Updated: Jul 30
How did it come to this?
I can’t speak for previous eras but notwithstanding the obvious increases in world population, how did the world we live in become so worried? Generalised anxiety is now a worldwide term, to simply describe the permanent low level of arousal many of us experience. It may not mean that we are all a bit jumpy, but do we have less capacity to cope than ever, or is there simply more to cope with than ever? It’s both I think. In fact I’m worried a bit about writing this :) .
The list of things to worry about in the world is as long as your arm. So frankly there is little point listing it all. The world has always been in chaos, but now due to technology we know more about chaos occurring globally in places you had barely heard of before, in living colour and audio in the palm of your hand. You can even replay it as many times as you like. Don’t replay it.
I understand from history that the 50’s were pretty good in some parts of the world. It was post WW2, and mass marketing accompanied mass manufacturing with a litany of time saving products, and everyone who wanted to work could, homes looked big enough, neighbours friendly and kids well behaved.
At least that’s what ads from that era looked like. It could be argued rightly that to look at ads is a fanciful measure of the world’s harmony, but as an ex- adman they are a valuable time capsule of our aspirations, even if we didn’t know at the time, we aspired to a machine that housed a fridge, freezer, oven and washing machine all the in the one device. A man must have designed that, for men never to use. Shrewd.
I’m loathe to make generalisations about various Gen Xers or other generations so I’ll stick to my story, as “they” did not call it generalised anxiety when I was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. Maybe you were described as “too sensitive” or “highly strung” but the area of permanent worry was not mentioned. So I’m positing that as kids of that era, our so called “anxiety symptoms” were largely ignored, as parents of day read childrearing advice from a Dr Ben Spock, ( no not Leonard ) of whom I think began to recant some of his ideas on the little ones some decades later. When I grew up there was a lot of…. “its a phase they go through”.
You were allowed a little latitude when it came to “worry” around exam times, big athletic events you were involved in and whether your football team would make the finals. Worries in those days were for adults. Well that was something look forward to.
Then when I got to adulthood, some cat was on the radio was singing “Don’t worry be happy” - are you outta your mind?? Look out the window!
So, lets skip a few decades and ensconce ourselves in present day. What is the prevailing mood? If we substitute the word stressed for anxious, then it’s safe to say that anxiety is rife in this always on, time poor, cancel culture, neo cold war, climate change, “bugger I’m late” world. Oh, I forgot please add COVID19.
Yes, our brain is hard wired to attend to negative items as a necessary default mechanism to preserve life and avoid danger. So, you are designed to survive. But thrive in an anxious world? That’s the role of your mind not brain.
That’s the role of your spirit. So inasmuch as your brain is doing the heavy lifting with its conscious and unconscious radar on 24/7 sweeping for danger, you must take action with anxiety.
The old fashioned definition that anxiety is a fear of the future is still in part true, but what if you are simply in fear of FEAR, constantly? Im a great believer in non clinical treatment. I have huge respect for western medicine, but the major drug companies have not evolved the SSRI family of drugs materially since the release of Prozac now some thirty years ago.
Try this - sex, chocolate, good music, aerobic exercise, have laugh and mediation ( will stimulate endorphins) | dump fatty and sugary foods they create pro inflammatory cytokines (bad for brain inflammation )| - learn something new ( creates new dendrites in the brain ) | - get exposure to sunlight everyday ( activates serotonin) | - cuddle, kiss, eye contact, play with kids and pets, and fit in a massage (activates the social hormone oxytocin) - do this more than obsessive rumination .
If you really want to shine place this into a calendar and spend more time moving towards to life and feelings you want and accept uncomfortable feelings are primally ported into your brain for a good reason.