Sources of stress and anxiety in the modern world
What causes stress, and what can you do to manage it in your daily life? This article explores sources and remedies for stress and anxiety
Humans have been a high-stress bunch for much of our history, but our collective mental health has taken an especially significant hit over the past few months. In April, the UK Office for National Statistics found that 84.2 percent of Britons were worried about COVID-19 and its effects on their lives, whilst a staggering 46.9 percent said they had ‘high levels of anxiety.’
But the ongoing global pandemic isn’t the only reason people have found it hard to smile lately. And although managing stress and anxiety isn’t as simple as ‘shifting your perspective’ or ‘thinking positive’ (despite the deluge of inspiring Instagram memes to the contrary), there are things you can do to feel better.
Let’s take a closer look at what can trigger those tough feelings, and what can help you cope with them.
What causes stress and anxiety?
First, stress and anxiety are different. Feelings of stress generally arise in response to a specific situation or circumstance. As the National Health Service (NHS) explains, anxiety disorders are chronic conditions whose origins can be more complex. However, both stress and anxiety are often triggered by concerns around:
- Health: Aside from the pandemic itself, pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure and cancer can cause a great deal of worry.
- Money: Each month the bills keep coming, and they never seem to get any smaller.
- Precarious employment: The ‘gig economy’ and ‘flexi-work’ have turned out to be much less appealing than promised.
- Social/political conflict: If you haven’t read the papers or seen the news on TV, there’s quite a lot of it at the moment.
- Relationship issues: Nobody knows how to push our buttons better than our partners, children, family members, and friends.
Now, let’s see how you can help alleviate the feelings these issues produce.
How people reduce stress and anxiety
People have developed a wide range of coping strategies for dealing with stress and anxiety over the years. But as UK mental health charity Mind put it, self-care for anxiety is extra challenging right now, and it’s normal if your old methods seem out of reach right now. That being said, another option might be more feasible:
- Prescription medication: Doctors can prescribe antidepressants and similar drugs if needed.
- Meditation and breathing exercises: Spending some time each day in silence helps many people find their centre.
- Therapy: Talking to a licensed therapist or joining a group can offer an outlet for difficult feelings.
- Exercise: Going for a run or lifting weights can release brain chemicals that boost your mood.
- Natural supplements: Many people have turned to plant-based remedies as an alternative to pharmaceuticals.
It’s common for people to try multiple methods at once, depending on their needs and preferences.
What method of reducing stress and anxiety is best for you?
If you’ve lived with stress and anxiety before—and if you’re reading this article, we assume you have—you already know there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution for getting your internal narrator to calm down a bit. Instead, the best option is to take a careful appraisal of your personality and set an intentional path forward.
For example: If you’re a person who can’t sit still no matter how hard you try, going for runs might be more helpful than trying to meditate for a half hour each morning. And if you prefer to avoid putting lab-made chemicals in your body, you might opt for an organic supplement like CBD (provided it’s from a reputable company).
The most important thing to remember is to stay consistent. It would be wonderful if any of these solutions instantly erased your stress and anxiety, but in all likelihood this is a long game. However, if you stick with your program (whilst still staying responsive to any new needs that pop up), you can come out on top.
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