One of the paradoxes of anxiety is that anxious people often fear getting out into the world and around people, yet isolation only serves to make our anxiety worse.
When I hurt my neck recently, I was laid up at home for a few days on muscle relaxers and in pain. When I began to heal a bit, I remained anxious about getting out into the world. I was afraid that my neck would start hurting again or somehow become more injured by my activity. But the longer I stayed at home by myself, the more my fear grew.
As my husband sometimes says, “Anxiety likes space.” When there is a vacuum, anxiety tends to rush in to fill the emptiness. And when we stay at home alone, our anxious thoughts and fears have plenty of time and space to grow and expand.
Sometimes the hardest thing but the best thing for our anxiety is to simply get out of the house and around other human beings.
The night I realized I was too anxious to enjoy the company of friends I was spending time with was the night I knew that I needed to get back on medication.
Community is vital to our physical and mental health. If I could not function well enough to remain in community, something had to change.
So today, a few weeks into my medication regimen, I am happy to share this moment with you.
I had the opportunity to spend several hours out on a beautiful day with my church community and several of their fur children as we participated in our annual blessing of the pets. There were a couple of moments that I noticed my anxiety, but on the whole I enjoyed being out in the good world and around people who love me even when they know I can be an anxious mess sometimes.
As I have said before, if you do not have people in your life you can share your anxiety recovery journey with, I will pray that you find them soon. I know for me being a part of a church where people can be real with each other and share their brokenness has been an important part of my healing.
And even if you don’t have a community just yet, I encourage you to still try and get out into the world. I know it is scary. It will not always be easy or pleasant. But it is so important.
Go sit at a coffee shop and read or take a walk in a public place. If you have the chance, join an anxiety support group! Whatever it is, do something that allows you to remember the world is a beautiful place and there are still good people in it.
I’d love to hear ways that you have found community support for your anxiety and how you have gotten over your fear of getting out into the world.
And if this is still a struggle for you, you can share that story too and we will support and pray for you as we can.