There’s a really thin line in my relationship with anxiety between enabling myself and in prioritizing self care. I don’t quite know how to handle it or what the difference is. It reminds me of how my mom must have felt when I was in 4th or 5th grade dealing with undiagnosed mono for eternity – do I let her sleep in and skip her first period or do I drag her out of bad and force her to go? The mono was undiagnosed so it was hard to tell what to do: do I enable or do I teach her good habits and set expectations? This is how I imagine the conversation at least ;).
I still have to do this with myself regularly. Today, I was feeling anxious looking ahead at the week with two conferences back to back over 4 days and only one real working day (today) to get things in order. I couldn’t fall asleep until nearly 2am on top of it so by the time I did drag myself out of bed, I was struggling. I forced myself to go to the coffee shop (didn’t enable!) which helped in terms of forcing me to adhere to social norms like talking to other humans, sitting up straight, not working in bed, not falling back to sleep etc. Although this coffee shop is strangely starting to feel like a second home at this point… Cut to 5pm and I’m facing a soccer game at 6:50pm.
“If the game is at 6:50pm, I need to get there at around 6:30pm which means I need to leave here no later than 6:20pm. I need to give myself an hour prior to eat which means I need to start cooking… now?!?”
This is when the idea of skipping soccer felt so damn appealing. Why force myself to go?! I was exhausted from the day, didn’t want to eat just then, and still had loads to do before being ready to get on a plan tomorrow at 7AM. This is the conundrum I am faced with. Do I…
A) Let myself skip soccer. Cut back to the basics and shower, do laundry, eat dinner slowly, etc. Make sure everything is for sure taken care of in a more leisurely fashion and try to curl into bed early before my 7AM flight.
B) Go to soccer and get a quick lifting session in. It’ll likely cheer me up thanks to endorphins and being around people, get some of the nervous energy out of my system, exhaust me for bed, give me a good start to exercise for the week seeing as I’ll likely not get much of it…
I couldn’t let myself off the hook – I went to soccer and, on top of that, I did a hardcore lifting session after. I even added in a full 5 minute stair machine sprint at level 16 to end it all. I was only going to go for 3 minutes but GOD KNOWS WHAT REASON 5 minutes came into my head as “a goal to work up to someday”. This then led to me thinking “why can’t someday be TODAY?!”. Cue to me dragging my exhausted body to the car.
I’m glad I went to soccer – I had a great time. I scored a sick goal. I hung out with friends. I got to catch part of the sunset from the field. Per usual, it was a beautiful San Diego night. This was a case where I think I chose the right outcome. Other nights, when I’ve tried to push through, it was the worst thing I could have possibly done. How on earth am I supposed to know the difference?! How do you know whether you are enabling your anxiety or easing your anxiety?
I have no answers. & to think I think I’m self-aware 😉
Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash