Anxiety – Why Self-Care Isn’t Always The Answer

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Like most people, I dance with anxiety from time to time. It’s often subtle at first, but quickly finds its footing. Before I know it, it has taken over, it’s in full control and it’s convincing me that all I need to do is search harder for an answer.

It makes a promise and assures me that this elusive answer will provide me with some sense of calm. So I dive in completely and as it starts to consume me, it becomes harder and harder to recognize what’s actually going on.

For myself, my anxiety appears when I’m trying to cover up a deeper feeling. Maybe one that’s difficult or hard to express, or simply one that I don’t want to acknowledge. After the fact, it’s easy to realize the validity of that feeling, but in the moment it tries to hide itself because there’s a sense of immaturity or juvenileness attached to it.

As adults we are supposed to ‘keep going’ and ‘stay strong’, but listening to the younger parts of ourselves is extremely important for our mental health. When there’s difficulty or struggle, it’s sometimes easier to push past it and accept it for what it is, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be some genuine feelings attached to it as well.

The problem is that these feelings are often very big and strong, and for a lot of people, experiencing these feelings, is something that is hard to sit with. It can be uncomfortable, it can leave you feeling vulnerable and it can throw your center off balance. So to avoid that, anxiety steps in.

Now a lot of people would say that in order to manage your anxiety you need to practice more self-care, engage in mindfulness or at least come up with some sort of strategy on how to tackle it. And while all these avenues hold benefits, for myself, it has more to do with the timing.

When I’m in the thick of it and anxiety is taking its turn, any amount of self-care, as a solution to how I’m feeling, is like trying to fill a cup that has been sealed shut; it is consuming and pointless. And ultimately, we shouldn’t be searching for an answer.

Heavy emotions covered up by even heavier mind-body responses, is already a layer on top of another layer. We don’t need extra coverage to find ourselves, we just need a way to get down to the source.

So I have come to realize that my anxiety is there for a reason and it’s trying to tell me something. And when I ride it out and let it run its course, there’s always a breaking point, followed by an emotional explosion. The emotion I was keeping down in the depths, gets released, and after some time, I start to feel better.

The world seems more manageable once again and I have space to be lighter in my worries and concerns. I can laugh at things that would have set me off before and I’m able to just experience my emotions without being consumed by them.

I start to re-center myself and slowly gain back my footing. I practice self-care and the world starts to open up again because I opened up to myself. Soon enough my cup starts to fill. It is warm and comforting, and it can hold much more than it could before.

So as I forge on, I will continue to lose my footing from time to time. I will continue to lose my center while feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable. And I will continue to open myself up and keep filling my cup when given the chance because I don’t want any extra layers, I want to be seen. 

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