Anyone else feeling anxious…?

What strange and difficult times we are living in. We humans are pretty flexible beings, able to withstand and even triumph over adversity when it comes knocking. Adjusting to life during a worldwide pandemic – wow, okay, we can do this. Add in global economic uncertainty – hmmm, that’s a pretty big double whammy, but sure, okay, we still got this. Excellent, but what happens when we add a global climate crisis threatening the planet, massive civil unrest in response to centuries of racial discrimination, legitimate threats to a democratic way of life south of our border, wildfires burning out of control sending toxic smoke choking the air we take for granted, just to list a few additional little stressors…?

What happens when all of this and more makes up our reality every day? However strong or positive or optimistic we are, it takes its toll. Our brains were built to respond to threat in a particular way. Our hearts pump faster, oxygenating our muscles for a fight or a quick get away. Adrenaline floods our system, priming us for that fight or flight. Our higher brain functions, the ones that help you sort out your priorities, make rational decisions and reason your way through things, go on lock down, simplifying functions for quick, intuitive reactions. Except, that tiger isn’t leaving. The pack of wolves has camped out and continues to circle. The threats aren’t going away any time soon. We soldier on with our daily activities, doing our best to adapt and create a “new normal”. Trouble is, our bodies are still reacting.

As a result, many of us (if not most of us) are walking around with constant, ever-present low grade anxiety. We feel a bit nervous, maybe our blood pressure is slightly elevated, we’re less patient, we have trouble concentrating, making decisions. And then, ironically, our anxiousness makes us even more anxious. Maybe we admit this to people, able to talk about it openly, freely, or maybe we keep it tightly under wraps, wilfully ignoring it or fearing what others will think. Either way, it takes its toll.

But wait, this is supposed to be a mediation blog – what the heck does a piece about anxiety have to do with mediation? Simply put, I guess, everything. Anxiety affects how we feel about ourselves, how we relate to others, how we react, how we disagree, and can seriously derail our ability to agree, take responsibility or cooperate.

So what do we do with this? I don’t want to suggest I have all the answers – these are definitely uncharted waters. But I do know that there is strength in acknowledging it. Even the simple act of naming what’s going on takes away its power. And while you may not be able to control what’s going on in the world, or even your body’s response to it, there is strength in understanding and accepting it – taking away the nebulous fear, looking it in the face and saying “I know you”.

And there is strength in numbers. Strength in knowing others feel what you feel, fear what you fear, and are reacting the same way you are reacting. You are not alone, in fact, you’re part of a whole community of human beings who are built the same way.

Most of all, cut yourself some slack. This is a tough world to navigate right now. Don’t expect perfection. Remember to breathe, and be kind to yourself.

Posted on September 23rd, 2020 by Renee