So you've had a stressful week. You had to do some extra long hours to stay on top of things and make sure you've got enough money at the end of the month. The stress has you sleeping rough all week and you've woken up groggy every morning with barely enough energy to get up let alone make breakfast. So you reached for the coffee and got on with the day on an empty stomach. By the end of the week you're exhausted, accidentally falling asleep in front of the TV, maybe you feel like you're catching a cold too. Next week you'll get back into your swing of things.
Have you ever watched a nature documentary and thought "geez, can't this fish just catch a damn break?!". For a lot of the animal kingdom, predator or pray, being on the look out for potential threats is their natural way of being. They don't have therapy rooms and spas to escape to from the day to day stress of nature. They don't have antidepressants or counseling to help them through the death of a relative. When is an animal free of anxiety?
I used to think being an animal looks like such a lovely way to live. How relaxing to wallow in the mud like a hippopotamus or roll in the dirt like a lion. But that freedom and fun comes at the price of long-standing anxiety. We like to fantasise that we are sophisticated humans with technology that protects us from the stress we felt in the wilderness. But the reality is that we still feel this stress every day. We are still on the look out for threats. They just come in different forms.
Which made me wonder, is it actually ok for us to be in a constant state of anxiety? After all, animals seem to be. Then it dawned on me. They experience both things; anxiety and relaxation.
The thing is, animals are very good at being present. They relax at every opportunity they get, and they are anxious whenever that's needed. Humans don't seem to be so good at switching between these two states. We seem to get stuck in anxiety. Have you ever been on a (relatively) harmless escalator* in reality but in a terrifying job interview in your mind? Or in a (relatively) harmless lift** but wondering if the kids are eating choking hazards at nursery?
We must remember to catch ourselves when anxiety strikes in these otherwise harmless scenarios. Trust that we will get the rush of adrenaline at just the right moment and stop wasting it on the (relatively) harmless escalator or lift ride instead. It reassures me to see that we're not the only things in the animal kingdom suffering with anxiety attacks. Perhaps long-term acute stress is something we've evolved to be able to deal with. Hopefully I can stop worrying and worrying now...
*I don't want to scare you with the tiny number of people that die on escalators so I won't. **Or all the people killed in lifts which fall down the shaft after a spy/baddie cuts the wires...
What are your favourite tips for getting yourself out of pointless anxiety? Leave a comment below.
Not everybody knows this but I sometimes struggle with anxiety attacks. They're not your typical attack as they go straight to my tummy instead. But the fear of having one can itself become such a problem that it has stopped me from going in to London, socialising or going to new places.
Adventure needs to be thrust upon us from time to time. Otherwise it is all too easy to become anxious and depressed at the monotony of life. We can become fearful of anything outside of that. Going from point a to b in a straight line is all I do. To do anything else felt illogical and a waste of my precious energy. That is until one day.
I don't like to call myself an empath as I think it implies some kind of magical power. It often feels more like an affliction than a strength most of the time. But I guess, in my head, it's also a magical power. You see, for all the side effects it brings I wouldn't trade it for the world.