Civil rights activist Audre Lorde’s most famous quote is “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence; it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” The world demands too much of all of us with too little time to do everything required, so it is a radical change in behavior to perform simple acts of self-love and mindfulness.

“Anxiety disorder is the most common psychiatric disorder of any age group, from teenagers, adults, to geriatric patients,” said Dr. Mohammed Molla, joint chair of Psychiatry for Kern Medical and Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. “Fear is something that is a known threat. Anxiety is dealing with unknown threats and these thoughts can be rational and sometimes irrational. When anxiety becomes overwhelming to a point, it will conflict with your personal, interpersonal, social and work life.”

“Stress and anxiety are the foundations that lead to bigger issues like muscle tension, headaches, panic and restlessness,” said Roger Perez, public information officer for Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. “The more you can do in the prevention realm, you’re actually saving on health care costs because you are taking care of the problem before it becomes a larger one.”

Schedule your anxiety

Molla suggests scheduling the time to worry, even prescribing relaxation techniques to patients.

“Sit down for an hour, not before bedtime, and try to think about the problems you are trying to solve,” he said.

This allows you to engage with your feelings and then disengage when worry time is up. During this time, ask yourself: “What exactly am I feeling? What externally is making me feel this way? What in my past do these stressors remind me of?”

The act of verbalizing or even writing down these ideas can be both a therapist and a remedy.

Learn and teach others how to be in touch with current feelings

“Mindfulness means living in the current situation. Most of the time we are worried that something is going to happen next,” said Molla.

Expecting a certain outcome will lead to disappointment and frustration, but without expectations, you will always be satisfied.

“If you are smelling a flower and if you go in with zero expectations, whatever you smell you will enjoy,” Molla said. “Walking into each situation without expectation will keep you in a calm place.”

Molla says that children learn everything from the adults in their lives and social learning theory explains how anxious behaviors can be passed down.

“If the parents are worried, the kids learn how to worry about minor things,” he said.

Parents who take the time to relax are more likely to have children who cope in the same healthy ways.

Treat your body like the temple it is by adapting small lifestyle changes.

Exercise is the best medicine by far, and Kern Behavioral Health is working to improve patient outcomes through yoga.

“It is pretty well-documented that exercise and yoga really help to reduce stress and anxiety,” said Perez. “We push yoga practice and are giving pre- and post-stress tests to our clients. You can see levels of stress going down with just one session of yoga, but that applies to any kind of exercise.”

Vigorous exercise not only pumps mood-boosting endorphins through your body, putting yourself through a rigorous workout can teach you how truly strong and resilient you are. Exercise is taking the time to care for yourself, and your mind and self-esteem get stronger as well as your body. 

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