As someone who has dealt with anxiety off and on throughout her life, I’ve tried nearly every trick in the book to help manage it. One of the most common remedies I’ve been told, however, is meditation. While I think meditation is great and have personally witnessed its benefits, I’ve never been able to keep up a consistent practice. Everybody is different and meditation just never worked as a ritual I could keep up with. It came to the point where I was dreading my daily practice—causing me even more stress!
If you can relate, it may be time to explore some other activities that might work better to calm your mind. Keep reading for four self-care rituals to try, besides meditation.
Journaling steals the #1 spot on this list because it is one of the activities that has worked so well for me and has become a consistent part of my nightly bedtime routine. I first came across the practice when my friend gently suggested trying “Morning Pages”, a practice coined by Julia Cameron that encourages its followers to write three full pages of stream of consciousness (meaning, whatever pops into your head) first thing in the morning, every single day. While I’ve adapted the practice to be an evening ritual (that just works better for me and was the only way I could keep up the practice), I’ve found journaling my thoughts without purpose or intent—I sometimes literally write about lunch if that’s what first comes to mind–is an incredibly meditative and therapeutic way for me to release emotions and get out of my own head. Plus, all you need is a pen or pencil, a notebook, and 5 minutes of your day to do it.
2. Take a Walk in Nature
Moving to Los Angeles brought a lot of positive changes to my life, but one of my favorites is my ability to drive just mere minutes to the closest hiking trail and enjoy some much-needed time surrounded by dirt and trees. There’s something about turning your phone on Do Not Disturb, feeling the sunlight on your skin and relishing in the peacefulness of just being outdoors that never ceases to calm me down. But I’m a New York native, so I get it—we don’t always have access to nature, especially when living in a city. While finding yourself some green is a bonus, taking a walk outside anywhere will often do the trick. If you live in a city and find the hustle and bustle too distracting, try popping in some earbuds and listening to nature sounds or lyric-less music.
3. Read Something Inspirational
I’m embarrassed to admit this but at one point in my life Pinterest, yes the home-decor and recipe filled website, used to be a great source of relief for me when I was feeling stressed. I would do a quick search of inspirational quotes (yes I know it’s cheesy, but trust me on this) and it would only take reading a few of them before I started feeling more relaxed. Giving your mind something to focus on (in this case, reading something positive) is like giving a child a toy to play with while she’s getting a shot from the doctor. Your mind starts focusing on the positive words instead of the negative thoughts that are consuming your mind and causing your anxiety. If inspirational quotes feel too cheesy for you, try a book (nothing too charged!) or a podcast instead. Memoirs and self-improvement topics are often great resources for this strategy.
4. Diffuse Essential Oils
When I’m feeling particularly stressed or anxious, to the point where I struggle falling asleep, I always turn to my trusty essential oil diffuser. While I can’t attest that the essential oils scientifically reduce my anxiety, there is something about filling your bedroom with a calming scent like Lavender or Jasmine that just makes you feel more relaxed. It’s one of my favorite (and easiest!) calming rituals.