Anxiety Nation

anxietyI love language and play these little language games that nobody knows about but me (and now you.) I tune into a certain word, let’s say “worry” for a whole 24 hour period. This signals to me where the collective consciousness is focused. I listen to how many times I hear it from others, I see it on the news (if I’m bold enough to watch it), I read it in literature or magazines. Here’s what I’ll tell you. We are, no joke, a nation of worry warts.

It starts young. For the last 8 years, I have taught classes for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill which talk about all types of mental illnesses, but a key one that nearly everybody is affected by in one way or another is anxiety. I’m seeing it more and more with younger and younger people. Here’s how it goes.

anxiety3A person can move up this chart and hover in the top few categories of stress and anxiety for over an extended period of time, dropping in and out of panic attacks when certain triggers push up the mercury. Six months of that will give you a General Anxiety Disorder diagnosis and may also spring out some OCD, hoarding, and other sub-categories.  Just like any other mental illness, anxiety is a brain chemical issue, and if the brain continues to get hit with anxiety-causing neurotransmitters, medication can be a life saver. I’ve seen that make a crucial difference in the lives of many people I love.

So can environmental changes. The times in my life when I have found myself out of the relaxed section of the thermometer (which was much of my 20s and 30s) and up into the stressed categories, were when I just simply had too much going on and not the right kinds of things. I was in dysfunctional relationships. While I was making a high salary, I was working jobs I hated and jobs that were not anywhere near in sync with my life purpose. (In fact, if you would have talked to me about life purpose, my answer would have been “my only life purpose is to feed my baby” which I was doing on my own in a city without any family while working full time at those jobs I hated.)

I knew I needed a change the day I woke up and the room was spinning. I was in the middle of the only panic attack I’ve ever had and it was horrible. That day, I went in to my boss and quit with no idea how I was going to pay rent or feed my child. I just knew my health was being compromised and without my health, I couldn’t do those things anyway.

That was a turning point for me. I realized how much an environment can impact a person physically. I vowed to create, through intention, a more relaxed lifestyle that would keep my red down.

As a culture, though, we create this tension. We value it. We think it makes us grow. We get more, bigger, better toys if we work harder, longer, smarter. The message starts when we’re little with mommies in the Mommy and Me classes.

Mommy 1: Is Chad walking yet?

Mommy 2: Almost. The doctor said when he’s 3 months we can put him in a walking acceleration program. He’s been sleeping through the night since he was 6 hours old.

Mommy 1: Wow. You’re so lucky. Chad never sleeps. He’s too busy walking. He walked right out of the hospital, actually.

Mommy 2: Impressive.

So I’m prone to hyperbole, but variations on this conversation exist. I’ve heard them. I’ve been in them. You’re pregnant and you’re not on the waiting list? Which schools? When? Get them in early so they’re not behind. It goes on and on through the child’s life.

By the time they get to high school, they’re burnt out. I’ve seen it over and over. Now, it’s a race for college opportunities. Then, jobs. Then, better jobs–the ones that will help them accumulate the most stuff with the least amount of work. Then they’re the parents. Then, the cycle repeats.

And so many opportunities all along the way to worry.

A recent trend has intrigued me. It’s the “Keep Calm” trend. Why has it taken off?

anxiety2

Have you seen these shirts? Why are they so popular? Because everybody can identify with the cultural anx.

In a few weeks, I’ll be 50 years old. It’s taken me half a century to figure out how to keep the red down in the relaxed zone. For me, it takes a dedication to daily meditation (Ommmm), which means I really do it, not just talk about doing it. It also takes me using the filter of “does this thing that I’m doing right now line up with my life purpose” to consider EVERY decision. It’s a very conscious process. It takes trusting that I am a spiritual being living a human experience not just for myself, but to leave the world around me better than it was before I got here. This means, taking care of my body and my mind, which are the tools I need to complete said mission.

