February 2016 Why is everyone so anxious?

Why is our culture so caught up in anxiety?  This is a question I am asking myself as a counsellor because the overall rate of anxiety is rising at an alarming rate, even for children.  So, I thought it might be helpful to sift through some ideas about possible reasons and then list some possible practices to quiet our systems to a more manageable level.

Possible Reasons:

  • Pace of life is faster than the natural pace of mind & body
  • Information overload
  • Living mindlessly rather than mindfully
  • Paradox of choice: both freeing and oppressive
  • Deeply attracted to our feel-good chemicals: we are wired & tired & busy
  • Bombarded with troubling societal and global issues
  • Fluidity & ambiguity in role formation (gender, family, parenting)
  • Temporary nature of our work
  • Pervasive & persistent sense of loneliness & isolation
  • Clamor of competing voices trying to convince us of something

 Possible Practices:

  • Inhabit our selves & our spaces (paying attention to our sensory information and our internal experience)
  • Embodied presence (being truly present in the moment—not anchored in the past or future—and aware to our external experiences with the world and with people)
  • Establish values & beliefs and working them out in our lives (these are the things that give us meaning and purpose)
  • Establish rhythms & rituals (patterns of being and belonging that ease the pressure points)
  • Orient ourselves toward health and healthy changes (Do you want to be well? If so, what does wellness look like for you?)
  • Learn how to be comfortable in both solitude and community
  • Create space for spirituality in our lives and in our stories (mystery & miracles—the things that are beautiful & good & working well)
  • Ask better questions as a sacred act (getting unstuck from our ‘Why’ questions and moving into our ‘What’ and ‘How’ questions.
  • Unplug from the tech world for periods of time—and create some ‘high touch’ activities (those daily, creative and restorative practices, such as hobbies, hiking, or hilarity)
  • Create something (music, art, a new building…anything really)

Well, this list is a bit brief, for sure, but I think it’s enough to get anyone started on a different life trajectory. Remember, it’s the difference (any small change) that makes a difference and that practices are for practicing, not perfecting.

Peace to all.

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