Don’t worry. The anxiety of everyday’s life

Don’t worry. I’ve already lost count of how many times I’ve been told this line. And, I agree, sometimes I really, really should not get worried, but there’s more to it than just that.

Actually, the right answer for How are you? should be, in my case, Anxious. Because I’m anxious a lot, and this got me into a lot of things. You see, the world we live in makes anxiety seem normal, but it’s not. It’s a trap. Anxiety is not a normal response, and if it is, then you’re living in the wrong environment.

Because, if we’re honest with ourselves, anxiety is rooted in fear. We’re scared of things, and we’re mostly scared of things we can’t control. Anxiety is the fear that something bad could happen. We don’t know why, we don’t know when. We only know that it is possible. That it is around the corner.

If I’d have to use a metaphor, I’d say that anxiety is that petty chick who comes at the party only to ruin it. Anxiety is, as much as we hate it, a thief. It steals our ability of enjoying the good we are living now, making us think that we are going to pay for that joy later, when the bad will strike.

While trying to get in a better mental state, recovering after emotional traumas, I’ve got to acknowledge all the things that I was doing and that were signs of my anxiety. People talk about being anxious around us all the time. Many times we have anxiety issues ourselves. But how many of us have the knowledge of the anxiety inducing behaviors as being such?  Here’s a little bit about the behaviors which are signaling anxiety issues, that I thought would  be helpful to share with you.

  • Criticizing my every movement

Anxiety does not come alone. It comes with her best friend, overthinking. And they have learned to play nice with perfectionism, so here’s the big triad.. As an anxious person, one tends to be overly critical with themselves. And this is how the joy and good mood are stolen away from you. By overthinking and criticizing yourself constantly, for the smallest thing, throwing shade at your own progress.

  • Thinking that I have to be perfect to avoid judgement

Remember that wild, wild mix of anxiety, perfectionism and overthinking? That’s also responsible for another self-sabotaging belief: that you have to be perfect, so that others won’t judge you. Here comes the thing: you don’t owe anything to anyone. The imperative of perfection is one of the most common signs of anxiety, but this doesn’t mean that you have to fall for it. Keep in mind that perfection is nothing but a lie, and enjoy every little thing that makes you smile.

  • Resenting myself for not living up to everyone’s standards

The whole thing about anxiety is that it often makes you feel like your best is never good enough, that the ones you care about feel like you’re not that great. Which might lead to the belief that, in order to be loved, you have to meet the standards of all those  people you love. This is not only harmful, as it brings a huge amount of pressure, but is definitely unrealistic. Most of the time, those people can’t fully live up to their standards themselves, and trying to meet them is nothing but a vicious circle. Conditioned love is not love, and the only standards you should make reality are your own. Regardless of what anxiety tries to tell you.

  • Believing that everyone is judging me

Well, this is a bit more complex, as it involves the belief that something is  bad. And, even if sometimes it really is, most of the times,  it is not. People judge people all the time, and this happens for many reasons. Just think about it. A compliment is as much of a judgement as an insult is. The good part is, however, that other people’s judgement is not a mirror of your personality and worth. You can be as much of the person that you feel like as you want, people will judge you either way. Regardless of how much you’d like to have the certainty that you make a good impression, this has nothing to do with your real self. But it is not an excuse for not being a decent human being either.

  • Worrying about my word choice I used while interacting with people

This tends to happen, from my experience, because we’re struggling with making good impressions. We want to have a good image, not offend anyone, and often enough this makes it harder to freely express ourselves. We tend to pay some extra attention to the way we say things, so that what we say would, ideally, bother no one. The truth is that there is no such thing. No matter how carefully we will choose our words, there will always be that someone who’s going to be bothered about what we say and how we do it.

