|A bubble level|
Anxiety, depression, isolation and alienation summarizes how many people are experiencing 2020.
Obligatory disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am not a medical person. Take these comments and observations for whatever entertainment value they have. Be adults. Make your own decisions.
Seek professional help is your emotional state causes you to contemplate injuring yourself or others.
A woman making a strident speech in support of Black Lives Matter and justifying looting shouts at the camera "I got anxiety!"
A woman who listens to the incessant hammering of the news is depressed.
A couple who listens to the news practices extreme social distancing and work from home and feel isolated.
People feel like events are completely out of their control. Where-as they used to have connection with coworkers and social peers and they could sense the mutuality of other's orbits, they are now alienated because they get no sense of making-a-difference through the pixels of their computer screens.
Its a bug's life
The difference between the ant and the grasshopper is that the ant felt anxiety and acted in ways to reduce that anxiety. The grasshopper lived totally in the present and if he had any anxiety he willfully ignored it.
God gives us anxiety for a reason. Anxiety is a gift.
A gift becomes a problem or a burden when it is not used appropriately.
The woman at the Black Lives Matter rally was half right. Anxiety is a cry from our inner-self to change what we are doing.
Sometimes it is a call to do something totally different, like take up canning.
Sometimes it is a call to do more of what we are already doing.
Sometimes it is a call to STOP doing something. Stop giving your teenager your car keys if their driving gives you a debilitating amount of anxiety, for instance.
For most people, Anxiety should be a motivator for action.
Depressing and anxiety are opposite sides of the same coin.
Depression is what happens when the anxiety becomes debilitating.
If anxiety is a call-to-action, depression is a cower-in-the-bottom-of-a-foxhole.
A top wobbles as it nears the end of its spin. It is like a golf ball rimming the cup. There is a stage where anxiety rims the cup of depression.
If the ball goes into the cup and anxiety becomes depression, seek professional help.
If the anxiety is rimming the cup and there is still a viable chance it won't go in, there are various self-help strategies. Here are a baker's dozen:
- Take actions to directly address the issue that is causing your anxiety. This is the BEST course of action. That is why God gave you anxiety: to get you off top-dead-center.
- Take actions to partially address the issue. Sometimes we are prevented from acting directly on the cause of our anxiety. Fortunately, many times we only need a little bit of relief to make life livable. You might feel overwhelmed with more demands on your time than hours in the day. Get some help. Hire somebody. Trade talents. Learn to say "NO." You don't need to deflect every task but you need to create enough "me time" to get the bubble back in the center of the sight glass.
- Get off the X. If listening to Rachel Maddow depresses you, turn off the TV. If visiting a particular website ratchets up your anxiety, stop visiting that site.
- Exercise. Yeah, I know. EVERYBODY gives you that advice. But look at it from your primitive-brain's viewpoint. You are doing something your brain will interpret as addressing the problem. Exercise generates the same chemical regulators that are generated when you fight an enemy or run away from trouble. Your primitive brain will interpret that as "taking appropriate action" and will give you relief. If you mix strength training (which looks like "fight" to your brain) and cardio (which looks like "flight") then you get the best of both worlds.
- Get some sunshine, preferably around mid-day. Take off your sunglasses and sit in the shade if you must. Some evolutionary biologists claim that depression helped the people of Northern European survive the long winters because depression triggers calorie-conserving behaviors. Entire families would huddle in bed together for 23 hours a day, only rousing to eat a few turnips, drink a sip of water and to hit the outhouse. What triggered those calorie-conservation strategies? The depression that was triggered by the low blue/UV light content of the short days of approaching winter.
- Fresh air. Get out of your house. Expose yourself to a different group of fragrances. Smells are the most evocative of our senses.
- Listen to music from the happiest time of your life. Music has great power to evoke emotions.
- Help somebody in greater need than yourself. It will give you connection and boost your self-esteem. Just be careful, there are manipulative people who will take advantage of you...be sure you are not enabling them.
- Take up a new hobby. Stretch your brain. Depression has your brain whizzing around-and-around-and-around the same, short race-track. Give your brain new material to digest. Take up music or a foreign language or knitting.
- Improve your diet. The bacteria in your gut influences your moods. Stop eating as much fried foods. Incrementally add a little more fiber to your diet. Try a fruit or a vegetable you haven't tried before.
- Drink a glass of water even if you are not thirsty. Dehydration is sneaky. Your loss of energy and zest for life might be as simple as low-grade dehydration.
- Cut back on the booze or eliminate it. Alcohol is a depressant and masks the problem by making it easier to avoid actually addressing the underlying issues.
- Cuddle with your spouse. Touching a real human being (and not having to pay money for the privilege) is a FABULOUS way to eliminate feelings of isolation.
- Do the Wild-Thang with your spouse. There are reasons birthrates go up in times of war. We are biologically hard-wired to leave our genetic endowment behind when there is a high risk we "won't make it". God achieves this by making procreating a mega-anxiety reducer.
- Food supplements. St Johns Wort and/or Fish Oil are reputed to have mild anti-depressant activity. Just be mindful that the amounts required to get the benefit might be significant. Do your own research.
- Pray. Renew your relationship with God. Pick up a Bible or book sacred to your faith. There will always be things beyond our control. If the Bible is alien territory then you would do well to read the Sermon on the Mount. If time is short, read Matthew 6:25 to 6:34
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. -King James Translation. There are other translations that you might find more readable.