Do you sometimes feel worried on Sunday when you are supposed to relax? Perhaps you worry about next week, your unrealized dreams and plans, and important things you never have time to do. Finally, you worry that you spent so much time worrying that you didn’t fully rest as you planned. If this sounds familiar, you might be experiencing Stresslaxing or SMonday, or both at the same time. Stresslaxing means that you are already so stressed and anxious that you are stressed while relaxing because you think you are wasting time. SMonday means the fear and anxiety when you think about the upcoming working week. Neither of these is nice to experience.
Do you often get sick after the end of a big important project when you’d finally have time to rest? After waiting for all the precious free time so much, now you just lay down in bed, unable to do anything nice. There is a name for this: holiday sickness. Unfortunately, it is a widespread phenomenon in the modern world.
Finally — have you ever felt like you never have time for your important tasks but instead spend all day firefighting? Do you find yourself periodically scrolling mindlessly on social media, eating junk food, and feeling guilty afterward, or do you sometimes lose yourself in self-pitying thoughts? If this sounds like you, you might be a member of the chronic anxiety club. Fortunately — or perhaps, unfortunately — you’re not alone. In the modern world, anxiety is more present than ever.
This is a speculative — but so truthful — comparison table between a modern person and a cave dweller (Hector Garcia, Francesc Miralles, Ikigai)
|Cave dwellers||Modern Western humans|
|Were relaxed most of the time||Work most of the time and are alert to any and all threats|
|Felt stress only in very specific
|Are online or waiting for notifications from their cell phones twenty-four hours a day|
|The threats were real: a predator
could end their lives at any
|The brain associates the ping of a cell phone or an e-mail notification with the threat of a predator|
|High doses of cortisol and
adrenaline at moments of danger
kept the body healthy
|Low doses of cortisol flow constantly through the body, with implications for a range of health problems, including adrenal fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome|
Here are a few practical tips on how to quit being a member of the chronic anxiety club:
Practice being less self-critical and perfect. It is tough because ever since elementary school and its grading system, we’ve been trained to strive for perfection. This is not healthy. Perfectionism leads to unrealistically high personal standards, a preoccupation with one’s own mistakes, low self-confidence, a desire to control everything, and selective filtering of information to emphasize our failures and mistakes. Give yourself the mandate to not be perfect but a loving parent or partner, to be good in specific work tasks, but not in all of them, and to be easy on yourself in general.
Limit your screen usage. It sounds trivial, but too much screen time is harmful. Attention (the likes) we get on social media creates a dopamine addiction, making us crave more and more. It takes our time that we could use for something more useful. When we are staring at the phone, we are not living in the moment; we’re barely living at all.
Practice peaceful slow time and time for yourself. It is difficult in our hectic world. Try this exercise: for a few weeks, once per day, walk at a pace that is half of your normal speed. Walk this way for at least 20 minutes. You will struggle in the beginning. You will be surprised how people are running around you. They will look at you in astonishment, thinking what the matter with this person is and why they walk so slowly. This exercise will help you to slow down.
If you want to know more about anxiety and how to deal with it, you’re welcome to the Good Life Engine workshop on 6.10 in AGrid, Mordor, at 10.00. Also, you still have time to register for the Good Life Engine course.