Anxiety and What to do Instead
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
It can also describe a psychiatric condition, which is a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks. Medication is available to address this form of anxiety. This article does not address the psychiatric condition but instead addresses that worry and unease that we all feel at times.
There are several categories of anxiety.
1. About the past or the future.
This type of anxiety is about mentally leaving the present and dwelling on the past or the future. We can dwell on the past of what we could have done differently or how we could have avoided certain mistakes. Or how we could have done a better job of getting things done instead of procrastinating.
How often do you worry about the future whether it is next week or next year? Will we be able to take a vacation? Will the kids get good grades and be able to go to the college of their choice? Will there be enough money? Will we like the new neighbors that just moved in next door? Will we get along with the new employee? All these and many more anxiety provoking thoughts will resolve themselves in time. Worrying about them does nothing but rob us of peace of mind and joy in the present moment.
2. Confrontations and conversations.
I remember my mother thinking endlessly about what was said and how she might have said the wrong thing or something dumb. She would worry endlessly about her lack of communication skills. Most of the time this was a complete non-issue. Nobody paid much attention to how she expressed herself. It was all in her head.
Similarly we can fret endlessly about a difficult upcoming conversation. May be we want to ask our boss for a raise, or we have a performance review coming up. May be we are planning a confrontation with a friend who has hurt our feelings and we want to clear the air and let her know how it made us feel. We can fuss endlessly over what to say and how to say it, and chances are, in the end, it isn’t a big deal at all.
3. Duties and obligations of the day.
We can worry about all that needs to get done instead of focusing on the task at hand. Or we start one thing only to think of another task that needs to be done, start that one and after a day of starts and stops have nothing complete and a mess on our hands.
Enjoy the journey
So what shall we do instead? All through life we have goals and expectations. As we achieve certain goals, others come into view. It is easy to keep our eyes on the goal to the detriment of enjoying the present. Make time daily to appreciate the little things and have joy in your heart. Life is about the journey and we miss out on so much if we don’t play and put joy into every day. Create memories every day. Once the day is gone, the opportunity to appreciate and love the day is over. If a day is particularly stressful, just remember – this too shall pass.
And don’t despise the day where small things are happening. Everything starts small. Before we can walk or run we need to learn to crawl. When going to school, we start in first grade, not in high school. When learning to speak to groups we start with small groups and short speeches, before we are ever ready to talk for hours in front of hundreds of people. So enjoy the small first tentative steps in any new endeavor, not only the big successes that come later.