The Number 1 Reason for Stress and Anxiety
In my previous post I researched and shared the nine most common reasons for stress and anxiety in the United States. Usually the list has the same issues that the world is grappling with – Stress and anxiety related to work, finances, unemployment, people are stressed out because of relationships, health issues, he economy, the future the past; but there is a new entrant into that list; and it has made such an impact with its first appearance that it has taken the spot of all other stressors and left them behind.
The topmost common and concerning reason for stress and anxiety in the United States today is the coronavirus.
Not just the illness but the consequences of the illness. Its impact on the society, its impact on the economy, its impact on employment, everything is related. Isolation is the new norm; people have lost their peace of mind. Peace of mind that we did not even know we had before this bizarreness started.
Face masks, hand sanitizers, lock downs, Govt imposed restrictions that sometimes feel like a curfew – this is the new normal now, globally. It is what the whole world is talking about, these are some very peculiar times, feels like a plot right out of a science fiction movie.
If somebody had told me in 2019 that there would be a virus that would force the world to stay home, and cause so much chaos, insanity, stress and anxiety, a virus that resulted in human beings being terrified of other human beings, I’d tell them to go find their lost marbles.
6 Lessons that I Learned from 2020 and You Should Too
There is a lesson to be learned in everything, life teaches you more when it is not going the way you had planned. But to learn from these stressful situations, you need to open yourself up, open your mind to the lessons that you can take in from every little problem you are faced with.
There are ways to strengthen the body, we go to the gym to strengthen our muscles, we take vitamins to strengthen our system, what about our minds? Our emotional strength? Equally if not more important than anything else. Stress is vital for survival, in small doses it motivates us, in large doses, it can destroy us internally and even kill us. Let’s take the number 1 stressor today and turn it into something positive. Let’s turn this into life lessons:
1. Reduce Stress and Anxiety by Slowing Down
As a believer, I honestly believe nothing happens without reason. Every single event, regardless how little or catastrophic, has been brought to us for a reason. What could the reason be for this crazy quarantine causing virus? It means we need to slow down. We need to spend more time doing the little things in life that bring us peace of mind. We need to calm down!
We are running after success, money, fame, goals constantly, and while it is great to have goals and ambitions. As Danny Tanner very eloquently stated “Too much of anything is not good, yes even ice cream.” There needs to be a balance, we need to slow down physically and mentally.
Feeling stressed out and uncertain about the past, present or future? Smell the flowers, sit out in the backyard and gaze aimlessly at the sky, the shapes of the clouds, listen to some music for peace of mind. Get drenched in the rain, it is a lot of fun, you might catch a cold so do not quote me on that one but yes, it is a fantastic way to destress. Stop running, slow down, take a walk instead.
2. Find Comfort in your Own Company
Finding comfort in your own company is crucial. I see people going crazy all over the world, as if staying at home is the worst thing that could happen to them. What happened to the appeal of “Netflix and Chill”? The whole world seemed to want it, all of us wanted just to have one month of doing nothing. Here it is! We have it! It has been forced on up.
And dare I say, this was the only way we would ever get it – A few weeks of staying home and doing nothing! Is it really that hard to live with yourself? If it is then we need to re-think our lives. There is strength in being OKAY living internally occasionally, without any external stimuli. Imagine not needing anybody to be happy!
This year, almost every nation worldwide was forced to stay home, in fact failing to comply with those orders were an act of crime and punishable by law. Many people all around India were arrested for being seen outside during lockdowns. For many, it was a requirement to go out and work to be able to eat that day. However, for many, it was just an act of rebellion.
There is power in loving your own company. You build your own peace of mind. There is strength in isolation, of course this should not lead to loneliness and agoraphobia; that is a whole other story. But think of it this way, if you are happy in your own company, without needing any body else to entertain you, how amazing would your life be? You meet people, make friends, because you genuinely want to, not because you need to, to get away from yourself.
