Mainstream Anxiety

Trying to describe how my anxiety is always lurking, particularly to someone who is unfamiliar with that feeling, can be tricky. As a self-proclaimed “professional worrier,” I can best characterize it as follows: Picture a scene from any scary movie where eerie music (you know the kind) starts playing. The music is typically used to announce impending danger and build suspense. What happens next all depends on the movie plot; even after it’s over, that feeling of impending doom can linger.

This awareness of potential danger is something to which all humans are hard-wired to be attuned. The “flight” response is a vital part of self-protection, and our society has capitalized on that in the field of entertainment. However, just because something bad typically follows a creepy movie melody (think JAWS), that’s not always the case with anxiety. Anxiety can make us tense at just the thought of a problem ahead.

The reality is, bad things can and do happen. No matter the situation, how we choose to cope with it can change the outcome.

For people who suffer from anxiety, completing even small responsibilities can be daunting. Ever find yourself pulling into an overcrowded parking lot, then turning around to leave instead? Maybe you open your phone and see 20 new emails, to which your response is to put the phone back down. Now, apply that mentality to every obligation—this is how large numbers of the public who suffer from symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder feel, and those numbers are on the rise.

Our Q1 report recently took a look at the rise of anxiety in the mainstream, potential natural remedies, and how our concept of self-care is evolving. The conversation around mental health is changing, and this is encouraging a more positive public approach to wellness. Here are some current examples:

•    For those who are burdened with workplace stress, Flash Pack  is offering a wellness getaway. The 12-day Escape to Bali focuses on mindfulness through relaxing activities to help quell stress. The destination was specifically chosen for American travelers due to its disparate culture and warm climate.

•    The World Health Organization recently classified burnout as a medical condition, with recognizable symptoms. The decision to medically legitimize this “syndrome” could lead to positive changes in the workplace and to overall societal health standards.

•    With the growing popularity of holistic health practices, natural alternatives, such as lavender essential oil, are gaining popularity as a potent mood booster. University studies into Phytomedicine support the efficacy of the oil in treating anxiety in women.

•    Academic groups are reporting on rising concerns over the mental well-being of college and university students. Anxiety around pressure to succeed and the rising cost of tuition are proving to be too much for some. Mental health professionals are now working with universities more directly to address student-related stress and anxiety, as well as stress related to student debt.

While there are many circumstances that can contribute to stress and anxiety in today’s world, what’s changing is how we address it on a larger scale. Increasing awareness and demystifying mental health issues are part of a growing movement around what self-care and wellness look like and how that varies from person to person.

For my own well-being, I am learning how to cope with my fear of the unknown, whether it’s a man-eating shark…or just a new work assignment. Recognizing what triggers my anxious feelings, and taking a mental note to stop and give purpose to, or dismissal of them is proving to be extremely helpful. In real life, that scary movie music only leads to something scary if I give meaning to it.

See more about issues like “Mainstream Anxiety,” and more, in our Quarterly Report. If you’d like to see the full Q1 Report, just link to our newsletter:

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