Is Anxious the New Normal? Take Back Your Real Normal
It seems that being anxious is the new normal. Statistics compiled by organizations like Child Mind Institute1 and the National Institute of Mental Health2 illuminate how extensive the anxiety problem is: In the US alone, tens of millions of children, teens, and adults experience an anxiety disorder. That doesn't even include the staggering number of people who struggle with anxiety but don't have a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Anxiety is on the rise, too. Life is stressful, busy, and often filled with negativity. It is now "normal" to be anxious. You don't have to accept this. It's possible to take back your real normal.
Why Anxious Is the New Normal
Anxious appears to be the new normal state of being for so very many people. No one is immune to anxiety because anxiety is part of the human condition. It functions as a motivator and a protector. As such, it's supposed to wax and wane, to come and go in an appropriate response to stressors. What has happened, though, is that life itself has seemingly become a stressor.
We are constantly bombarded by stress such as:
- Work pressure
- School challenges
- Family issues
- Financial worries
- Social media stress
- News exposure
- Technology stress
- Time pressures
Rarely do we get a reprieve from this stress and anxiety. Few, if anyone, want to be gripped by anxiety nearly every day. Most people don't want to be anxious people. The good news is that anxiety isn't who you are at your core. You don't have to accept anxiety as a permanent part of your life and yourself.
How to Take Back Your Real Normal
Being anxious becomes a state of existence by accident. Whether or not it's a full-blown disorder, anxiety often sneaks up insidiously. Get rid of your anxious state of existence on purpose, with intention. Try these tips to take back your life.
Regaining your own wonderful sense of normal--being the way you want to be in your life--can begin with awareness. Begin to pay attention to when you're anxious and how your anxiety is expressing itself. Gaining insight into your unique patterns of anxiety will help you reduce anxiety by meeting it at its specific source.
Separate Yourself from Your Anxiety
By the time anxiety has become so intense that it has tricked us into thinking that being anxious is just how we are, we have forgotten much of ourselves. Anxiety becomes all-consuming. It's how we think, how we feel, what we see when we look in the mirror, and how we act.
Make a point of separating yourself from anxiety. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) calls this defusion because you're de-fusing anxiety's hot button. If, for example, you find yourself worrying that your child is going to fail his math test and from there imagining all sorts of horrible consequences, notice the anxiety and then change your language slightly. Remind yourself "I'm having the thought that my child is going to fail . . ." It's a thought. It isn't reality right now. Continue on in the moment.
Have fun with this one. You know that anxious isn't your normal state of existence. It just seems that way. Let anxiety just hover without tangling with it and then create a vision for yourself and your life ("Picture Yourself Free from Anxiety"). Who are you when anxiety isn't part of the picture? What are your passions? Strengths? Desires? Values? Dreams? Take your time developing these, and create little action plans to realize your vision.
Numerically, anxious is the new normal. Practically, for yourself and your life, anxious is not your normal. You can take back your real normal.
1. Child Mind Institute. Anxiety and Depression in Adolescence. Accessed August 15, 2018.
2. National Institute of Mental Health. Any Anxiety Disorder. Accessed August 15, 2018.
Peterson, T. (2018, August 16). Is Anxious the New Normal? Take Back Your Real Normal, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, May 31 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2018/8/is-anxious-the-new-normal-take-back-your-real-normal