September 4, 2017

caring for myself when I'm really stressed out...

I'm an anxious person (and I'm talking big-time anxiety, with a few different "officially" diagnosed anxiety disorders, I take medication for it, I see a therapist...) and stress makes all of this worse for me, and there are some things in particular that can really stress me out.

And when I get stressed out, my anxiety can sky-rocket. Sometimes this is a gradual, creeping-up-on-me process, and before I know it I've spiraled into an anxious mess of myself. Sometimes my anxiety is at panic mode, or close to it, faster than I can blink an eye.

When something happens to a loved one, it can really stress me out...

Like in late July, when my husband's co-worker called in the middle of a Wednesday to tell me that my 66-year-old husband was being rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Like when my 88-year-old mother, who's in an assisted living facility and had a stroke in 2013 that has impacted her cognition and memory, had to be evacuated because of a hurricane (last year, Hurricane Matthew). Things like that.

Because one of my hugest anxiety triggers is healthy anxiety (not hypochondria but different), the health issues I've been dealing with can really stress me out.

When I watch or read an extra-for-me amount of news, it can really stress me out. It feels like a constant balancing act I do in trying to be informed but also not go into overwhelm and fear.

So those are some main examples.

How do I care for myself when I'm really stressed out?

Well, I've blogged about this a lot over the years, on this blog and my blog at Subtle Harmony, because dealing with anxiety and stress, and tapping into self care and soul nourishment... that's been a big focus of what I do and what I've shared in my work. So for anyone who has been familiar with those posts or my newsletters, pdfs, 15 For Me, Joy Connections, etc., this might sound like I'm being a broken record... but I believe it's so important to find what helps us deal with stress (and it can be different things at different times, so it's good to have a big toolbox to pull from), this is something I'll probably always be talking and writing about, broken record or not.

Here are a few of my go-to helpers when I'm feeling stressed out and caring for myself in the midst of it (which is the prompt today for the September blog-along I'm participating in with Effy)...

Getting grounded.

Whether it's going outside to stand, feet on the ground, or touching a tree or plants, while breathing in some fresh air - even if it's only for a few minutes - this can help me get grounded and centered. It can help me pull my energy from the anxious thoughts in my head, the stressed-out knot in my gut, and get more rooted and calm.


I'm a big believer in the helpfulness of essential oils for physical, emotional, and mental benefits. I put a calming, stress-reducing blend in a diffuser (whether a tealight oil warmer or a cool-air electric diffuser), or sometimes simply open a bottle a take a good whiff.

There are blends I use from various companies, and often I just blend my own - some of the oils most helpful for me with calming are frankincense, sandalwood, ylang ylang, lavender, bergamot, chamomile, neroli, melissa, vetiver, valerian.


I'm also a believer in the energy of crystals to help us. When I'm feeling stressed out, I often hold or carry (even if it's in my pocket) or wear certain crystals and stones that help me feel more grounded, centered, and calm - which, for me, translates to helping with anxiety and stress that I'm feeling.

Some of my favorites for this are black tourmaline, smokey quartz, rose quartz, lepidolite, and red jasper... although there are many others that help with this too.


Connecting with my creativity can help me when I'm feeling stressed. There have been times, especially last summer, when literally the only thing that completely helped the stress drain from me was standing at the canvas and painting.

Just chilling out.

Piling up on a big stack of pillows in bed and relaxing with a book or Netflix or dvds. Letting myself relax and get lost in a story I'm reading or watching. Letting myself not think about anything else. (Or doing my best to let myself.)


Yes, breathing. Because, when I'm stressed or anxious, I can realize I'm barely breathing, almost holding my breath, or not really exhaling.

So I bring my attention to my breath, I sometimes place my hand on my heart or my solar plexus, and I do some nice slow inhales and slow exhales.

And I tell myself that, in this moment, I am okay. And I tell myself all will be well. And I try to bring myself to a place of trust. And I breathe.

Spiritual connection.

Praying. Meditation. Spending time in spiritual communication and feeling that Divine presence.

Sometimes this can be a fairly lengthy stretch of time, but sometimes it's simply on-the-go as I'm in the car or in a moment.

(Whether it's this or something else I have or haven't mentioned, I think it's important to remember that there are so many things that can help us with stress that don't have to involve taking huge amounts of time away on our own - because sometimes, due to whatever else might be going on, we're not able to take a lot of alone time on a given day or during a given period. Also, there are so many things that can help that don't involve buying/spending.)

There are other "tools in my toolkit" but these are some of the main things I do to ride the wave, to get through stressful moments or weeks, to help myself when things start feeling overwhelming.

How about you? What helps you care for yourself when you're really stressed out? Leave a comment below if you'd like to share - I'd love to hear from you! ♥

(I'm blogging along with Effy this month! Want to join in? Just click here.)


  1. These are wonderful ideas for dealing with stress and anxiety! Thanks os much for sharing your ideas.

  2. <3
    I always love hearing your viewpoint. You always share something I find helpful.
    Thank you!

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Leslie! <3

  3. Thank you Gin! This is an important subject and it definitely needs to be at the forefront. Thank you so much for the wonderful list you have shared.

    1. I'm glad you liked the I shared, Ginette!

  4. Hey Gin, Your list is fabulous, you've really covered the bases xx

  5. Im in therapy too. You are not alone with anxiety. I try to focus on my breathing too. Its starting to really work.
    The anxiety isnt easy. But youve got some great tips for me. Thank you!

    1. I hope you find the tips helpful, Liv - anxiety is definitely not easy, and I'm sending lots of good thoughts your way as you deal with it. <3

  6. good ones ... and ones I reach for as well, especially aromatherapy ... I'm learning about crystals. Acupuncture is a go too as well. I've been twice a week since my son died.

    1. I've been wanting to get acupuncture - I'm especially wondering if it might help with my physical issues I've been having, but I know it helps emotionally too. Hopefully I'll one day actually make an appointment and get started with it. Sending so many good thoughts for you during this time. <3

  7. Thank you for sharing your list! It is very helpful.

  8. Beautiful blog. Lots of great stuff here.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog today.
    Much love and good wishes to you.

    1. Thank you! Much love and good wishes to you too!

  9. Great list of other things I can try without resorting to my go to junk foods.

    1. I go to junk foods too - I "comfort" eat sometimes, and especially on difficult days, although sometimes my anxiety makes me lose my appetite and I don't want to eat anything. I have no idea when it's one way for me at times, and another way at other times. But even with my lists of various tools, I still eat for self-comfort and self-soothing more than I wish I did. You're not alone with that. <3

  10. Replies
    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Judith-Ann!

  11. I too find it more stressful when things are happening to my loved ones than to me. I think it's that sense of no control, at least when things are happening to me, at the very least I can control the way I deal with them, but when they are happening to others I feel like I have nothing . . . So yeah, I recognise that.

    1. The thing about control is a *big* aspect of my anxiety. It's an area I'm actively working on but... yeah, it's a thing for me!

  12. Oh and I am a barefoot girl as much as possible. At home, at church, at the park, even in the mud! People often look at me as if I am weird, but I think keeping your shoes on when you can connect like that, even just for a few moments, is weird.

  13. Really wonderful list of tools. <3