  • Thinking that everyone could see inside my head

This is a common idea, that people can read our minds. Or, anyways, at least our emotions. I’ve had to face this countless times, the thought that people will read my mind through my tone of voice, my facial expressions or my choice of words. This brought, of course, some added pressure and some added social anxiety, as I’ve always hated being misunderstood or, even worse, exposed. The news is, however, that a few people, even those who know us really well, will be able to do this. Actually, it happened to me that some things that in my mind were already really, really obvious, to be unknown by those  people I thought saw them clearly. This remains one of the main reasons why I encourage people to be honest, as no one could read minds.

  • Feeling unable to or too afraid to speak up

Oh, well. This is a huge part of the typically anxious discourse, also known as If everyone will like me, then I will have nothing to fear. There were times in my life when only the thought of speaking up my mind made me want to hide under a rock. Growing up, I discovered two things: that this is called social anxiety, and that the world won’t fall apart if I say what I think.

  • Fearing that I could come off as stupid

And that’s another “pretty” side of being anxious. The one where you doubt yourself so much, that you keep digging for new things. News, books, movies, you’re in a continuous rush to be up to date on  the hottest topics, so you can entertain a smart conversation. Stop. No, seriously. Stop wasting time and energy documenting on subjects you don’t care about, just because anyone else seems to. You’re not stupid, you just have different interests, and that is perfectly fine.

  • Feeling that I have to overachieve, be the best at everything and know everything to be considered intelligent

This brings, by far, the biggest amount of anxiety. The constant pressure of the thought that, in order to be seen in a good way by others, you have to have everything together, all the time. Career, education, relationship, friendships, hobbies, everything. Otherwise you’ll be dismissed, as not being good enough for the people you love. Pause for five seconds, acknowledge that no one has it all together, all the time. Some areas of our lives make slower progress than the others, but that is progress as well. Take things one day at a time, and tell that inner voice to shut up. You’re only human, after all, just like everyone else.

  • Nail biting and skin-picking

Sometimes, our anxiety becomes visible for others around us via some physical signs. These are the most common and, for some people, the most annoying. I am guilty of doing them myself, and even if I haven’t tried it yet, I know that there is nail polish specially made for getting rid of these habits.

  • Avoiding eye-contact

Having social anxiety will make eye-contact appear as a risky move, especially when it comes to meeting new people. And I can totally understand. It must be terrifying to look into someone’s eyes and think about all the ways that they could be judging you, or about every single scenario that could work out wrong. It happened to me as well, countless times, and even if keeping up with making eye-contact helped me be more comfortable with it, there are still days when I’d look anywhere else.

These are the main ways in which  we are robbed of the joy and goodness of the moment. By falling for all the fears and the what could go wrong scenarios. But living with anxiety means that I have also found some tricks to decrease its impact on me. Here are a few of them.

  • Avoid the news channels

I have to admit, giving up on watching TV News was one of the greatest decisions I have made recently. It didn’t only save me time, but it also made me less anxious. This happens because news are usually presented in a manner that makes the world appear as a more frightening place than it really is, fueling one’s anxious scenarios.

  • Do things manually

Even if we talk about writing, painting, drawing, cooking or any other craft, use your hands. You could just be painting your nails in a bright shade, and it’s already enough! When I feel anxious, my go-to move is, usually, cleaning up the kitchen, but whatever you feel it’d be helpful works. Just use your hands, so your brain won’t be distracted and the anxious thoughts will, eventually, vanish away.

  • Breathe

Yes, yes, that simple. Breathe. Inhale, count to 10, exhale. Repeat this as many times as you need. Everything’s going to be ok. You’re safe.

  • Have a routine

Anxiety is all about the lack of certitudes, so work on minimizing that as much as you can. Eat at the same hours, wake up and fall asleep at the same hours, keep a diary to help you have a better view on your days.

  • Spend more time with yourself

Question yourself and your anxiety. Learn about what triggers it, why is it manifesting the ways it does, discover your own ways of making it have a minimal impact on  your life.

  • Be socially selective

And by that I mean Cut people off. Do you know those people that are always worried about anything and everything? Exactly. Your life is way better without them constantly around you. Cut them off, or at least talk to them as rarely as possible.

