Self-care techniques for life's anxieties

Caleb Walsh illustration

When literally everything feels like a source of anxiety and you don't have time to examine any real solutions to your problems because you're stuck in front of a screen 19 hours a day, slowing down for some self-care is of utmost importance. "Self-care" just means showing yourself you care, and in my family we show we care with cheap indulgences that feel good in the moment but make things worse in the long run. And for some reason they all involve consuming large amounts of garbage.

Anxiety: Political angst

Solution: Hot dog from the corner store

Refreshing Twitter over and over for hours doesn't make environmental-protection legislation happen. Sometimes the best thing to do is to go outside, see that the world is still turning, and find some local business to support. The 7-Eleven on the corner counts as local, right? Their awful food will remind you that you are incapable of even mildly responsible decisions about your own body, let alone figure out how to prevent impending natural disasters. Takes the pressure off!

Anxiety: Social anxiety at a party

Solution: Herbed goat cheese and rice crackers

Junk food isn't really junk food unless you eat a lot of it. Stand next to the cheese platter and don't stop until your body is 40 percent herbed goat cheese. And don't think you're finished just because you've depleted the current supply. In all likelihood, someone will replenish it and you can get back to work.

Anxiety: You've just discovered something extremely annoying about yourself that has always been true and, in a panic, you recall scenes from the last 30 years in a kind of "putting things together" sequence while thinking, "No, no, no."

Solution: Cheeseless pizza from Little Caesars

You want to torment your body but don't think you deserve any pleasure, so you come to the horrific compromise of eating something that tastes terrible and is still bad for you. It might initially seem like a lose-lose but it's actually a big WIN for your self-fulfilling prophecy that everything is, and always will be, terrible.

Anxiety: Several large looming deadlines that you've been putting off

Solution: Homemade vegan double-down sandwiches

A complicated and very greasy endeavor that will take forever to make and cause your entire apartment to smell like a fryer. It will all end up tasting great, as fried food always does, and for a few blissful hours you'll have forgotten about all those pressing matters, which are now even more urgent.

Anxiety: Unplaceable, unshakeable dread

Solution: Whatever random pasta you have in your cupboard with some oil on it

You can cry while you're making it, you can cry while you're eating it and you can cry afterward, remembering what a pathetic meal you just had, making this one of the most versatile garbage foods in existence.

Anxiety: Jaw acne that has a ton of verve for life

Solution: Java Chip Frappuccino

Having a particularly brutal breakout? Why not stick it to the man and give in to the one food item that rolls everything you're supposed to avoid when you're acne-prone together: dairy, sugar, caffeine, chocolate, the blood, sweat, and tears of PhD-holding baristas and processed non-food chemicals. Acne is "the man" in this scenario, and "sticking it" is just, like, succumbing to it, I guess.

Anxiety: There's so much going wrong you don't even know what to be anxious about

Solution: Boneless hot wings and fried pickles

Going out for hot wings is one of the most reckless junk food choices. It's not cheap, it doesn't taste very good, and you feel extremely bad in almost every conceivable way afterwards. But that reckless feeling is precisely what's so great about it. You dgaf. You're living like a rock star. Sex, drugs, and Medium Sauce. ♦

Chelsea Martin is a Spokane-based author of five books, including Caca Dolce: Essays from a Lowbrow Life. Her website is

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