In our current age, there’s an epidemic in the western world – an epidemic of anxiety. Anxiety is an extremely tricky culprit to pin down since it doesn’t attack the immune system in a direct way or manifest itself in any verifiable way. Anxiety is a disease that people experience as an aspect of their subjective experience; thus, medical doctors have a hard time diagnosing and treating it.
Many doctors will simply wave their magical prescription pad and recommend that their patients take something like Lorazepam or Clonazepam – the notorious “Pams” – for short-term, or else something like Prozac for more long-term treatment of chronic anxiety. While these treatments may suppress some of the negative effects of anxiety, reducing the perpetual worry and tensions, they do not remove the root cause of the anxiety, which the psychology community would argue is unresolved issues in the unconscious.
Increasingly, practices such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, group therapy and anything that involves vigorous physical exercise are being suggested to deal with anxiety in a more organic way. Digital meditation programs like Andy Puddicombe’s Headspace app are great ways to get your feet wet and start practicing mindfulness, but as you start to bring mindfulness into your day-to-day life, it’s a good idea to find a couple of projects where you can sharpen your skills while losing yourself in an enjoyable activity.
Things like knitting, playing the piano or even playing a video game for thirty minutes are all good ways to get your mind out of its worrisome rut and onto a different track. Some people may gravitate towards knitting or pottery since they can yield impressive results over time. Others may have so much to do between work and family that twenty minutes of video games on their phone is all they can commit to. If you fall into the latter category, you could always try and find a music shop that offers music lessons for kids and adults and take up the keyboard while your child is learning the oboe in the other room – this is both time efficient and could lead to a bonding experience in your family.
Because of all of the exposure to social media and the pressure placed on children to thrive in a society that is obsessed with status, a generation of children is suffering acutely from anxiety as well. If you can convince them to shut off their phone and play an instrument for even twenty minutes a day, this will go a long way towards reducing their day to day anxiety and increasing their confidence. If you suffer from anxiety as an adult as well, you’ll be surprised how much good it does to shut your phone off a few times a day for a timeout. When you go to the gym, while you’re reading a book, or while you’re trying to nail that guitar solo from your favourite Springsteen song, it will do your mind some good to come untethered from the digital world and from the constant buzz of communication.
So whether it’s for yourself or your kid’s anxiety, look into music lessons and take some time out for yourself!