This is a huge topic for me.
Ever since I was a wee seventh grader, I’ve had self-esteem and social anxiety issues.
Now, I know almost every human age twelve and older has – or still does – struggled with the topic of self-love at some point.
When I was younger, my anxieties and embarrassments generally stemmed from my outward appearance: acne, weight gain, facial features, hair color (teen angst has no boundaries), clothes, status etc.
Towards the end of my high school career, my self-esteem woes graduated to feeling uncertain about my personality, mental health, intelligence, and my ability to make connections with others.
I’m happy to say that I’ve come a long way since those days. I now choose to put my energy towards working creatively, taking care of my mind and body and helping others… though some sour thoughts definitely still creep up on me now and then.
The vast majority of my negative self talk now stems from my physical and emotional ailments. As ironic as it is, a lot of my stress and anxiety actually comes from… well… stress and anxiety!
For example, something will arise in my surroundings that will trigger a wave of anxiety in my body. Not only am I anxious about this thing that’s happening, but I’m also anxious about the fact that I’m anxious!
“What’s this doing to my adrenals?”
“Why can’t I get rid of these feelings?”
“Is this what’s causing my stomach issues?”
“If I can’t stop feeling stressed I’ll NEVER heal….”
These are all thoughts I often experience when I’m feeling any sort of emotion one might describe as “negative” or “painful”.
Aside from emotional ailments, my physical dis-eases also stress me the heck out on a consistent basis. If I have a stomach ache, I’ll start worrying about what I might have done to cause this discomfort, how I can get rid of it and why I was cursed with gut issues.
And what do you know? We’re back at square one, and the cycle continues.
Pain leads to stress, which leads to more stress, which leads to more pain, which leads to even more stress!
I call these my “ailment anxieties”.
I know more people than I could ever imagine also go through similar processes.
While I’m still cradled in the depths of my self-healing and self-loving journey, I’ve found a few helpful tools to cope with the physical and emotional insecurities I go through.
Hopefully they’ll help you too!
Self care is key.
One thing that can seriously help when you’re feeling down about the state of your mind and/or body is to pamper yourself. If you’re at home, put on some of your favorite positive music, brew yourself a hot cup of decaf tea or ask a loved one to make one for you, put on a soothing face mask and inhale some essential oils.
If food is a comfort factor for you (it most certainly is for me), you could even make a healthy version of your favorite treat. This could be a mug of hot cocoa, a home-made muffin (or two), a quick bowl of blender banana nice cream or my personal super easy favorite, a chunk of raw vegan chocolate. I will always recommend staying low-to-no added sugar with any recipe, especially if you struggle with anxiety, and ideally grain or at least gluten-free!
Feelin’ clean is a dream!
Sometimes I just feel uncomfortable in my body. This could be at the end of a rough day, after an attack of some sort of dis-ease related pain, or just when I’m feeling down about myself for some reason or another.
One guaranteed way to feel at least a little bit better is to get squeaky clean! For me, there’s nothing quite as lovely as the feeling of putting on some clean, comfy clothes after a cleansing shower or bath. I’ve never once stepped out of a hot, steamy, essential oil enhanced shower and said to myself, “I feel way worse now”.
Watch something that makes you laugh.
This may seem counter-productive or like an escape of sorts, but it works extremely well for me – especially when I’m really going through it. For example, I suffer from dysmenorrhea, or debilitating menstrual cramps, as well as PMS symptoms created by the devil himself. Watching some of my favorite YouTube comedians and laughing for a while really helps me to lift the blues.
While I try not to make this a habit, it’s a wonderful tool and I’m so grateful for it. If YouTube isn’t your thing, maybe reading an uplifting book, re-watching a favorite childhood movie or diving back into your favorite Netflix series might hit the spot.
Write down 10 (or more) things you love about yourself.
This tool is great regardless of if you’re feeling not-so-hot… or not! Reminding yourself why you’re awesome can help reset your subconscious mind to having positive feelings around you and your body. It was difficult for me at first… but after I found three things I loved – or even just liked – about myself, they started flowing easier. Just grab a pen and paper and write away! I like to include at least a couple of notes about my physical body and how much I appreciate that it’s working so hard to keep me alive, even though I may not be feeling my best at that moment.
Practice some gentle yoga or meditation.
Even just fifteen to thirty minutes of gentle yoga or meditation can really help remove one from ones anxieties and worries.
My favorite way to soothe my mind quickly is to lay flat on my bed, a yoga mat or couch, close my eyes, and count from one to a hundred. As I do so, I visualize that with every twenty seconds I count, one part of my body is just becoming empty space. I start from my feet and work up to my shoulders, all the way to the top of my head.
This really helps me calm down and relaxes my entire body. I usually notice a lot of tension release in the form of twitches and tingles when I practice this meditation!
Absorb some magnesium.
If you aren’t already familiar with magnesium, it’s a magical mineral that can seriously promote a sense of tranquility and well-being. It helps to calm the nervous system, release tension in the muscles and ease anxiety.
My favorite ways to use magnesium is in the form of topical magnesium chloride spray, as well as magnesium chloride bath flakes. If you feel like you need a particularly large dose of calm, add 1/3 to 1/2 a container of magnesium chloride flakes into a bath, or in a bucket to soak your feet. There are also magnesium drink mixes and capsules, but I find topical application works much quicker.
So there you have it!
Those are a few of the things that I practice to help me cope with my “ailment anxiety”.
If you have any questions or just need someone to talk to, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram!
Peace & Healing,
xoxo – Mackenna