Anxiety – You are not alone! Everyone has problems. Let’s go through it Together
Life is made up of a lot of stressors for all. We all go through the grief of a loss of a loved one, heartbreak from love, anxiety about things we cannot control and anger when we don’t want to. We have all been a subject to stressful deadlines, Sleepless nights, series of caffeine/ redbull, and the fear of an unknown. We all try, and we all succeed. We all try, and we all fail. This is how things are supposed to be for anyone who is normal.
Physical illness is easier and faster to treat because we go through the pain, which is visible, which can be felt. We have all seen it from our childhood. We fall on the ground, hurt our hands, legs and these are visible wounds and cuts. We fall sick- stomachache, headache, fever name it, we have all experienced it and we know the drill. We all go to the doctors and heal our cuts, wounds and treat the anomaly.
What we don’t know is our mind which is constantly functioning and is just an ordinary organ like other organs also gets tired, also gets some cuts and wounds. Some realize it sooner and some take time to figure on what is actually happening. In 2016, over 1.1 billion people worldwide were estimated to be suffering from some kind of mental health condition. This means every 5th or 6th person is going through something or the other. Another noteworthy fact is that this number has been constant for the past 26 years! Wow!
Who are they?
All these people are not special or abnormal in any way. They are all one amongst us. All of them are people who come to work every day, looking for a new job, cook or fight to decide what to cook, binge watch Netflix and struggle through the contents to finally decide what to watch, fight with their partner to do the dishes or clean the home etc. They are one amongst us. We have seen them, met them been with them. You and I both have been there (sometimes we have realized, sometimes not.) But we have all been there.
Worrying too much about the worry. Don’t! It has a positive side.
1. It alerts the attention to potential risks and negative outcomes:
I have felt very anxious with increased palpitations before an important report to present. What I figured is its actually because I don’t want to make mistakes and be very well prepared before the report and all this happens most of the time when time is running out! Next time, I will ensure that I prioritize it well so that I have enough time to double ensure the work doesn’t go wrong and I don’t miss out on the important points in the report. This helps calm down.
2. It keeps us motivated:
Knowing the worry makes me prepare it well and put in all effort only to work harder to see positive results. This is motivating me to continue seeing good results. It makes me more ambitious.
3. It makes us more compassionate:
Knowing what it feels like automatically helps us recognize it in other people too. It makes us empathize with them eventually kinder to others. This is very helpful in our relationships with everyone as we feel connected and they now feel understood by us.
4. It brings in a positive change:
While anxiety might not be the best feeling in the world, it unlocks the door that helps us walking into a road of realization to see what is not working for us. In any other day, we would not pay it any attention but now we also start looking for those things which if changed can now re-start or enhance the quality of work, life, relationship.
5. Open up and seek help:
We fear anxiety and seldom talk about it. Instead, this should be openly discussed amongst family, friends, and colleagues just like how we discuss when we are sick physically or down with a disease. It could be I need a day’s leave because I feel low and distressed just like I’m down with headaches/ body pain etc. Ask for help and reach out for support, no one turns others down. What we don’t realize is the other person could help us more than what we expected.
Where is the worry coming from:
It’s important for us to figure out the gateway to the problem to solve the problem.
1. Biological and Environmental causes: A lot of studies keep it this way. It’s genetic just like arthritis or diabetes or hypertension or blood pressure. But the environmental factors give way to it further like smoking, alcohol, drugs, etc.
2. Past Experiences: A traumatic past or a troubled childhood, past relationship either a bad manager or poor experience with a partner also lead to anxiety when we enter a realm of a new experience of a new job, new partner, again meet the same person etc. Sometimes it also happens just with a mere thought of it.
3. Current Circumstances: Fight or a conflict with a peer or loved ones, current scenario of Covid-19 with social distancing, unable to meet people we want to can also lead to it.
4. Thought Patterns: Sometimes the way we think things also lead to causing worry. For Example, wanting to do better in the current scenario of making the report better might lead to worry about my performance. Thinking about my parents who live miles away makes me just worry about what are they eating, are they eating right, are they taking medicines on time, hope they are not worried, etc.
5. The What if situation: Fear of the unknown is also a common cause of worry. What if I fail? What if I don’t hit my target? What if my business sinks? What if I don’t make enough money for tomorrow?
Address it and treat it:
You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step – Martin Luther King Jr.
Anxiety can cause fatigue, sleeplessness, poor memory, poor concentration, headaches and stomach upsets. Anxiety can sometimes stop us from taking action that might actually help us. We should focus on the things that we can do instead of the things that scare us.
1. Find out the cause of the worry.
This is the first step of breaking the real problem into smaller problems. Working with a team of great Product Managers and Engineers have actually taught this, something we all must do in our everyday life. The problem could be a combination of a biological, environmental, current circumstance and a what if worry. We need to break it to not just into these pieces but further down like “I am currently feeling anxious” and I cant stop “worrying about my parents” who are “aging” and “miles away” after my “Saturday night party its grown worse”.
2. Things in my control and those not.
From a larger part of the worry , now that things are broken down start with what can be fixed or addressed and what cant. Example for the above case :
Things like “feeling anxious”, “can’t stop worrying”, “aging” , “miles away” are out of my control.
Things like “Saturday night party” is in my control.
3. Take action. Take measures
Take action for things under “my control”. What in Saturday night led to this, chatting with friends , family, alcohol, drugs etc. These are situations we can easily take control of and avoid from next time.
Things to also consider is can we also take any necessary measures for things not under my control. Example for the same case- do I have a good health insurance for my parents (age and miles away is an indirect hint that I am worried about their health), can I travel to my parents place if needed (with covid in place and travel restrictions- what can be the easiest and fastest way to reach them if need be. If I have not planned, I should). The moment these are “some” measures we fix, we are solving the problem we are worrying for.
Important Note: Being worried is good. That’s an automatic response from our brain as our body releases chemicals that energizes us and prepares us to deal with the situation.
Yogendra Singh Yadav from the Indian Army is a living recipient of Param Vir Chakra and the youngest one to receive the medal for his action in the Kargil War. He took 14 bullets from the enemies from a machine gun, rocket fire, and whatnot. His worry was “what if I lose with never-ending loose ends”. His grit to win the war led him to success.