This is the summary of my journey across the Anxious Land, a journey far from its ending. What I’ve learned about it, and about any other mental condition, is that it doesn’t heal. Yes, it will disappear for a while. Yes, it will get better. But it won’t last forever. There will also be periods when it will return and when you’ll feel weak. It’s ok, we’re all humans. Seek help if you feel like it is needed, but never forget that you are worth more than your anxiety tells you, and that there’s a difference, a huge one, between fear, the real, legitimate fear, and anxiety. And the difference is that fear comes as a message of warning, while anxiety comes as a thief, trying to steal your smile. Don’t let it, you’re better than that.

”Ai grija de tine!”

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E o formulare pe care o auzim pe toate drumurile, marcand, de obicei, un final al discutiei cu o persoana de care ne pasa. La cat de intens e folosita, ai putea chiar crede ca, in societatea noastra contemporana, grija e o valoare fundamentala. Ceea ce este si nu este real.

Este o afirmatie reala, si grija chiar este o valoare fundamentala, atunci cand vorbim despre grija fata de exteriorul imediat apropiat, de oamenii dragi. Este o afirmatie falsa, atunci cand raportarea se face la grija fata de propria persoana, acolo unde exista in mod evident lacune serioase. Asta se poate intampla si pentru ca nimeni, sau aproape nimeni, nu pare sa stie cum anume se traduce, in comportamente si actiuni concrete, a avea grija de tine. E ca si cum asteptam, cuminti, sa vina cineva si sa ne arate: ”Uite, ba, neispravitilor, asa se face!”. Sa ne dea reteta magica si noi sa trecem la treaba. Adaug aici si vechea, foarte vechea prejudecata ce facea din grija fata de propria persoana o forma indezirabila de egoism, si iata-ne ajunsi…unde-am ajuns.

Adica in pragul colapsului mental, in diferite grade si forme de manifestare, cei mai multi dintre noi, dar…suntem acolo. Si asta e, sau ar trebui sa fie, alarmant. Mai ales cand grija asta de sine, sau mai bine spus, reteta ei e, de fapt, ataaat de simpla. Si incepe, ca orice reteta buna, cu intelegerea.

Avem de inteles, inainte de orice, cateva treburi elementare. Si prin intelegere, ma refer si la acceptarea lor ca fapte, nu doar la aprobarea pasiva a existentei lor. Primul ar fi ca viata nu-i neaparat roz. Sau doar roz. Ca nu suntem toooot timpul bine dispusi, energici, productivi, cu chef de viata. Avem si zile cand nu vrem nimic de la nimeni, decat sa fim lasati in pace, sa nu facem nimic, sa ne izolam. Si e in regula ca ele exista, fiindca aduc un strop de echilibru. Unde s-ar ajunge daca am fi niste oameni pusi pe treaba tot timpul?

Al doilea, ar fi ca grija de sine e semn al respectului de sine, nu al egoismului. E in regula sa vrei sa ajuti, sa aduci ceva bun comunitatii, dar pentru asta trebuie sa fii in stare buna tu intai. Si asta inseamna ca nu exista nimeni care sa te invete cum sa ai grija de tine, e ceva ce descoperi personal, prin incercari multiple. Aparent, bunicii nostri stiau asta mai bine decat noi. O parte din segmentul asta al igienei mentale denumit grija de sine e constituit, zic eu, din mici placeri. Din tabieturi formate si respectate. Aici pot spune cu sinceritate ca imi respect bunica- are 84 de ani, o poveste de viata impresionanta, ca mai toti bunicii nostri, si, cu toate astea, are inca tabieturile sale de care nu se lipseste. Fie ca vorbim despre somn dupa-amiaza, citit, sau plimbari pe jos, inca le mai respecta, in masura in care fizicul o ajuta. Cred ca e cazul ca si noi sa adoptam genul asta de atitudine atunci cand vine vorba despre relatia cu noi insine.

