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7 Modern Sources of Anxiety & How to Cope


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It is no secret that anxiety cases have become more and more prevalent in recent years. This is especially true for teens and young adults, but anxiety can affect people of all ages, in all stages of life. The sheer amount of opportunities and possibilities that are available to us can be difficult for one to find a grasp on. This hits people in the prime ages of their lives hardest (ages 18-55) as the stresses of making a living, maturing from child to independent adult, becoming a provider, intellectual, and sexual development all crash together. Others may suffer from anxiety from specific traumas, genetic mutations or chemical imbalances. With such a range of sources and spectrums of severity, this is a very difficult problem to solve in broad strokes. That being said, there are ways to help cope by making attempts to simplify or change behaviours within our own lives. Here are 7 sources of anxiety you might be suffering from, and tips on how you can try to help yourself:

1. Comparing yourself to others

Now with everyone and their grandma is on social media today, we passively and subconsciously compare our own lives to others though social media updates and feeds. We watch TV and compare who we want to be to the examples set by our favourite characters. Research and studies have found a direct correlation between heavy social media use and strong feelings of depression and envy. What many people fail to realize, is the lives people out on display online are edited and cropped to filter out their own insecurities. Many social media profiles are unrealistic to the actual lives of the person they represent. A picture of someone at a fancy event leaves out the fact that they may have had a horrible time and didn’t want to be there in the first place.

Find comfort in your own routines and set goals for the week that you can accomplish. These goals can be personal projects or activities, or reaching out to friends. Following through and achieving these simple goals is a great first step into feeling accomplished. Social media is a great tool to connect, find inspiration, and stay connected to whats going on, but should be kept as a tool to add depth to real world experiences. And don’t forget to take days at a time without logging onto social media to breathe and gain perspective.

2. Idle timeshutterstock_793940824

It becomes much easier to overthink or overanalyze your situation when you are not engaged in work or hobby. Remaining in a non-busy or under-stimulated state gives your brain time to obsess over trivial things, adding to your feelings of anxiety. If you find yourself feeling anxious while watching Netflix marathons or lying in bed, make an effort to plan new activities around those times.

You don’t have to give up your favourite show or sleeping in, but finishing small projects or learning something new can keep you stimulated and distracted from stressing over little things. Setting achievable goals or plans and executing on them can have a direct effect on your happiness and confidence. Yoga can be a good way to practice reducing the fast paced thoughts you feel when staying idle.

3. Living a busy life

In contrast to idle time, if you have little balance between your own needs and the needs of your responsibilities to work, relationships and extracurriculars, you can find yourself feeling stressed and anxious often. If you have always been leading a hectic life, you might take the constant worry and stress as a normal experience.

The truth is, everyone should strive for balance between the different facets of life. You should have time to spend with family, work, your significant other, and friends while leaving opportunities to improve and find fulfillment within yourself. Remember, it is ok to not be busy all the time. Everything in moderation is a great rule of thumb to consider when planning your days, weeks, and months.

4. Desire to constantly please others

It can be hard to say no at times. Humans naturally want to be liked and accepted, which can lead individuals to putting themselves into situations they would rather not be in. We say yes to things we would never seek out on our own with the intent to feel more included with a group or gain the favour of someone else, but remain miserable doing so. When you find yourself in those situations, slowly start changing how you react to put yourself in a position you are comfortable with and recognize when you may be falling into peer pressure.

Being able to say no does not mean people will not like you. It shows you have the confidence to do what is right for you. Don’t accept an invitation to go clubbing when you would rather be at home reading, or accept the offer to hang out after work when you are tired and just want to lie down. It is ok to be selfish from time to time!

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5. Uncertainty

One of the main causes for one to feel anxious is uncertainty. Experiencing brief moments of nervousness before a significant moment in your life is a totally normal response to have. Worrying about the welfare of your future self is ok. But when you can’t avoid overwhelming thoughts due to a major change in your life, or the environment around you, it is easy for anxious thoughts take control due to the unknown results of the change.

A common source of this intense feeling of uncertainty can be negative news stories. The world is a big place and our curiosity to know what is going on can be hard to resist. However, tuning out and focusing on your place in your own community can be a great way to feel grounded. You can combine physical activity, another great way to reduce anxiety, with local communities by joining sport teams or clubs as an escape from the unknown into something with a regimented schedule.

6. Financial stress

Financial stress is a very common source of anxiety which can come from a variety of different sources. It is easy to get in a cycle of never looking at your accounts or bills, with every billing cycle becoming harder and harder to stay up to date with your savings. Nobody wants to see a low number after all.

Shame can come from the feeling of not holding similar wealth to your peers, leading to emotions of inadequacy or comparing your worth as a person directly to your savings or possessions. Often, committing to a strict budget designed for financial stability is a great way to help alleviate some anxious feelings towards money. And always remember the age old mantra: Money cannot buy happiness. Be thankful for what you do have and for the things money can’t buy.

7. Workplace stressshutterstock_403781344

Uncertainty over job security and performance is another common source of anxiety for the modern adult. There are constant stories of jobs not supplying a living wage or large companies committing to large layoffs. Anxious feelings can start from a combination of always feeling you have to be “on” with the prevalence of open concept offices. This can make you feel like you have someone always watching over your shoulder, or that you must carefully watch your every move to fit in.

If nobody in the office is leaving at quitting time, you may feel forced to do the same even when unnecessary out of fear for appearing like a slacker. The need to remain connected to the workplace through email, cell phones and programs like Slack can enhance this feeling, leaving you with the feeling that you are never completely away from the office. The easiest way to deal with this is a talk to your boss or trusted supervisor. They have an interest in keeping you happy and productive. So if you have anxious feelings about certain workplace cultures, they will genuinely want to help. They can also provide the feedback you need to bring the confidence back into what you do.

Capital Choice Counselling is Ottawa’s Choice for Improving your life and self-confidence

There are many ways someone can develop feelings of anxiety today, and the one thing to keep in mind is you are not alone. There are others going through the similar experiences you are feeling, and there are support groups and organizations out there to help you. That said, it can be incredibly hard to make that first step. Not many can solve feelings of anxiety on their own. If you are struggling with anxiety in Ottawa, Capital Choice Counselling is here to help. We have a wide range of counsellors available, ensuring we have the perfect match to help you start feeling better. We have assisted thousands of clients in the Capital Region get back on the right track. Click here to get in contact us and start your journey to feeling better.