Anxiety is taking the country by storm. People of all ages are facing symptoms that can be mental, emotional, and physical. Symptoms range from a slight feeling of anxiousness to a full-blown panic attack. Why is anxiety so prevalent? How can we reduce it or avoid it all together? Read below to find 8 reasons that could be contributing to your anxiety.
The information in this article is not meant to replace the care of a medical professional. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any conditions. If you think you have anxiety, please seek out the help of a professional.
1. You live in an Instant World
Our culture is go-go-go. We have gotten so good at life that we can have almost anything we want with little to no wait. Want to go food shopping at this exact moment without leaving the house? Done, just get your computer. Want to send a message to someone? Email them, text them, call them, Facebook Message them, DM them. Heck, you can get a mortgage in your underwear! When we have constant contact our brains adapt to the fact that anything can be instant and starts to believe that everything should be instant!
Solution: Use a planner
. By planning out your week each Sunday night, and reviewing the proceeding day each night, you will know what your priorities are and what needs to get done today versus what can wait. If it is not on your list, don’t do it. This will help your brain get focused on the tasks that matter and help you rest assure knowing that the things you are worried about have their time mapped out for another day.
2. Social Media
This should come as no surprise but your Social Media is giving you anxiety. In fact, social media is the golden child of anxiety. You have multiple platforms that are calling for your attention, all of which were meticulously designed by professionals to grab and hold your attention. Yes, social media is designed to be addicting, and those responsible have been wildly successful.The scary part is, they keep making it more addicting and more fast-paced. Fast isn’t fast enough anymore For example, Instagram used to simply be scrolling through a feed and looking a pictures for a second or two. Now, it has stories that allow users to click their thumb like rapid fire in order to move on to the next picture, somehow managing to spend even less time on each picture.
To make matters even worse, social media consists of discussions, topics, pictures, and more that make us feel many negative emotions such as jealousy or anger. Your Uncle from Idaho posts a rant about gun-control that puts you in a tizzy, or a friend from high school posts about her perfect life with her baby that never cries, husband that is perfect, and dog that always behaves. Next thing you know, you are either fired up composing a response or feeling lousy about your life because you don’t have some of these things.
Solution: There are many different approaches to handling social media induced anxiety. The first step is to use it properly. Set a designated time that you will allow yourself to use it and hold yourself accountable. When using it, remember that not everything you see is as it seems.People usually post just the good things in their lives so you’re not getting the baby crying at 3:00 am, the husband picking a fight, or the dog chewing the furniture. You get the sunshine, smiles, and unicorns. Yuck. For the moments when you want to scream at someone who posts a rant or opinion that makes your blood boil, remind yourself that it is just one person and everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if its wrong.
**Bonus tip: Hide your social media. Put it in a folder on your phone that you have to dig through to get to. Just by hitting a few extra buttons you give yourself time to say, “Do I really need to go on this right now?” You’ll be surprised how a simple tactic like this can work!
Without cellphones, laptops, and tablets, there is no social media and the anxiety we face would be substantially reduced. Technology, as discussed with social media, is addictive. How many times throughout your day do you pick up your phone? Whatever you think that number is, double it.How about this, have you ever hit the button to check what time it is then ten seconds after putting the phone down you realize you have no idea what time it is? Our devices are the superstorm of anxiety. They bring together the constant contact of email, texting, and calling with the social media platforms, games, internet, work, and everything
else that one can do with a device to create a constant pull on our attention.
Solution: Ditch the devices! Stop bringing your cellphone with you everywhere you go. When you are at work, put it on silent mode and put it in a drawer. If you go out somewhere, leave it in the car. At night, never bring it into the bedroom with you.By detaching yourself from your devices you will start to feel a sense of calm and relaxation. Sometimes we don’t realize the things that are grasping for our attention until we eliminate them. Your devices are the best place to start. To hold yourself accountable, designate a specific time to use your devices when you are planning out your week. To take this to the next level, designate specific places that you can use your devices (i.e., laptop in the office only, phone stays in the kitchen when I’m home, etc.).
4. Society of Drugs Treating Symptoms
In the past century, we have seen astronomical advances in medicine. Diseases that once killed massive amounts of people have been reduced to nothing. The advances that continuously occur are nothing short of amazing and have resulted in many saved lives. However, we are at a point in modern medicine that the pendulum has swung too far to one side.The treatment and cure for anxiety is often in the form of a tiny pill. We overprescribe medicines for anxiety because, frankly, that’s what our country does.
