Whether you’re waiting for a train, commercials to end or the oven to finish preheating, you likely kill those brief moments by mindlessly scrolling or swiping across your phone screen. You’re not alone in this new normal. During our day-to-day lives, most of us live with our cell phones perpetually within close reach — mostly to Google a dinner spot, text a friend, or scroll through Instagram. But those who constantly reach for their smartphones might be doing so due to anxiety or depression.
While there’s plenty about modern life that makes our day-to-day easier, there’s also a lot of aspects that can cause and perpetuate anxiety. Sure, we’ve got a world of information and thousands of apps at our fingertips, but is that really a good thing? Did people in the olden days, in a way, have it easier than we do? I mean, anxiety was a thing in 400 BC, just ask Hippocrates. But did the ancient Greeks have to deal with Instagram or deciphering cryptic text messages (or lack thereof) from a someone he went on a date with last night? Nope.
Here are some common modern life stressors — and more importantly, what you can do to cope with them.
Most of us can recall moments of anxiety where our chests tightened, our pulses raced, and fear washed over us. For those suffering from anxiety disorders — the most common mental illness in the U.S. — these symptoms pale in comparison to the hyperventilation, dizziness, and extreme panic associated with chronic anxiety.
The U.S. has been unceremoniously dubbed the most anxious nation on Earth, and anxiety sufferers on all ends of the spectrum work diligently to ward off these negative experiences. But is anxiety always bad?
The quick answer: It depends.
Situational feelings of anxiety — not chronic anxiety — can actually be good for you. Here’s why…
“This Viral Tweet Is Helping Couples Support Each Other During Anxiety Attacks” originally appeared on Fairy God Boss, an advice blog that makes it easier for you to take care of yourself.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults ages 18 and older every year — that’s 18.1 percent of the population. Anxiety develops from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events, and people with anxiety disorders are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer. But only 36.9 percent of those who deal with it receive treatment and, even for those who do, dealing with their anxiety is no easy feat. For couples, anxiety disorders can cause conflicts if they don’t communicate well.
Anxiety can be a nebulous emotion. Sometimes it’s obvious you’re worrying — even Doctor Obvious could diagnose you if you’re spending four sleepless hours each night fretting over your big move. But sufferers of generalized anxiety might not be able to identify obvious triggers or realize some of their worst habits stem from the stress. You may recognize your odd, changing behavior, but you can’t identify why — and the uncertainty only creates more stress.
Here are six behaviors that signal that your anxiety needs more attention, or even the help of a professional therapist.
What the hell am I gonna do in a pitch black chamber for an hour with literally nothing but myself and 10 inches of water?
This is all I could think right after committing to an hour-long sensory deprivation session. I’m fine with being alone — but without my iPhone, a book, or vision? What was I going to do? How would I shut my mind off? Anytime I try to meditate, I hyperventilate, and I’m not a fan of stillness or deep breathing exercises. I found myself becoming anxious at the thought of … something that is supposed to bring me complete and utter relaxation. The irony.
I was 18 the first time I smoked weed. Unlike most other pot-smoking 18 year olds, I did it for medicinal purposes — honestly! In fact, I was very anti-weed, and admittedly, judgy towards people who smoked. The year prior, I was the vice president of the Students Against Destructive Decisions club at my school.
However, desperate times called for desperate measures. My anxiety was at an all-time high during my freshman year in college. I had trouble adjusting (to say the least). I came home almost every weekend to try to seek solace in my comfort zone. But my stress level was so horrible that even being home couldn’t help.
Forty dollar, potentially toxic “raw” water. Pricey massages. A $400 juicing machine that doesn’t even juice. These days, wellness is big business. The average person is constantly bombarded with hot new wellness trends promising to make them healthier, happier, and more relaxed. Many of these products and services praise the benefits of self-care, or prioritize the self to de-stress, enjoy life, and prevent burnout.
Of course, this brand of self-care is drenched in irony. By making self-care into a task to check off the to-do list in your hectic schedule, many wellness trends create yet another yardstick to measure yourself by. At the same time, these trends can come with hefty price tags, making it sound like taking care of yourself requires a fancy, Silicon Valley-level paycheck.
This post is part of our #TherapyHelpedMe series for Mental Health Awareness Month. Talkspace shares stories of how therapy helps people of all backgrounds work through the daily challenges of modern life.
In my early twenties, I was lost. I could tell something was wrong with me. My friends were all away attending universities, learning and excited, actively participating in being alive. I was living with my parents, playing hours of World of Warcraft and having panic attacks in my car before attending local community college classes.
I had always been a bit of an odd duck. It took me longer to reach the same milestones as my peers: I learned to drive later, I got my first boyfriend later, I attended college later, and I got my first job later as well. And worse, I was not interested in a whole lot. I did not find my existence to be meaningful or my life to be particularly enjoyable.
The human brain and body are designed to handle one-off anxiety reactions like a champ. The body gets flooded with chemicals such as the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which prepare you for a fight or flight response. Resources such as blood flow are diverted to areas of the body that prime us for action.
It’s common to feel keyed up during these moments, as heart rate, sweating, and muscle tension increase. As soon as the threat has passed, the chemicals discharge and we return back to a normal, balanced state. From this perspective ― tied to running away from predatory animals in the early days of human life ― anxiety is not only normal, it’s a healthy adaptive response designed to keep us safe.