How Anxiety is a Lot Like Roller Skating

Kids blue roller skates with rainbow pride socks

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I recently bought roller skates for my two youngest daughters. They had never roller skated before, but we were determined to teach them because we want them to spend more time away from their screens and more time outdoors, being kids. While I was watching them, it occurred to me that roller skating is a lot like anxiety. That may sound like a strange comparison, but hear me out. When you live with anxiety day in and day out, you tend to discover strange similarities like this one.

It’s Scary at First

Roller Skating: Think about that first time you laced up your roller skates. Unless you were used to moving around on wheels, it’s scary. You feel shaky and unbalanced, like you could crash into something at any moment. It seems unlikely that you’ll ever get used to the feeling.

Anxiety: Now think about that first time you experienced anxiety. It’s also scary. You feel shaky and unbalanced, like your life could crash at any moment. It seems unlikely that you’ll ever get used to the feeling.

You’ll Probably Fall Down a Lot

Roller Skating: That first time, and possibly the next few times after that, you feel like you’re going to fall. In fact, you may just do that, a number of times. You might get hurt physically if you aren’t wearing protective gear, but you may also get hurt mentally. That first fall may stop you from getting up and trying again. You’re afraid that you’ll get injured again, possibly worse next time. You go over everything you may have done wrong, that caused you to fall and make sure to do things differently in the future.

Anxiety: The first time, and probably all of the other times after that, you feel like you’re falling, like there is no way to stop yourself from falling again. That first anxiety attack is now forever etched into your brain. It’s damaged you mentally. You may be afraid that it’s going to happen again, so you think of every possible scenario that might have caused this one. You vow to never do any of those things again, in hopes that you will never experience another anxiety attack. You’re afraid that next time, it might be worse.

Going too Fast and it’s Hard to Stop

Roller Skating: Once you finally get going, especially if it’s even slightly downhill, you are rolling fast. Everything is passing on each side of you and you hope nothing gets in your way. Even with those little rubber stoppers, you aren’t sure you can stop. What if you try to stop and wind up falling? Can you use that speed to your advantage? Maybe. It’s a rush. You haven’t felt anything like it before, it’s a mixture of excitement and terror, all rolled into one. All you can do is breathe and take in the moment, until you finally come to a stop.

Anxiety: Once you have a panic attack, you feel like you’re rolling downhill. It’s fast. Life is going on around you, but it’s too blurry for you to notice. All you can focus on is the panic and trying to figure out how to stop yourself. What if this lasts forever? Can you live life like this? It’s terrifying. You wish you had a stop button, but nothing like that exists. You breathe, slowly and thoughtfully until the panic finally comes to a stop.

Once you Get Past Initial Fear, it isn’t so Scary

Roller Skating: Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, and get past the initial fear, you’ll find that roller skating isn’t so scary. You have learned to control your body and your movements in a way that has allowed you to enjoy it. You look forward to roller skating again and each time, it gets easier and easier for you to do it without getting hurt.

Anxiety: While anxiety attacks are scary, once you’ve lived through them and realize that you can get through them with some breathing techniques, it’s a little less scary. You have learned that distraction, focusing on your breathing and mindfulness have allowed you to get into control of yourself during this scary time. You’ve built up a shield of armor that can be pulled out and used to fight the scary feelings over and over again, until they’re gone.

Someone Can Hold Your Hand

Roller Skating: While you’ve finally learned to skate on your own, you know that skating with a friend or family member is easier, and more fun. They can help you balance and enjoy the experience with you. Together, you can hold hands and conquer the moment. Sure, you might fall, but falling together can be less scary and even funny in some situations.

Anxiety: While there are moments during an anxiety attack, where you might want to be left alone, in most cases, having someone just nearby, or holding your hand, makes it a little less scary. They can remind you to breathe, distract you or just comfort you a bit. Sure, it’s a panic attack, but it’s a little less scary knowing you aren’t alone.

Do you see how anxiety and roller skating are similar? Can you think of any other similarities?

Make sure to read more about my journey with anxiety and share yours in the comments below. Together, we can get through this.

It may be a strange comparison, but anxiety and roller skating are actually very similar.

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Hello There!

I'm so honored that you've found us! I'm Heather, a Mom of 3 who blogs about parenting, food, occasional travel and how I overcame my daily struggle with anxiety. I miss sleeping and rely on coffee and laughter to get me through the day. I hope you enjoy and visit often!