We look for the quick fix and the big-pharma companies gladly oblige. However, these treatments don’t come without a cost. There becomes a dependence on them and inability to function without them, or sometimes they simply do not work. If they do not work, that can be the cause for more
anxiety. Additionally, using medication is treating the symptom, not the root cause. If the cause of your anxiety is not getting fixed, then it does not matter what you do to the symptoms.
Solution: Start thinking holistically. Luckily for us, the aforementioned pendulum is starting to swing back the other direction. By taking a holistic approach to anxiety, or any condition for that matter, we start to attack the root problem and can eliminate what is causing the symptoms in the first place. Medication and other treatments should still be considered, but they should be used after taking a more natural approach and a focus on lifestyle and other means.
5. Being Socially Accepted More Important Than Being True to Self
With our constant contact to everyone and everything, it is difficult to take time to reflect and determine who we really are. We are constantly being bombarded with the thoughts, opinions, and feelings of others. In a time when the internet can ruin any person’s life in an instant, it is difficult to stray away from what is commonly accepted. This can cause an extreme misalignment of values
, which in turn can lead to anxiety and dissatisfaction. If you are living your life by the standards of others, you are not meeting your own needs and it becomes very difficult for you to be happy.
Solution: Take time for yourself. Whether it be journaling, exercising, or simply sitting in a quiet room, take time to let your mind determine what is right and wrong, what you truly believe and want, and to sort through the noise. Check-in with yourself and make sure you are living the life that you want and not doing anything just because it is what someone else wants. Empower yourself, believe in your mind, and start paying attention to what you want.
6. The New Wild, Wild West
Along with our advancement in medicine, the past one-hundred-plus years or so have seen unimaginable progress in mankind. We have a countless number of inventions that were barely dreamed about a century before. We landed on the moon
for crying out loud!Although the advancements have lead us to where we are, there are many long-term effects of modern-day innovations that we do not know about simply because we have not had them long enough. Plastics, for example, are very useful and have been a staple of our lives for quite some time now. However, we are starting to realize that not all plastics are created equal and that they can have detrimental effects on our bodies such as, you guessed it anxiety and depression. This great tool that is practical, affordable, and efficient, is actually doing harm to us.
Solution: Go with what is proven. Try to avoid new products and inventions until most of the kinks have been worked out. Do your research and be hesitant to believe something until the results have been proven over a period of time. If you are interested in learning about the specificities of plastics and other estrogenics (chemicals that bind to your estrogen receptors and wreak havoc on your body, including causing anxiety), check out Estrogeneration: How Estrogenics Are Making You Fat, Sick, and Infertile by Anthony Jay.
7. Slowing Down Is No Longer the Norm
Slowing down used to be normal. People would take a full hour for lunch, read a book, go for a long walk, or simply sit around and wait. We have managed to make most of those things distant memories and replaced them with a mindset of “what am I doing next?” Our addiction to the fast-life has lead to a feeling of anxiety or even guilt when we have extra time. We think we should be doing something else or that we are not being productive as we should be. This inevitably leads to burning out and trying to do more then we can handle.
Solution: Learning how to slow down needs to be taught. It should start in our school systems with longer recess times for play and strategies to detach from devices, such as meditation or breathing techniques. Journaling (with pen and paper) should be used and students should be given the time to practice these daily in the hopes of developing effective habits. For those of us that are beyond school-age, we should take the responsibility to educate ourselves. Discover different resources that can help slow life down and remind ourselves that simply being is just enough sometimes.
Food is one of the most prevalent yet overlooked causes of anxiety. There is an indisputable connection between the health of our gut and our mental wellbeing
. When we make poor nutrition choices, our bodies do not function properly. It really is that simple! In order to run at your absolute best, you must put the absolute best fuel in your body.Where it becomes complex, however, is determining what foods are actually good for your body. We are fed so much information that it becomes nearly impossible to determine what the right food choices are and we, despite our best efforts, are unable to find foods that work for us. This can add to the situation and make our anxiety even worse!
Solution: Start paying attention to how foods make you feel. Just by being conscious of how you respond to foods can help you understand what foods you should and should not be eating. Many of us don’t realize how poorly certain foods make us feel because we are not paying attention to it. Make it a point to acknowledge how you respond to foods, whether it is taking a mental note or starting a food journal.The best place to clean up your diet is to eat whole, natural foods and eliminate added sugars. Pay extra attention to grain-based foods as those are a problem for many people, particularly those with anxiety related symptoms.
There it is, 8 Anxiety Red Flags! What do you think of our list? Leave your comments below!