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How Learning To Read Tarot Cards Has Helped Calm My Anxious Brain

I used to think about self-care as an interconnected network of practices (i.e., meditation, movement, eating all the things, financial wellbeing), and that actually made life feel way more unmanageable than it had to be. Taking care of myself should not result in stress!

When I started reading tarot, it gave me a single practice that allowed me to step into the role of overseer of my entire life and to be honest to myself. It helped me find peace in being pragmatic about my needs, rather than trying to achieve some constant state of “balance.” Tarot tells it like it is–what I’m really thinking/wanting–and it reminds me that sometimes giving up control is the most self-loving thing I can do (read: my mind doesn’t know it all).

Here are a few ways I use tarot for self-care:

To set an intention for the day (or week, or month). Adding a daily draw (shuffling the deck and picking one card) to my morning or nightly routine helps me ground into an intention. Rather than deciding what I think I need, I hand it over to the tarot to give me an idea. Some questions I might ask are, “What do I need to know today?” or “What should I be open to today?” or “How can I be the most loving today?” I can come back to this throughout my day to stay focused on what I’ve decided matters to me as opposed to what matters to the many people around me.  

To call me out on my own bullshit when I’m feeling helpless. Tarot always calls me out on the ways I’m lying to myself about not having any control over my life and it points out the many ways I do have control. In this way, getting confronted with challenging cards is a blessing. The Tarot Lady put this SO well:

“(A ‘bad’ card) may draw attention to something you are refusing to accept. Never underestimate the power of denial. It may be the warning bell that helps you to make a conscious change. It may be showing you an alternate route that might be better suited for you. It may confirm something that you are already feeling but hoping isn’t true.”

To me, this is the power of tarot. If I feel helpless, it’s probably because I’m trying to cover up what I’m really feeling, because I’m afraid of rocking the boat. Or, I stay overwhelmed and keep doing too much because I’m afraid of actually devoting myself to the thing I really want (which means I’d have to be vulnerable). Tarot calls me on my bullshit, but it also offers creative solutions. It’s a great tool for tough love.

To create rituals. Rituals are so key for staying grounded. Having a morning routine, a skincare routine, a yoga practice or workout routine helps us organize our lives in a chaotic world. Rituals allow us to return to ourselves, even when our surroundings, jobs and roles in life change. A tarot reading is a simple ritual I can do whenever I feel like I need it.

To honour moon phases. I’m big on moon phases and I like to create tarot spreads for new/full moons. This is a way to honour the passing of time and look ahead, without trying to plan too much. I’ll do a tarot reading and journal about it at the new moon or full moon. A new moon spread might ask, “What seeds are ready to be planted and how can I ensure they grow successfully?” A full moon spread might ask, “What’s ready to manifest and how can I best capitalize on it?” It’s up to me. It’s up to the universe.

To practice a sense of reverence. It’s not necessary to believe there is any divine power or magic in the cards (tarot can totally just be a game if you want it to be), but I really like to practice a sense of reverence around it. On one hand, we’re talking about a machine-printed deck of cards. On the other hand, it can be a conduit for our divine inner knowing that moves toward love. When I use tarot, I create a space for my readings, get out of my head, focus on my breath, set an intention or ask a question, shuffle, cut, and trust what comes through is for my highest good.

To connect with friends on a deeper level. Reading tarot with friends is a) fun, and b) a reminder that sharing our truth creates alchemy. Situations can breathe and change when start talking about them! A problem shared is a problem halved. Connecting with friends is good for our self-care, but going deeper with friends can be nourishing.

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