‘You don’t have to see the whole staircase; just take the first step.’ Martin Luther King, Jr
Anxiety paralyses success, happiness and wellbeing. Often experienced as mood disturbances, mind wandering, unexplained fears, ruminating thoughts, inability to make decisions and a lurking sense of restlessness, it has a disturbing effect. Common physical symptoms of anxiety include rapid heart rate and breathing, muscular tension, unexplained headaches, pains, sweaty palms, reduced immunity, elevated blood pressure, skin issues, to name a few. The ability to focus is compromised when you experience anxiety, which in turn diffuses cognitive capabilities.
Not all anxiety is bad; like good stress, there is good anxiety too which is precisely the right dose to get you to accomplish challenging tasks, learn new skills and shake yourself out of your comfort zone. The other side is anxiety which can grow to dysfunctional extremes, which is concerning. The pandemic has heightened the anxiety levels on our planet. At some workplaces and families, it is not cool to talk about experiencing anxiety. So, people try to appear calm and collected while there is a whole churn and discomfort internally. This is called the duck syndrome, maintaining an image of serenity on the surface while paddling fervently below the water to stay afloat.
Many high-pressure workplaces pay scant attention to wellbeing. The unspoken code to success in such setups, may be displaying ambition and drive to do more even when you are crumbling from the inside. The stigma around mental health and associated perception fears, stops people from seeking help or even expressing concerns.
Here are three practices to help you feel safe, which is the opposite of anxiety:
1. See how you can ease some pressure by doing fewer things. Give yourself permission and time to rest and recover. Overwork triggers overwhelm and anxiety. During periods of rest introduce some relaxed breathing or mini meditations of even three to five minutes.
2. Nature heals, and moving the body is helpful to release happy chemicals in the brain. When possible, take a walk preferably in nature or in open spaces. This can help trigger your sense of agency and help you relax.
3. If anxiety is persistent and paralysing you, seek help from a qualified therapist or counsellor. Wellness of the mind should be as much a priority as that of the body. Conversations that help you gain perspective and exercises to practise can give you much relief and help you rebuild your confidence and calm.
Life is about finding joy and nurturing your soul much more than just soldiering through livelihood. Look at the longer rhythms of life, you realise that nothing is permanent. Even though in the middle of trouble it seems to be our only reality, we get over our troubles eventually. Take small steps, do fewer things and slowly you would have climbed up the stairway to serenity.