In a world run by ever increasing stimuli, it comes as no surprise to see global anxiety levels and escapism habits increase year over year.
Now, a little anxiety here and there is normal and perfectly healthy for you. It’s in fact, your mind’s natural way of trying to protect you from any threats in your immediate environment.
Having said that, too many things seem to have become a threat nowadays.
Anxiety is a very helpful and useful response if, say, you’re about to bungee jump off a bridge.
Or otherwise, after giving your date the option of choosing anything off the menu at a Michelin star restaurant, when forgetting to glance at the prices.
It’s not so useful, however, when the waiter at the restaurant is waiting on your main course and you’re yet to read past the starters.
Just as useless, when a message you send your friend gets delivered and seen but you’re yet to receive a reply.
Your mind is likely to jump to all sorts of negative worries and conclusions. When your poor friend is probably simply placing a reply to you on their to do list after a visit to the loo or an ongoing meeting.
Constant Stimulation and Anxiety
Unfortunately, today’s interconnected world, filled with judgement, assumptions, and the abundance of choices and information, does enough to leave your mind stimulated and filled with worry most of the time.
Especially if things don’t go the way you expect them to.
Your mind is unable to switch off and just be!
As a result, increased baseline levels of anxiety today, are causing many people to develop an anxiety disorder at some point in their lifetime.
Anxiety disorders have in fact been on the increase in recent years due to constant stimulation.
The Flight to Escapism
Although anxiety itself is a harmless feeling, the discomfort it brings, does enough to have you increasingly turn towards escapism habits.
Escapism is the need to seek distraction in unpleasant times.
Unfortunately, most people turn to the bad habits.
Cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, gambling, junk food, social media are a few amongst the most common distractions you are likely to turn to feel good quick.
Short term fixes of the above, however, will never last in the long run. They can actually make your anxiety worse.
Just like patching up a flat tyre, and continuing to drive on it. If you don’t use the spare or repair it properly, the tyre will wear itself out.
The same with your body. If you constantly address your anxiety with bad escapism habits, in the long-run your nervous system will end up worn out.
That’s because bad escapism habits tend to further stimulate an over stimulated body.
Now, not all escapism has to be bad.
We are sentient beings after all and stimulation is a natural part of life.
Positive stimulation is in fact what we need when our bodies find themselves over-stimulated.
Hence, instead of running to your spliff or glass of red, the next time you get jittery, try using your senses in a positive way.
Turn up a calming piece of music, use positive visualisations, have a relaxing bath, go for a walk in nature…
You get the gist.
You can even watch a pleasant movie, provided you don’t binge on Netflix!
As stimulation inevitably increases all around us today , start becoming mindful of the ways you use your senses.
The next time your date orders the dry aged-Wagyu at a fancy restaurant, therefore, make the conscious decision to ditch knocking down that double whisky to ease your nerves.
Visualise yourself in a happy place instead.
Your wallet will certainly not reap any benefits out of it! Though your mind will at least train itself to use your senses and deal with discomfort more positively.
The result will be a happier stimulated you.