Last updated: How to stay afloat in the anxiety society

How to stay afloat in the anxiety society


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It’s nearly spring and the ‘New Year, New You’ adverts are still going strong. Preying on those of us who perhaps put a little too much ‘hog’ into their Hogmanay, there are protein shakes to get you yoga-ready for the beach this summer (courtesy of our unapologetic friends at Protein World), apps that count your sleep cycles and pills to help you shed fat so you can wear ‘that’ dress (why is it never ‘those’ shorts?)

And behind it all, fueling these campaigns, is a stressful cocktail of aspiration and angst. Aspiration because that’s the lofty, often unrealistic dream they sell, and angst because – at least at this time of year – it seems to be the main catalyst for conversion.

I’m quite happy with who and how I am, but it’s still a challenge to look at some of these campaigns and not feel either insulted or get a sliver of self-doubt – which must mean that they’re doing their job.

With such a bewildering amount of choices and pressures, the key to success is to be a little bit more Zen.

The anxiety society: How to step back and re-center

Anxiety is the byproduct of a media that is fixated on the perfect everything. The perfect trip, the perfect holiday, the perfect house… and the need to strive for unrealistic aspirational goals.

It seems that we are living in an anxiety society. My folks weren’t rushing back from work every night to ferry me between football and band practice, nor were my play dates scheduled with a precision that puts my work calendar to shame. This over-competitive way of living is a stress on parents and children alike – not to mention businesses and enterprises spreading themselves too thin instead of doing one thing well.

Life is more complex now than it was. There’s more choice, or at least awareness of possibilities, than ever before. The modern era’s family has evolved to a point where it is nigh impossible to do it all and have it all. There’s not enough hours in the day to tick all the boxes and enjoy quality time together.

So what’s the answer – do we take a step back or forge ahead?

I’d say the key is that you have to get a little bit Zen. Remember the story of the Fisherman and the Businessman. Take a deep breath (that always helps) and focus not on the things you can change, because ultimately you can change pretty much anything you put your mind to, but on the things you want or need to achieve. And enjoy the journey.

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