We live in a culture that values multitasking, packed schedules, achievement, and speed. And we get bonus points when we don’t “need” a lot of sleep to make it all happen. Most of us have probably asked someone how they are doing and the response is, “busy!” Even when we bemoan how full our schedules are, there can be a level of pride in all the demands on us. This pace contributes to the high levels of anxiety seen in our current society, and while it is certainly not the only cause of anxiety it is a contributing factor worth addressing.
The adrenalin produced, or the “high” we feel from accomplishing multiple tasks, receiving affirmation, or conquering challenges feels great, but living a lifestyle of heightened arousal that thrives on chaos and busyness leaves little room for peace and tranquility, and this imbalance can make us vulnerable to heightened anxiety. Accomplishment, efficiency, or excellence is not wrong, in fact healthy levels of stress and anxiety are beneficial, but we need to be mindful of the ways in which cultural expectations impact these lifestyle choices and our resulting stress and anxiety levels. Sometimes it’s difficult to even recognize the dangers of this lifestyle because the results and feedback can be quite reinforcing. However, if we are seeking to reduce anxiety, it may be helpful to do a better job of regaining some balance in these areas.
We likely can’t fully remove ourselves from the context of a high stress society, but there can be value in finding a more balanced approach that is aware of the demands and seeks to counter those intentionally with peaceful interventions. We can look for opportunities to limit how much we personally participate in that pace by setting healthy boundaries with our time and commitments. Having many opportunities requires that we be more selective, because when we say yes to something, we are automatically saying no to something else. In addition, as we seek to create more peaceful lives, we embrace behaviors and mindsets that naturally enhance a calm state. Living more fully in a place of peace can include changes such as walking and eating more slowly, allowing for quiet, putting your phone away, praying, getting more sleep, doing only one thing at a time, being focused on the present, engaging in deep breathing or meditation exercises, reducing caffeine, and redefining words like productive, successful, etc.
Some individuals have life circumstance that don’t allow for the same level of choice with demands or stressors outside of their control, and we all have seasons where this may be true. However, for many of us, it is easy to get pulled into an over stimulated and rushed life pace and wonder why we are experiencing such anxiety. I would encourage us to slow down, be present, and make space for more peace.