Self-care is not exactly how people picture it to be. Even if you do one thing for yourself, in that moment, it may relieve a little pressure, but you’re right back into it again the moment you’re done. Radical self-care does not always help anxiety the way people think. In fact, it can exacerbate it when we finally slow down long enough to realize everything going on in our lives. It may take more than self-care to really support someone dealing with long-term, chronic anxiety.
Everything has a ‘cure,’ from the way we live our lives being busy to stress and insomnia. It seems self-care is the new balm that soothes those life pains. It can certainly be helpful but it is far from a panacea for people who struggle with chronic physical illness or mental illness and depression. Taking a break to do something nice for yourself is good for you. It can be helpful but it is not going to take care of everything. Sometimes, doing something for yourself just makes it worse, especially if you live with anxiety disorder.
Anxiety and Self-Care
Nearly a quarter of adults living in the United States deal with some sort of anxiety disorder, making it the most prevalent mental illness in the United States. So many people have anxiety and finally people are talking about it. This lifts the stigma a bit but it does not help those who struggle actually gain footing. Openness and acceptance is one key to a bigger puzzle. Wellness articles and whole food memes promote taking care of oneself and self-care as a quick fix that everyone needs, daily, to be healthy. Anxiety disorders make everything hard from going out in public to resting, being in crowds, leaving the house, almost anything can be a challenge. Even if someone is functional while coping with anxiety, under the surface they may feel they are still worried and anxious about everything.
Letting Go of the Hashtag
Social media has a lot to do with the pressure people feel to practice self-care. When it seems everyone out there is promoting a brand of wellness and health that seems unsustainable, it is helpful to know that hashtags are not the end all, be all of self-care. Self-care does not look the same person to person. It will look like what works for you. If you feel strongly about developing self-care practice, discuss it with a mental health professional and work together to come up with a plan. You might also:
- Hop off social media for mini breaks (or longer term, if necessary)
- Speak to a physician about medications (new or existing)
- Find support groups
- Practice quiet meditative spaces like baths or quiet yoga at home
- Find what works for you and stop listening to other people
- Let go of judgment
Self-care, like anything, can be a way to be self-critical or judgy of yourself or others. Don’t worry about what other people think or do. Do you the best you can and practice the self-care you need. Even if it means skipping a few things so you can sleep rather than keep busy with more things, that may be what is most honoring to you in the moment.
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