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  1. Hi Heather, I have found this very interesting, for sure with both it is easier going down hill than up. As a hypnotherapist and counselor for over 20 years, I have seen many cases of severe anxiety and panic attacks. These extreme cases where anxiety is running out of control can cause a disaster. The same can be said about roller skating if you are rolling out of control you can be heading for disaster. I am pleased you are able to control yours.

  2. The comparison is on point. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post ♥️ ♥️ By any chance, are you interested in doing collabs? xx

  3. You’re so right! But as long as we keep getting up and trying again…just like with roller skating we will eventually get the hang of it and be able to stand on our own 🙂

  4. You nailed it. My son suffers from anxiety, and this describes his struggles perfectly. This is a lifelong journey, so getting the best set of skates possible is key. Good luck!

  5. This is such an interesting post to read. I never thought about the comparison before, but you raise some good points.

  6. This is a great analogy and preception on anxiety. Ive suffered from anxiety in the past and thankfully I was able to get out of that funk.

  7. Love this, especially about someone holding your hand!! Having a support system, even if it’s just one special person, makes the whole situation 100% better – Sondra Barker @cuisineandtravel

  8. I’ve never dealt with anxiety on a regular or debilitating basis, but I think this is a really great analogy. For people who don’t deal with anxiety, I think this will help them understand it better.

  9. I love how you take courage as you shared us your story. the comparison was so relevant and I know how it feels, glad that there were people behind me who are willing to support and understand my roller skating kind of life.

  10. This is so encouraging. I’ve struggled with anxiety off and on throughout my life. It’s good to know I’m not alone and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  11. Anxiety issues are tough. I have a few anxieties I deal with, but I have some friends with a lot of anxiety, where it effects daily life. It is helpful to understand a little more what it is like.

  12. I think you have a good description of axiety attack with roller skating. Great awareness for us.

  13. Thank you for your explanation on anxiety using roller skating as an example. This makes it easy for someone like me to understand the subject better in layman’s term.

  14. Having anxiety is really difficult and this is a great comparison. Getting to know yourself and how anxiety works will make it easier for you.

  15. Yes. I never looked at it this way but it is so true. Anxiety is just like roller skating. Now you’ve got me thinking!

  16. This is such a great simile. Anxiety is tough, but you can get it under control with practice!

  17. It can be tricky to balance with it! So many things can come at you all at once and then boom, you are on the ground!

  18. How does the importance of social media today change the way that social pressure works? Is the quality of pressure different now, or is it the same, just more intense?

    If the norm is to have everything that you do being portrayed on social media, then for sure, social image becomes more important. Many actions are now expected to be shared, and the mere fact of not sharing sends a signal that there’s nothing interesting to share. That creates pressure to share. This is just a conjecture, but we might be getting to the stage where people care more about the image of what they’re doing, how it looks to others, than the actual experience. This may create anxiety. People might look at what others are sharing and feel bad about their own life. They don’t understand that everyone’s trying to make their life look amazing on social media.

  19. I never thought about the two together before. I think you are right now. Anxiety can be like roller skating!

  20. This comparison is totally spot on. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I can totally connect to this.

  21. I never had anxiety until my failed back surgery. I was terrified by what was happening to me. I love that you’ve broken this down so that others can see that what they’re going thru is normal and there is help, even if it’s a helping hand.

  22. I ‘ve never thought about anxiety like roller skating, but you’re right: they both have a lot in common!

  23. Wow! What a great post. I would have never thought to compare roller skating and anxiety this way. I don’t have anything to add because I think you covered it!

  24. This is such a great analogy! I’m going to use this going forward, to explain to people what it feels like to have anxiety.

  25. Anxiety can be really bad, I had panic attacks in the past so I know what you’re talking about. Life and rollercoaster are similar, don’t you think?

  26. I LOVE the comparison you use in the post speaking about anxiety. It makes it feel real and very personal. Thank you, Heather.

  27. I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. I was prescribed meds but did not end up taking them. Faith and exercise helped me to curb it but it is still in me and rears itself sometimes.

  28. The comparison was so spot on, I never thought to compare anxiety to roller skating. Anxiety is not an easy thing to live with.

  29. At first Roller Skating appears more scary, you get to love it more when you are okay with it, nice tisp keep up.

  30. I really believe that Someone Can Hold Your Hand! It means like anxiety, someone can give you moral support. Hang on! You can make it!

  31. Oh I’m already anxious of the thought of trying roller skating. I have never done it before, and I don’t even know how. So, I agree, roller skating is parallel to anxiety, my own anxiety related to this stuff. 🙂

  32. I’ve never thought of it like this but you’re so right! Thanks for sharing and for always being so transparent!❤️❤️