Exploring Anxiety: How Society & Environment Impact Us
For many, anxiety can be an unseen enemy, often misunderstood and existing as a silent but paralyzing presence. Over anxiety can lead to physical manifestations such as heart palpitations, upset stomach, and a loss of focus and concentration. It can keep us from having a healthy social life and opening ourselves up to the world. But, why does it exist and more importantly, how can we understand and conquer it? In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between society and environment, both of which contribute to the development and perpetuation of anxiety.
An Unseen Enemy: Understanding Anxiety
At its very core, anxiety is a fear of the unknown. It can manifest in a variety of ways, from excessive worrying and negative thoughts, to physical unease or a sense of dread. It’s important to make the distinction between anxiety and fear, as fear is often based in the present moment, while anxiety stems from future concerns. It’s also important to understand that anxiety can be beneficial when managed properly, as it can serve as a warning system for potential danger, remind us of our strengths, and promote solutions for challenging circumstances.
As it relates to this article, it’s essential to know that anxiety is a normal part of human experience and that we all encounter moments of uncertainty. What matters most is not fighting against the feeling of anxiety itself, but rather managing it and understanding why these worries have taken root in our lives.
Brainstorming Causes: Exploring Deep Roots
There’s no single cause of anxiety and its triggers can be both uplifting as well as damaging. Our personal experiences, family situations, and genetics all shape our sensitivity and response to anxious feelings. It’s also important to note that one’s environment and society contribute significantly to how they experience and manage anxiety.
On an individual level, certain personal experiences can lead to long-term worries or concerns. Traumatic events, stressful situations, and learning disabilities can all contribute to an anxious mindset, as can one’s upbringing or childhood environment. With time, the individual can learn to manage and control their anxious thoughts, however those deep-rooted issues remain.
From birth, our families can have a large impact on our health, both mentally and physically. When parents or caregivers demonstrate a negative and fearful outlook on life, individuals can learn to anticipate danger and worry about future events. This can lead to extreme caution and hesitancy when it comes to taking risks and being bold. On the other hand, a supportive and loving environment can provide individuals with the confidence they need.
While our genes can’t be changed, they can tell us much about our internal wiring and how we respond to stress and anxiety. Certain genetic attributes can increase our susceptibility to anxiety-related disorders, yet each of us can still work towards curbing the symptoms and learning to manage our thoughts and emotions.
Measuring the Impact of Society on Mental Health
In today’s world, our social environments play a major role in our overall wellbeing. As technology allows us to be constantly connected, we’re exposed to an influx of information and can often find ourselves in overwhelming and intimidating situations. Our society’s pressure to be continuously productive and successful can also add to our anxieties and experiences of failure.
Comparison & Social Media
We’re constantly up against our friends, coworkers, and even strangers in a game of comparison. With access to online profiles and an endless array of content, individuals can begin to measure their value against that of others and lead to a sense of failure. It’s important to remember that comparison is the thief of joy and can be especially dangerous to those already living with anxiety.
Performance & Perfectionism
- Pressure to perform at the highest level, often leading to lost sleep, extreme stress, and a feeling of inferiority.
- The pursuit of perfectionism, from physical to personal attributes, can reduce self-esteem and lead to an overwhelming disappointment when expectations aren’t met.
- Achievement-focused culture, which promotes constant striving and often disregards individual needs.
It’s clear that our society’s relentless desire for success, perfection, and productivity has repercussions not just on our mental health, but on our physical and emotional wellbeing.
Uncovering How Our Environment Can Influence Us
From the neighborhoods in which we live to the jobs we take on, our environment has an immense impact on our mental health. It affects our daily experiences, decision-making abilities, and the environment we create for ourselves.
The type of neighborhood we live in affects our daily life, from the people we meet to the stressors we face. If we reside in a low-income or potentially dangerous area, we’re more likely to experience anxious and paranoid feelings. Conversely, living in a middle- or upper-class area can help reduce anxiety and provide feeling of security.
Our careers and working environment can have a direct and profound impact on our mental health. High-pressure jobs, excessive workloads, and uncooperative coworkers can all create an oppressive stress-filled environment, leading to feelings of fear, doubt, and depression. It’s important to seek out healthy and supportive working environments to optimize mental health.
Finally, our social circles and the activities we engage in can have a major effect on our wellbeing. Social isolation and avoidance of leisurely activities can lead to depression, while positive and healthy interactions with friends, family, and coworkers can reduce stress and create a sense of calm.
Crafting a Pathway to Healing: Strategies for Coping
There are countless strategies for coping with anxiety, some more effective than others. Here are a few to keep in mind:
- Take time for yourself to focus on relaxation and calming activities, such as reading and physical exercise.
- Set realistic and achievable goals, with the understanding that there will be setbacks and struggles along the way.
- When you start to become overwhelmed, try to pause and focus on your breathing or simply observe your surroundings.
- Journaling is a great way to reflect on your feelings, thoughts, and emotions on a regular basis.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to your support system (friends, family, and professionals) when you need help.
Ultimately, crafting a pathway to healing is all about understanding your triggers and acknowledging any unhealthy thoughts or patterns. Be patient with yourself and make realistic goals you can manage, and when there are overwhelming moments, remember that it will eventually pass.
Facing Anxiety in the Modern World: Reflection & Moving Forward
Anxiety can be an ever-present specter, but instead of dismissing it and being blind to the root causes, there’s much to be gained by exploring the origin of our anxious thoughts.
We must reflect on our own experiences and recognize the impact of society and our environment. Facing our fears and worries can tell us much about ourselves and our capabilities, and provide us with the courage and strength to move through them and take on challenging moments with confidence.
It’s obvious that anxiety will never truly disappear, but with a better understanding of our thought patterns, an increased awareness of our external environment, and a willingness to actively manage our worries, we can make real progress in curbing the symptoms and learning to live life to its fullest.
Anxiety is a complex emotion with many contributing factors, and its effects can be felt in both the physical and the emotional realms. Society and environment both play a role in its development and perpetuation, yet if we take the time to explore the deep roots of our anxious thoughts, we can learn to craft a path towards healing and courageously face our fears as we move forward.