It’s a truism: we are living in an age of anxiety. An age of too much information, too much stress, too much anxiety – too much too much.
Consequently, many of us are experiencing emotional, psychological and physical overwhelm on a daily basis. The dial doesn’t ever get turned down, it just seems to get turned up more and more in a relentless and exhausting fashion.
I see so many people who cannot stop thinking and overthinking, who cannot wind down or relax, and whose sleep is interrupted by nightmares, night sweats, obsessional thoughts and those endless beeps, buzzes and blips.
Or maybe it’s the noisy neighbours, the difficult friends or relatives, and the troubled partnership, that keeps you wired. It might be the extra overload at work, or the unreal expectations of having the body beautiful and strivings for creating the perfect life.
All this against the backdrop of the dreaded ‘B’ word (Brexit), the financial uncertainties, the political and social confusion, that we find ourselves in now. A veritable psychological tumble dryer of daily pain and angst.
So what can we do to overcome the overwhelm? We all know about yoga and exercise to boost endorphins, but perhaps we are too stressed and time-pressed to practice? We also know that turning to our addictions, (our usual friends being booze, weed, pills, caffeine, screens, spending, sex/porn), does not solve our overwhelm long term albeit we get some momentary relief.
On the whole, taking time out – literally wrenching it out of your impossibly busy day – to do something simple is a good first step:
– notice the blossoms or look closely at some flowers;
– get into a green space – even for fifteen minutes – and smell the grass, look at the colour of the leaves, feel the grass under your feet;
– stretch and move your body – get your muscles moving, get air in your lungs;
– pet a friendly dog, talk to a cat – even a few minutes of animal connection can work magic;
– if you have a garden or window box – prune something, cut the grass, plant something – get your fingers dirty – dig in;
– get near to water – a river, a lake, a canal, the sea – provides solace, fresh air, wildlife, ozone;
– listen to music – put on a favourite track and emote;
– dance and prance – a good bop round your room works wonders;
– experience silence. We are so noise-overloaded, that it’s a great thing to turn things off for fifteen minutes and lies on your bed, sofa or floor and simply be quiet;
– have a hug – even a small physical connection can work wonders. Enjoy a gentle, meaningful hug with someone. It can change your day;
– eliminate the negative – watch out for those mean, critical thoughts. Those judgmental, intolerant snipes that you harbour – blow them away. Plus, deflect any that come your way – you don’t deserve them.
All this may seem an impossible list, but they are a starting point. When your pot is full, just think how you can extend your pot by increasing the good things in your life.
The age of anxiety is here to stay, but how we respond to it is really the name of the survival game.