There is exponential growth in anxiety and depression in the world as we have never seen before. Why is this?
What are we doing? I mean, really, what are we doing? Who is driving this bus and where is it going?
We have the world in the palm of our hands and yet our nervous systems are wracked, frayed and depleted.
Anxiety is an epidemic and suicide is the second leading cause of death of people aged 10 to 34 in the US
I am not an alarmist, really. There’s enough fear going around already. But I can’t help but wonder…. what are we all doing and what is causing this?
Anxiety is a symptom of another issue. This might be different for everyone, but it is a normal reaction in our nervous systems… to something. What is it for you?
Is it the need to please everyone? Responding to a toxic workplace or boss? Is it worrying about the never-ending to-do list of tasks to complete? Or perhaps absorbing the negative energy of the world we see on the news?
In an age of digital technology, there is the screen stimulation and loneliness that can arise…
In a culture where politics, health and education seem to be built on a platform of fear..
Fear of the ‘other’, fear of not enough for everyone, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, fear of illness. Can you see it all around you?
In truth, the world itself in it’s natural state is not a fearful place. It’s the spin we put on it. Can you think of the number of times you have actually been under a life-or-death threat? In my experience, it’s probably not that many times.
So, all the other times are life issues that arise that need to be moved through. The problem is that our nervous systems that are geared for survival and cannot tell the difference between being chased by a grizzly bear and being criticized or left out.
I am thankful we live in a time where we have medications for depression and anxiety and in some cases they can be a lifesaver. But no-one wants to stay medicated forever. There has to be another way to heal.
I hear every day how people feel so anxious and are desperate to feel better, to feel calmer, to feel their natural state of peace. In my opinion, what we want is to feel what we feel. Period. Without judgement.
Max Strom, well known yoga teacher said it well:
“We hold in us our past and are taught to suppress emotions such as fear, loneliness, shame, and especially our grief. We are taught that only certain emotions are socially acceptable. Anger is somewhat socially acceptable, but tears are not. Someone whom you love passes away, and you push it down. You go through a divorce, and you push it down. You go bankrupt, and you push it down.”
What do you think happens to all those feelings? They stay in our body. The body remembers. And then an interesting symptom starts to display itself when we keep these emotions buried. You know what it’s called? It’s called anxiety, followed by depression and burnout.
Let me give you some tools to use to start chipping away at anxiety, at the block of emotions in your heart, at the tension that rises in your shoulders and your chest:
- Breathe. Practice breathing everyday for 10-15 minutes. Deeper, wider, fuller breathing.
- Notice and recognize your emotions as they arise. There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ emotions, just feel whatever sensations arise and acknowledge them. Don’t judge them. Even model this for your kids and friends. Give yourself permission to feel.
- Let go of what isn’t necessary. Here I’m talking about old beliefs, rules or expectations that don’t align with your peace. When you are stressed, notice what you are beliving about yourself or the world.
Imagine a world where we all did this.. took full responsibility for managing our nervous systems and our emotional energy, instead of wreaking havoc on others, on our health and well-being.
When we start to see more clearly, we are better able to make those difficult decisions (or not so difficult!) around our work, our relationships, our lives. We can make them out of love, out of good judgement, not in a desperate reaction to fear.
Simple, right? But not easy.
The foundation of all of this is mindfulness. Be aware of your life, your breath, your body, in the present moment.
After all, this moment is all there is.
Join my online course Burnout to Balance starting April 13th:
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