Is anxiety the new buzzword? We hear all about anxiety in the news, in movies and shows, and even in songs on the radio. Why is it such a thing now? And where did it come from?
Sure, everyone’s got anxiety. It’s as innately human as joy and despair. And despite our common thought, anxiety isn’t even all “bad” and we don’t necessarily want to get rid of it.
So what’s the deal with anxiety?
Anxiety in it’s purest form it is simply a layer of protection. This protection is designed to keep us safe from potentially dangerous threats in our world. But over time these threats have changed significantly.
Instead of the wild animals and hand-to-hand combat of our ancestors, our threats are often far less obvious. The anxiety of modern times may look more like a middle-of-the-night panic that we forgot that important email or didn’t reschedule an appointment. Our livelihood may feel threatened by appearing incompetent, unreliable, or unprofessional in our world. Suddenly anxiety has gotten the better of us.
But why do we get so worked up?
Well to the anxious parts of our brains these perceived threats feel practically identical to the threats of our ancestors. In fact, it puts us in a very similar state of fight, flight or freeze and triggers a whole chain of “what-if’s” and worries that can leave us near panic. Quite simply, our modern threats effect us in the exact same way as if a lion were on our doorstep. Our brains don’t know the difference. Anxiety is simply trying to keep us safe from the lion.
Why is anxiety so reactive?
Think of anxiety like an overprotective friend in your brain. This friends’ only concern is keeping your safe so he is constantly on the lookout out for signs of danger. The problem is he is not very logical, he doesn’t know the difference between a lion at your doorstep and a missed call. If he is left unchecked, he will trigger all the stress hormones you need to escape a life-threatening situation.
And as much as we try to quell our overprotective brain’s concerns, there just seems to be more and more to be anxious about. In fact, as we look around, society in general just needs to chill out. But why are so anxious in the first place, and what can we do about it?
To understand more about anxiety in our culture AND some one incredibly simple tip for handling it, check out We Need A Chill Pill Part 2: It’s Everywhere, It’s Coming For Us!