When you’re battling anxiety, it can feel like your brain is on overdrive, reminding you of all the things you need to do, issues you need to worry about, and problems that need solving. And while there’s certainly no shortage of expert-backed ways to combat anxiety, Tia Mowry recently shared her own recommendations for quieting a busy mind. Spoiler alert: It involves cosying up on the couch.
In a recent interview with Bustle, the mom of two opened up about how she’s been coping with anxiety throughout the pandemic. Over the past year, she’s launched a vitamin and supplement line, started a cookware and dinnerwear company, and established a multi-year licensing deal for her YouTube series, so it’s not that shocking to learn that Mowry was, in her words, “one of those people” who felt compelled to stay quite busy during all that extra time at home.
Tia Mowry’s way of coping with anxiety
“A lot of people were being overly productive during quarantine, almost like a defence mechanism,” Mowry told Bustle. “I was absolutely one of those people, but in time, I learned that being non-productive was being productive, in a way. I learned how to relax and prioritise self-care, whether it was meditating, taking a nap, or indulging in some red velvet cupcakes. Once I started to focus on that, I had a better grasp of my day-to-day, which made me feel less anxious.”
Mowry went on to explain that it was a friend’s sage wisdom that helped her realise that rest could actually be the antidote to her anxiety. “She said, ‘When you injured yourself as a child, whether it was a broken ankle or a scraped knee, you gave yourself time. You were forgiving. You didn’t rush the healing process. You trusted the process, and you allowed yourself to heal,'” shared the Sister, Sister alumna.
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It can feel particularly counterproductive to stop and slow everything down when your brain seems to be rattling off a never-ending to-do list. Not to mention, of course, the fact that taking time to rest can feel like an incredibly challenging task when your mind is racing. And the thinking makes sense: Why press pause when the one thing you can control (which, in turn, should make you feel calmer) is crossing things off said list? But just as you have to take rest days from exercise to help your body recover, thereby preventing injury and rebuilding strength, you have to give your brain the same opportunity for recovery and to be nurtured — just as Mowry’s pal pointed out.
Before you follow in Mowry’s footsteps, however, know that scrolling through social media while re-watching The Office doesn’t really count as the effective break your mind needs to feel better. True rest often involves going device-free and sitting with your thoughts instead of staring at multiple screens to allow your brain to enter the default mode network (DMN). The DMN switches on — and, thus, effectively recharges your brain — when you’re not actively focusing on or engaging in the outside world.
“It creates rejuvenation in the brain, when you can chew on or consolidate information and make meaning out of what’s going on in your life,” Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, EdD, an associate professor of education, psychology, and neuroscience at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute, previously told Shape. “It helps you make sense of who you are, what actions to do next, and what things mean, and it’s linked to well-being, intelligence, and creativity.”
And good news: You can achieve this rest by simply taking a walk in nature or letting your mind wander while reading (hey, it happens!). Each person’s rest needs will look different, and what is restorative to some might be too stimulating for others. For example, Mowry shared that one way she was able to press pause and destress was by meditating — a tactic that’s often recommended by pros, as studies show that focusing on the present or one thing, in particular, can give your brain the chance to settle down.
Either way, Mowry offered up some more solid advice on how true rest — whatever it looks like for you — involves taking things minute by minute. “Don’t get too ahead of yourself,” she said. “Focus on taking one step at a time and putting one foot forward in front of the other. Forgive yourself for feeling the way you feel. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed. Know that eventually this too shall pass, and that everything will be OK.”
For the actress, learning how to re-centre came with some seriously big rewards. “The biggest positive was spending quality time with my family,” she told Bustle of her husband, Cory Hardrict, and two children, Cree and Cairo. “Prior to 2020, I never spent that much consecutive time with them. There was so much self-care and healing and communicating on a deeper level with my husband and children. I’m very much a go-getter, but taking care of yourself is important if you want to continue doing what you love. The pandemic helped me to find that dance, and now I can say with confidence that I’m in control.”
This story first appeared on www.shape.com
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