the power to keep us energized for hours or deplete us within minutes. Being aware of what you eat and drink it a great way to practice nutritional self-care. By making conscious choices about what we put in our bodies, we are sending the message to ourselves that we matter enough to consider what we consume.


Emotional self-care is a way of making space to feel what you need to feel. Too often we get caught up in our busy lives that we don't take time to process our emotions.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we often do without thinking, in an attempt to avoid feeling.

By taking time to access our emotions, we allow ourselves to feel and experience what we may be holding in. Our bodies weren't made to hold in emotions and doing that for too long can can take a toll on the human body. If you have a hard time accessing emotions, therapy is a great way to process repressed feelings in a safe space.


We are social beings, and while alone time is necessary to re-charge, socialization is essential to feeling connected to the world around you. Interactional self-care is making space to spend time with those that bring you joy. Find and surround yourself with people that know you and love you as a way to know and love yourself.


Finding ways to engage your five senses is a helpful self-care practice because it can be grounding and keep you rooted in reality. If you find yourself feeling anxious regularly and have a mind that wanders, engaging your sensing can a great regulating practice. An easy way to practice this is to go outside and listen to the sounds of nature, take in the sights and smells around you while feeling the grass on your feet. It won't take long for you to feel yourself relax into your environment and enjoy the moment of slowing down and taking in nature.


Spiritual self-care practices can look different for everyone. It can look like praying, reading your Bible, going to church. It could also be going for a walk on a trail and communing with nature. Anything that takes you outside of yourself and reminds you that you are not alone and that there is a vast universe around you can be a practice of spiritual self-care.


Contextual self-care is simply taking care of the spaces you find yourself in. This can look like rearranging your room, redecorating your office space, buying fresh flowers for your living room. By taking care of the spaces you find yourself in, you also take care of you. You have the power to create and enjoy a peaceful environment and will only benefit from doing so.


Physical is the last of the components of self-care. Similar to nutrition, by taking care of your body, you send a message that you matter enough to do so. When you move and exercise, you feel healthier, sleep better and can even burn off anxious energy.

We hope that breaking down the different components of self-care was helpful and that it gave you some ideas for how to practice self-care on a daily basis. If you feel low on energy or find yourself feeling more anxious than usual, check in with these self-care categories and see if there is an area that needs more attention. By becoming aware of the different ways you can take care of yourself, one's self-worth can increase because you are taking the intentional steps of self-care.

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