The first word my handsome husband ever taught me in Bulgarian was “relax,” which says a whole lot about me. I love doing projects, making plans, and always always always staying busy. I get twitchy if I sit for too long. We don’t own a T.V., so I’m constantly creating my own entertainment, whether through designing freebies, creating rustic signs, playing on social media, or cuddling with my sweet baby. (Usually, I’m doing the latter!) Over time, I’ve learned, though, that I’m the expert at running myself straight into the ground. I don’t even realize I’m doing it until I crash. And what does that crash look like? It’s not pretty. All my life, I’ve struggled with anxiety, and as an adult, I’ve had crippling episodes of panic attacks. Yes, I’ve spent more than a few nights curled on the bathroom floor, struggling for breath, as mascara ran down my face and into the folds of my neck. (I’m a super unattractive cryer.) My all time low? Postpartum, hands down. The rage of hormonal swings, coupled with the constant worry and fear for the new life I was meant to protect… UGH. Over this past year, I’ve tried to remain mindful to purposefully relax and create space to unwind, mentally, physically, and emotionally. How? There’s a number of go-to techniques that work for me, and I’m hopeful they’ll work for you too! Keep on reading for how to relax a frazzled mind and calm anxiety.
Breathe in a Soothing Mood
Whenever I’m feeling frazzled or need to calm anxiety, I burn essential oils in my home. Just by breathing in a calming fragrance, I’m able to breathe more deeply. By pulling more air into my lungs, I unclench a bit and release some of the stress winding me up. There are tons of different essential oils, with specific blends even marketed for relaxation, like this one for example for less than $10.
I usually put a few drops of Bulgarian rose oil into a candle, then burn the candle. (That’s an affiliate link, by the by! There are a few throughout this post.) As the flame heats the wick, the smell of roses release into the air, which smells so indescribably good. We actually bought ours while we were visiting my husband’s sister and grandparents overseas, and I savor each and every drop.y
Bring Calm into Your Home
When I’m feeling anxious or frazzled, piles of disorganized stuff can exacerbate my anxiety. Mountains of dishes in the sink, heaps of multicolored toy blocks, loads of unfolded laundry, these scattered things can really get me reeling. My husband and I do our best to keep things tidy. We take 10 minutes each night to put the dishes in the dishwasher and tuck the baby’s toys back in their storage cabinet. Sometimes these chores feel totally redundant, by the way. The dishes and toys will reappear like clockwork the next day. But taking a few minutes to clear clutter keeps the house from turning into a landfill and my anxiety at bay.
We’re also pretty selective with the things we bring into our home. The things we love, we hold onto; the things we don’t, we donate. We try to buy fewer, better-quality things so that we’ll have them for a long time. Coming home, I want to be surrounded by things that spark joy and feel beautiful, which brings serenity to my life. This idea of our belongings sparking joy is from Marie Kondo. If you haven’t yet read her book, check it out!
These gorgeous pillows, for example, from Shelby Dillion Studio add such a lovely touch to our couch. When I cuddle up, I appreciate the artistry that went into them; they feel so special. (But even more, they’re super durable, which is so helpful with the baby’s sticky fingers.) We hand make a lot of the furniture and decor in our home, so I really appreciate that these pillows were made by an artist and crafted with care.
Drink in Warmth
A third technique I use when I need to chill? Get toasty with a warm drink. Coffee always amps me up; so when I need to calm anxiety, I turn to tea. Lately, I’ve been using and loving this looseleaf tea from Yerba Buena Tea Company. A dear friend sent me 3 kinds to try: Elderberry Immunitea, No Worries, and Tumeric Lemon Ginger. The Elderberry Immunitea is so far my favorite! It has a slight sweetness and feels so soothing.
These teas are loose leaf, so you have to brew them a little differently than bagged tea. Rather than use a classic tea ball, I adore using this awesome tea infuser from the company For Life. You perch it in a mug, fill the mug with hot water, put a little lid on the infuser, and let it steep. Then, when the tea is ready, the lid turns into a little tray so the infuser cup doesn’t drip. It’s awesome. I bought this infuser cup three years ago when I was trying to get pregnant and drinking endless cups of fertility tea. For about $13, it’s definitely held its worth! (To be fair, the tea infuser doesn’t fit all mugs. If I want to use a huge mug, I’ll brew the tea in a smaller mug with a narrower mouth, then pour it into a big cozy mug.)
Loose leaf tea helps me unwind because the process to brew it requires mindfulness. You can’t rush how long the tea takes to steep. Brewing tea forces me to slow down. And the warmth of holding a hot mug or teacup helps my muscles to unwind a bit too.
Create a Mindful Moment
You’re probably beginning to see that, for me, relaxation requires me to “set the stage.” I purposefully choose what to smell, what to see, and what to drink. By engaging my senses, I get more in touch with my physical body and out of my head. Funny that getting out of my head actually helps with mindfulness. In actuality, doing these things helps me tap into a more centered part of my mind, the part that spins less, worries less, and plans less.
Music also helps me get centered. Whenever I’m working (and not in a meeting), I play Spotify on my Magicbox bluetooth speaker round the clock. My favorite playlists to relax are “Your Favorite Coffee House” and “Sleepy Morning Coffee.” What are yours? Have any other good recommendations? (That Magicbox speaker is awesome, by the way. It was only $30 bucks on Amazon and worth every penny. We didn’t want to pay for a Bose speaker, although we since got one as a Christmas present. I still use the Magicbox speaker in my office every day. It’s that little black box in the photo below)
When I really need a moment to check in with myself, I write in my Moleskin journal and let my anxious thoughts fly. If I’m so worried, frustrated, or stressed that I know a logical conversation won’t help, I turn to journaling. It’s my go-to place to unleash emotional turmoil. Honestly, I find just as much value reading through my old posts. My old entries show me that I’ve been struggling with anxiety for a long time and that my emotions are transient and temporary. Does anyone else journal? How do you use your journal?
Other ways I unwind? Hot bubble baths with lavender epsom salt, a glass of red wine, or a good book. When the weather is nice (which is unfortunately not too frequent in Baltimore), I love hiking or running outside. We have a Proform elliptical machine at home, and working out always calms me down. I’ll admit, though, that I don’t do it as often as I should. #momproblems
I hope this post was helpful for you, particularly if you landed on it by googling “how to calm anxiety,” which I’ve done countless times. I’d love to hear other ideas you all might have about how you calm anxiety and relax your frazzled minds. I know we’re all juggling so much! Leave a comment below. Let’s get a good list going!