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Is Self-Care Alone Enough to Ease Anxiety?



There are many different aspects of wellness and many people may not realize how many steps it takes to relieve mental health issues like anxiety. The idea of self-care is a trendy new topic and although it can be useful for people dealing with a lot of stress, for someone with an anxiety disorder it may not be enough to calm their symptoms. In some cases, the pressure of having to take time out for self-care may even create more anxiety.

Self-care can mean different things for everyone, and each person may have their own unique way of doing something nice for themselves and taking time off from their stress. But when negative thoughts and anxious feelings are persistent problems, self-care may not always be a useful tool. In many cases, combining self-care with more specific strategies taught by a therapist may be more helpful in combating anxiety.

It is a popular notion that self-care resolves stress, but for the 20 percent of U.S. adults who live with an anxiety disorder it may not be complete solution. Wellness articles across the internet may prescribe self-care but tackling anxiety can be a much more complicated issue. Targeting anxiety symptoms often requires the help of a professional.

Self-Care And Anxiety

People who create a self-care routine often choose a few different activities that they imagine will make them feel more calm. It could be anything from taking a walk, doing yoga, reading, taking a bath or calling a friend. The goal is to take time away from a busy schedule to feel calm and do something you like to do to relax.

The idea of self-care can start with good intentions but for people with anxiety disorders it can trigger even more negative feelings. They can start to obsess over their self-care, worry that they are not doing it right, or experience feelings of guilt that they aren’t being more productive. Soon even the thought that they have to take time out for self-care can make them feel stressed out.

In some cases self-care has become such a trend that it is fetishized and becomes something that people post on social media to advertise their own self-care. The public display of self-care can make people feel more anxious as they might compare themselves to others and worry that they aren’t doing a good job. If their version of self-care doesn’t look like everyone else’s they may feel embarrassed or stop engaging in the process.

Balancing Self-Care with Treatment

For people who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders, it can be tricky to use self-care as a positive tool that won’t become a stressful obsession. If you find that the whole idea of self-care creates more anxiety for you then you can avoid focusing on that concept and instead use strategies that you have learned from your therapist. Individual therapy sessions are crucial to learning how to cope with anxiety symptoms in the most effective way possible.

When anxious thoughts take over you can employ certain tactics such as deep breathing, meditating or other activities that tend to calm those feelings. Instead of creating a set time for “self-care” which builds up pressure around the event, you can simply focus your energy on times when you feel most anxious. Relaxing your body and practicing anxiety relief tactics can be effective in times of crisis or when stress has built up to an unbearable level.

The most important thing to keep in mind when considering “self-care” is that it doesn’t work as a substitute for the real relief of psychotherapy. Even though self-care practices can be helpful, for someone with a serious anxiety disorder there is no replacement for getting real professional help. If you are seeing a regular therapist you can talk to them about the best ways to incorporate self-care into your routine and discuss tactics if you feel that your self-care is causing more anxiety.

Everyone achieves better health and well-being in their own unique ways and there is no “right” way to manage anxiety. Some people may find that self-care helps them reduce stress and have more relaxing moments as a part of their regular routine. Others may find that it generates more pressure for them and they feel they have to live up to certain standards of self-care.

As long as you are receiving regular treatment for an anxiety disorder you can decide for yourself whether self-care is useful for you or if you prefer not to use it. Being involved in a wide variety of strategies for managing anxiety can help the process of recovery unfold. To treat anxiety, you don’t necessarily need to follow trends or copy social media posts; you simply need to find what works best for you and your personal needs.