3. We really need an Internet Quarantine
Technology has consumed us! Literally, need I say more? Could we get through this self-isolation without social media? Without YouTube? without Netflix? Without Tick Tock? Without Video Games? If all of these were also part of the “Stay away from” list, what would we do? I have been wanting to read more, but have I? NO! I do not know a lot of people who are spending this time reading books. I am wondering if we will ever have an internet quarantine.
What would that be like? Imagine a month of no internet, just going out and spending all your time outdoors? reading books? Playing board games? Do not know about you, but I am intrigued! Maybe a month without the internet is just what the doctor ordered. Maybe a month without the internet, will make us see what us is around directly through our eyes, and not through our screens.
Maybe a month without the internet will help us our addiction to it, or at least help many realize that they are addicted to it. Maybe a month without the internet, will reduce stress and anxiety. Think of the 1990s, no cell phones, no computers, no internet, no WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube. Just our friends, our families, our lives, home picnics, the outdoors. Just thinking about those times brings me peace of mind.
We live in a world where we cannot imagine our lives without the internet, after all, I wont even be able to post this blog post without access to the internet. I will not have a job without the internet, But how about this? How about minimizing the amount of time we mindless scroll down our Instagram? how about minimizing the amount of time we check our messages every day?
How about minimizing the amount of time we spend on watching prank videos on YouTube, how about we spend that time building a hobby? A career? A plan? Coloring? Painting? Learning a new skill? Meeting our neighbors? Catching a movie, a cup of coffee with an old friend? I am already trying to make this change into my life. Let’s do this together!
4. We Cannot Plan Everything – There is Peace in Knowing That
Destiny is real! Weddings have been postponed, graduations have been cancelled, family vacations have been delayed. When we plan events like this, we think about the weather, or we pray for everyone’s health. Never do we EVER prepare for “what if a crazy virus infects the world, and we are asked to cancel the wedding?”. Destiny is just that. It is unpredictable, it is pre-written. It is scary but also there is peace of mind in knowing.
It is calming to realize that we do not have to plan everything because what is meant to be…WILL BE! It helps reduce stress and anxiety to be aware that we cannot and should not try to think of every single event in our lives. Instead of fretting over trying to control every aspect of your life, learn to sit back sometimes, breathe, slowly, and smile knowing that destiny will unfold, regardless of your plans, or you stressing out about it.
5. The Most Basic Need is the Need to Survive
Maslow’s Need Hierarchy is real! Before the Covid19 shook the world at its core, we were obsessing over impeachments, political propaganda, religious warfare, Climate Control, Elections and then, suddenly, the whole world was preoccupied with the need for survival.
Stocking up on groceries and medication and toilet paper became the new norm. All united in this need for survival, fighting the same enemy, united by this strangeness, at least temporarily. Nothing can cause more stress and anxiety than the human and animal need to survive, to live and to live in peace.
6. Never Take Anything for Granted
This crazy year taught me never to take anything for granted. It was the things that we did not even think twice before doing that were taken away from us – Being able to spend time with friends, family, going out for a walk, taking your dogs out for a walk, sharing a cup of coffee or tea with your best friends, inviting your brother or sister over for dinner.
How about, going to sleep without stressing out about waking up with a strange illness? Hugging your parents without fearing for their life. Being able to leave your house without a mask, being able to go to a restaurant and working on your laptop in peace, not overusing the hand sanitizer and feeling your skin stretch and dry out in anguish. Not having to sanitize your groceries before storing everything in the refrigerator.
I do not know about you, but these are things I thought would never change. These are things we do not even feel grateful for, because these are so little, right? These things could never be taken from us? We were never going to not hug our loved ones. However, all these simple, everyday things were impacted this year, and if it can happen once, it can happen again. The thought of meeting strangers on the road caused stress and anxiety this year. Bottom line is, never take anything for granted. You wake up in the morning and breathe? Be grateful!
Let’s all learn from this. Let’s take the lessons we learn from this into the future, the future after quarantine needs to be different. Once this is all over and we continue living exactly the way we lived before, then what was it all for? What was the point of this year? What was the point of corona and quarantine? There is ALWAYS a point, there is always a lesson, there is always a change that needs to be made. Let’s move forward to 2021 with that change in mind.