Does Self-Care Truly Help Anxiety?

July 6, 2021 Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

I have talked a lot about using self-care as an important strategy for managing anxiety. And I'm sure you have read a lot about it and seen a lot about it on TV as well as on social media. We are constantly inundated every day with tips and strategies for self-care. But does self-care truly help anxiety?

While the suggestions, information, and strategies are often helpful, I've also found that they can become overwhelming. As someone who struggles with chronic anxiety, I've also found that there is sometimes a fine line between learning about and practicing self-care that helps my anxiety and being overwhelmed with things that I feel I should be doing. 

When Is Self-Care Not Helpful For Anxiety?

Practicing self-care, overall, is helpful for anxiety. Why is that? First of all, let's look at what self-care is. Self-care can sometimes mean something different to everyone; however, overall, I define self-care as measures that we can take to care for ourselves for optimal health and wellness. This can involve physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual care.

When we take steps to take care of ourselves, we become more resilient to stressful situations that life throws our way. Self-care leads to improved physical and mental health and can help increase our enjoyment of life.

But, if you struggle with chronic anxiety, you may find that all of the information you learn about when it comes to self-care can lead to increased pressure, worry, and possibly stress. Here are a few reasons why.

  1. Information about self-care is full of things we are told we should be doing. When you are anxious, you are already often dealing with feeling like you have not met certain standards. This is one of the main aspects of chronic anxiety that I struggle with. I find myself setting high expectations for myself -- perfectionist expectations -- and when I hear about things that I should be doing, I feel anxious because I am then not meeting those expectations. When we see an abundance of information about self-care in our newsfeeds, it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling as though we aren't doing enough and there is more we need to be doing to take care of ourselves. This can, unfortunately, defeat the purpose of self-care.
  2. We may then find that we are trying to carve out the time for self-care amid a busy life. Indeed, self-care is critical. However, it is also critical to be aware of how you feel when you are trying to find the time for your self-care methods. Self-care should make you feel better, not worse.
  3. Sometimes, it allows you to avoid things that you should be confronting or dealing with. Since analyzing my anxiety, I have found that this is important for me to be aware of. Am I taking a half hour to read so that I can take a needed break, or am I giving myself a few hours to read so that I don't have to deal with things I don't want to deal with throughout the day? It's important to be aware of when self-care crosses into avoidance that ultimately feeds and increases your anxiety.

How to Use Self-Care Effectively for Anxiety

So how can you use self-care effectively to help you cope, manage, and reduce your anxiety? It is crucial to be self-aware of what your self-care practices are accomplishing. For example, if you are taking a break from work, it is important to be aware of the reason why. Are you taking a break to recharge so that you can get back to work, or are you taking a break to avoid going back to work?

It is also crucial to be aware of what is motivating you behind your choice of self-care. Think about whether you enjoy taking that hour-long yoga class, or if a walk in the park is something that calms you, or if you are doing it just because it is what you think you should be doing. 

Lastly, remember that self-care is all about what is helpful for you, not others. Take the time to take care of yourself because that's what self-care is supposed to be about.

If there are specific strategies you use that are helpful, share those in the comments below.

APA Reference
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2021, July 6). Does Self-Care Truly Help Anxiety?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

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