It’s difficult to go out to a large, crowded outing without fearing a shooter or another tragic possibility in the back of your mind. For some, it’s more the front of your mind.
Either way, it’s easy to see the world as a dangerous place. Anxiety exists as a warning – an alarm system that something is wrong. As you see all of the terrible things that can happen on the news, it’s easier and easier to think of the world as a more violent place than it used to be.
Yet, as you go about your day, do you recognize equally how many people want to be helpful to you, or how many people want to live in peace as much as you do?
With social media and 24/7 news channels, it is easy to forget. It’s unwise to be uninformed, but too much information skewed in a way that promotes viewership without regard to emotional wellness is unhelpful for the management of anxiety.
This year, in order to reduce your own anxiety, you can do several things to shift your own focus from the blaring headlines of everything wrong in humanity.
First, moderate your “mental diet” more carefully. Pay attention to how much news, politics, crime dramas, horror stories, or otherwise potentially disturbing material you are viewing or reading about. As with food, some things serve people better as an occasional treat rather than a staple.
It is important to remain informed to an extent, but unless you are extremely socially isolated it is almost impossible not to know the significant events that transpire from the people with whom you interact on a day-to-day basis alone. A lot of information is truly superfluous to your life.
Second, take time to clear your mind. Even if it’s just for a split second, your brain needs a break from time to time.
If you are thinking about things seemingly even in your sleep, learning some meditative skills to quiet your mind will allow you to manage your emotional state with much greater success.
Challenge yourself daily to see how long you can keep your mind as a blank slate, up to 20 minutes (and not while driving or operating heavy machinery).
And finally, if your anxiety persists, it is important to seek professional help. Just as if you had physical symptoms for more than a few weeks, assessment and intervention can help you tackle your problems, bringing you more enjoyment in 2016.
Alison Jedrick, MSW, LISW-CP, is an associate with Psychological & Counseling Associates of the Lowcountry, LLC in Bluffton.