By Duane Hewitt

Anxiety is like waiting for a thunderclap. Anxiety is an underlying current within you that prevents you from feeling true peace and relaxation. Even if you’re strong and healthy, anxiety is like having a taught rubber band around your chest or tension in your body. It’s almost as if an invisible hand is putting pressure on your chest and is threatening to make your breathing difficult. Anxiety is like knowing that something is about to happen even if you can’t put your finger on it.

Anxiety can affect you endlessly, ceaselessly. It’s always ready to swell up, like a heavy blanket that’s about to be tossed over you. And anxiety can come from anywhere and at any time… driving or commuting on public transit, getting unexpected mail, like bills, getting a phone call from a number that you don’t recognize, or having new tasks to perform at work that you’re not comfortable with. It’s that clap of thunder that’s just waiting to happen.

Anxiety can come from a number of sources. A big part of it is something we picked up early in life or simply by living and moving through life as we do now. Consider: If you grew up in a household where money and the necessities of life were uncertain, you might now get anxious worrying about where your next meal is coming or from that stack of bills that you can’t bring yourself to open. So, instead, you maintain a certain managed level of anxiety while trying to avoid a major spike of anxiety. But it all works against you – causing more anxiety.

Uncertainties and unwanted surprises are typically the root of anxiety: Coming from a violent home can make you anxious about people, relationships, and violence. Job loss and the difficulties of looking for work can create a lifetime of anxiety about security. Having something come “out of left field” to undermine your plans and dreams can make you anxious about trying anything new. The list is endless.

One way to deal with anxiety might be to make your world smaller. The more things you have on your plate and the more things you manage can easily be a recipe for increased anxiety. Try it: try doing less. Stop spreading yourself so thin. And stop making so many promises to people. Cut yourself some slack, even if it means you aren’t perfect. As well, it might help you to compartmentalize. This means having a mental catalogue, a way of classifying who and what deserves your time and energy and by how much. It’s all about how you need to manage your world, not how the world manages you.

Conversely, you might be the kind of individual that needs lots of activity and lots of things going on. That’s good, too. We’re all meant to do things and to keep busy. It’s actually one key to happiness and so your busy lifestyle can help enormously with anxiety.

You know all the other stuff so there’s barely any point of mentioning it, but as a reminder… be sure to take good care of yourself. Eat properly, get exercise, get sufficient rest and sleep, and do things you enjoy. Prayer and meditation are good too because they can help calm oneself.

Finally, be sure to laugh and find humor in the craziness of the world. Laughter is a surefire way to beat the blues and it’s a good rudder against the flow of anxiety.

See: COVID-19 and Our Mental Health

Copyright 2020 Duane Hewitt.

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