Pentru ca grija de sine nu inseamna neaparat ca te duci la spa, la salon si la shopping. Evident, poate insemna si asta, si nu-i rau deloc, dar grija de sine, in esenta ei, se ocupa cu tot ce poate sa aduca o stare de bine si de liniste. Poate fi ziua in care te-ai uitat pentru a zecea oara la un film (si, evident, ai plans iar), sau o seara in care te pui sa dormi devreme, la fel cum poate fi ceaiul preferat baut din cea mai frumoasa cana, cu albumul tau de suflet ca fundal sonor, cartea aia pe care tot ziceai c-o citesti si fotoliul comod sau patul. Poate fi ziua din saptamana pe care ai desemnat-o ca fiind ziua ta, si-n care te ocupi linistit de toate chestiile pe care in mod normal esti prea aglomerat sa le faci- poate desenezi, poate iesi in parc sa te plimbi, poate gatesti cu prietenii sau, pur si simplu, dormi si nu faci nimic. Sau poate iti iei rucsacul si pleci o zi, doua, pe undeva. La fel de bine cum poate sa fie momentul tau cu tine de fiecare zi, si ziua aia pe care iti place sa ti-o aloci in intregime.

Toate astea sunt forme de grija fata de propria persoana, si, poate, cele mai eficiente moduri de a te dezvolta in mod real ca om. O sa sune nelalocul lui, dar pana si plansul poate fi o forma de grija fata de propria persoana, in conditiile in care ramane, din experientele mele, cea mai eficienta metoda de eliminare a surplusului emotional existenta pana in prezent. Deci e in regula, si chiar indicat, sa plangi atunci cand simti nevoia, cat timp o simti.

Grija fata de propria persoana mai implica, insa, si oameni. Si renuntare. Renuntare la acei oameni a caror prezenta in preajma noastra aduce ingrijorari, tristete, devalorizare in proprii ochi. Sau, pur si simplu, la acei oameni cu care pastram o relatie buna doar din inertie, fiindca “nu se face” sa nu mai vorbim cu ei. Cu care nu mai simtim ca am avea ceva comun. A caror prezenta in vietile noastre nu mai e aducatoare de bucurie, de calm, de bine. Sau, in cazurile extreme, dar tot mai dese, care s-au dovedit a fi toxici. Fiindca oricat de cinic suna, si legaturile umane au date de expirare. Nescrise, e adevarat, dar ele exista, si atunci cand sunt atinse, cea mai mare dovada de intelepciune, dar si de grija si respect fata de cine suntem, este sa renuntam la ele.

Iar al treilea lucru ce trebuie amintit acum si inteles, e ca exista atatea retete ale grijii fata de propria persoana, cati oameni pe lume. Ca nu exista forme superioare si inferioare ale grijii de sine. Exista, in schimb, forme reale, autentice, si surogate. Ca, uneori, diferenta intre autentic si surogat e facuta de cantitate, de grad, nu de comportament in sine. Iar atunci trebuie cautata, ca intotdeauna, cauza generatoare de dezechilibru. Pentru ca sigur exista si la fel de sigur e bine pitita pe undeva.

Singurul lucru ce ramane de spus e ca primul pas spre o lume, o societate mai buna, e un numar mai mare de oameni ce se ingrijesc sa le fie bine- fizic si psihic. O societate in care indivizii inteleg ca timpul in care nu fac nimic productiv, sau in care nu dau la fel de mult randament, e la fel de important in echilibrul macro al propriilor sisteme existentiale ca cel in care functioneaza la capacitate maxima. Ca diferenta intre un om cu tabieturi si unul care alearga de zor sa ii ajute pe toti poate ca nu se vede acum, dar se va vedea, cu siguranta, peste zece ani. Si ca trebuie sa ne preocupe binele nostru de azi in egala masura in care ne preocupa contributia la binele celor ce vor veni dupa noi. Altfel e doar o minciuna, una in spatele careia vom sti mereu ca se ascunde adevarul unei propozitii scurte: nu e, de fapt, bine pentru nimeni. Asa ca hai sa avem, fiecare, grija de noi insine, o grija reala de noi insine si, poate, atunci vom fi indreptatiti sa speram ca o sa fie bine pentru toti.