And, it takes knowing, really, that the only moment I have is the moment I’m in and that’s a gift.

calm1

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About jamieweilhealthcoach

I'm on a mind-body-spirit journey. At first, I thought health was about the physical body, but I'm discovering it's so much more than that. I've learned that it's more about serving and connecting with others than anything else. It's about being in the world in a blissful way. Before I blog, I meditate on what my readers need to hear--what will inspire them. Then, I write it. (www.getstrongblog.com)
This entry was posted in anxiety, bipolar disorder, conscious living, early onset bipolar disorder, facing your fears, Goals, habits, health, meditation, mental health, mental health and children, spiritual, subconscious. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Anxiety Nation

  1. Lois Sepahban says:

    Hi Jamie! This is such a timely post–I’ve been doing a lot of reading on helping kids (specifically Bella) cope with anxiety. Lisa (did you know she’s a child psych?) recommended them to me.

    Okay, first: happy birth month!

    Second: do you have some time later this week or next week to talk? I wanted to go over your chart with you.

    Lois xoxo

    >

    • Hi Lois! First, THANKS–I think you’re the first to wish me HB month so that makes me happy, thoughtful friend! Second, I did know about Lisa and let’s talk more about Bella when we talk later this week (Thursday morning around 11?)…and YAY! on the chart. Can’t wait! Thanks for being my friend. I just love you. xoxoJamie

  2. Thanks for writing about anxiety. The more people know about it (I can think of someone I’d like to send this to), the better we will all be. Nice job!

    • Hey, thanks, D. Yes, bringing these type of mental health issues out of the closet helps to destigmatize them so you’re welcome. It’s my mission to let people know they or their families are not alone. It seems to be increasing so much in our kids. Do you notice a shift? xo

  3. lorlinda says:

    I agree: in dealing with anxiety we need to keep the big picture in mind – “that we are spiritual beings living a human experience,” and that spending our time worrying is not part of our life’s purpose. It’s so easy (too easy) to get caught up in the minutia of life. Thank you for reminding me that keeping my eye on the ball is not standing on top of it but actually standing back so that I can see the whole picture. Lorlinda

    • Most welcome, Lorlinda. I always love that “spiritual beings living a human experience.” I say that to myself almost every day so I remember to soak up all the sensory details that are so lovely about being here on earth. Here’s to “whole picture living!” Thanks for dropping by and shouting out. J

  4. Janet says:

    All the advertising of prescription medications do nothing to empower individuals to breathe, pause and refocus on their own.

    • True. However, I have seen meds make a huge difference, giving somebody a starting point to breathe, pause, and refocus. My favorite, of course, is meditation, but it’s not easy to sell the teens on this. I do love the EFT that Damien speaks of in another comment. This is all natural, totally works, and it’s free. Works anywhere! The more you know…

  5. Great article Jamie. I devoured it so quickly, to see if you talked about using EFT(Tapping) to clear out any anxiety, stress, or tension that may arise due to this fast paced society we live in. What say you sis?

    • I didn’t cover that, Damien, but I do love EFT for that! Such an easy, do-anywhere thing and I have used it and taught others to use it (including my kids) as well. Thanks for bringing that up, brah.:)

  6. Katherine Wenglikowski says:

    OMG you’re not 50 yet???? Hurry up!

    k

  7. P.E.A.C.E. says:

    Beautiful writing Jamie, I love every word of this. I recall working at jobs that sucked the life out of me because my ‘life purpose’ was caring for my 2 babies (solo, like you). But every morning I prayed at my altar including ringing a bell and saying my affirmations aloud. One day I slept in and didn’t do it and my younger son (about 7) asked why he didn’t hear the bell today? He shared that he really liked listening to me do that. How that melted my heart, and helped me realize I was showing my sons how to remain relaxed, and focus on what we DO want (they never heard me complain about those hateful jobs but they sure heard me celebrate with joy when I landed the right one!). Thanks for sharing that there is another way, and we can chose to not follow what everyone else is doing and watching. Let’s chose to role-model relaxation and high-vibrational energy. Oh and your hyperbole makes me laugh out loud, another way to release anxiety! You are a blessing. With gratitude, Gina xo

  8. What a great story, Gina! I loved reading that–thanks so much for sharing that. Love that focus on what we DO want. What you appreciate, appreciates. YOU are a blessing, my friend. Jamie

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