Hey everyone! Happy Monday! I am officially six days away from graduating, and I can’t believe it. This is undoubtedly one of the most stressful times of my life. There has been, and there will continue to be, a crazy amount of change over the next few months and my anxiety has been a lot to handle. This week, I’ve decided to share a more personal post about my favorite self-care tips & give you a little insight into my history with anxiety.

These self-care tips are light and fun, and they are perfect for temporary relief from stress. I do want to put it out there, though, that self-care is more than just bubble baths and watching your favorite Netflix shows. If you are suffering from a mental illness, then you should definitely consider seeking professional help. I have, and it has totally changed my life in the most positive way.

My experience with anxiety

I’ve dealt with what is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder for almost my entire life. Although everyone experiences some sort of anxiety (whether it’s the night before an interview, a blind date, a big exam, etc.), not everyone has a diagnosed anxiety disorder. These are two completely different things. The list of anxiety disorders is extensive, but a quick google search can quickly introduce you to a number of them. The Cleveland clinic defines GAD perfectly: “This disorder involves excessive, unrealistic worry and tension, even if there is little or nothing to provoke the anxiety” (Clevelandclinic.org).

I first realized I had anxiety back in high school. I would panic regularly about things out of my control- whether or not people liked me, my grades, rifts with friends, my future, my ability to make a difference in the world, etc. The list goes on and on. This type of panic isn’t your everyday worry, it is a sense of absolute fear over a number of different topics. I used to skip school, leave social events early, skip practice, etc. because I was so panicked. Flash forward to senior year of high school, and it was worse than ever because of the impending doom of graduation and picking a college. I straight up could not go to any public place without having a panic attack and leaving.

I sought help during my freshman year and went to counseling on and off until senior year when I had to make the decision to get on medication to help ease my panic attacks. I’m still on medication today, and it helps me manage my GAD and panic. It is not a simple solution, nor is it a magic pill that fixes all of my problems, but it allows me to live life without worrying about breaking down in the middle of the mall or grocery store.

I’m sharing this little bit of my life not to ask for pity or for you to feel sorry for me. Rather, I’m sharing it because everyone has their own cross to bear and this one is mine. I hope that someone reading this feels less alone.

Back to self-care tips…

Now that my anxiety is stabilized, I have a better understanding of my emotions. During times of change, our minds sometimes can’t seem to settle down, and we need to actively choose to de-stress. When this happens, I like to make sure that I plan time for me. This is a way to re-charge, fill up your glass, decompress, or whatever you want to call it! It ensures that you don’t get too burnt out and you learn what helps you feel fulfilled. Self-care is different for everyone, and it’s important to remember that this is not a permanent fix for a prolonged health condition, like mental illness. If you feel like you are suffering, you do not have to suffer alone! Reach out to the people around you and ask for assistance.

It’s not always easy to put yourself first, so here are a few tips that have helped me!

girl sitting on a bed in a white robe

Reward yourself

After a particularly long week of work or school, I like to reward myself with some sort of treat (thanks for introducing this to me, Mom!). This can be ordering anything from ordering your favorite food, going out to eat with friends, binging your favorite show (helllooo, Game of Thrones), or going to the gym.

When you have a reward to look forward to, it makes the week go by faster and helps you feel like you are working towards a tangible goal. My personal favorite rewards include ordering food or going out to eat with Josh.

Plan a specific time that is just for you

What time of the week is your favorite? Is it a quiet Sunday morning, or a chill Friday night? Whatever it may be, carve out that time as “me time” and say no to other plans. Remind yourself that you are busy if anyone asks you for a favor or to hang out. You HAVE to put yourself first sometimes.

Have a good morning routine

I am definitely not a morning person, and everyone who has ever lived with me can attest to this. However, I do love a good morning routine! Since the rest of the world functions on an 8-5 schedule, you probably do too. Before you start your workday, take time in the morning to do something for yourself. Whether this is enjoying a cup of coffee, going to the gym, or listening to a podcast, make sure you set aside time in the morning to reset and get ready for the day. This may involve getting up a little earlier than normal, but it is definitely worth it as it sets the pace for the rest of the day.

Get organized

This might not be everyone’s #1 form of self-care but it is important to lower stress. Check out an older post of mine here for some easy steps to get organized quickly.

If you get organized and make a list of your priorities, your workload will be much easier to handle.

Move!

As Elle in Legally Blonde once said “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”

But for real, moving your body for just 30 minutes a day has incredible benefits for both physically and emotionally. You don’t have to have a super crazy workout at the gym to reap these benefits. Even a walk around the block is good for your mind and body.

That’s it for this week, guys! Mental illness is real for so many Americans. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. AND, don’t forget to take some time for self-care every single day. It will be worth it in the long run. 🙂

xoxo, Ali

P.S. Next week my blog post will be a little later because this upcoming Sunday evening is a graduation, but I will definitely have something up!