It’s no secret that today’s society contributes to and feeds the development of anxiety in many of us. Some of the most common forms of anxiety result from over-immersing oneself with information and media.
Social media, online news, and the 24-hour cable news cycle mean that we are constantly bombarded with media that can inform us if consumed appropriately, but that can also easily overwhelm us. San Francisco-based psychiatrist Dr. Krishan Abeyatunge cites the avalanche of media headlines as an example, explaining that if you are constantly consuming news about everything that is wrong with the world, it can generate a level of existential dread.
Spotting Real Anxiety
Anxiety is a broad and widely misused term, and the experience varies from person to person. Because of this, it can be quite difficult to recognize it in ourselves and in our loved ones. How do we distinguish between normal stress, personality traits, and the deep-rooted sense of general anxiety? Dr. Abeyatunge agrees that recognizing anxiety can be a challenge and recommends to try the following:
- Meditate for three minutes and see if you can fully relax or if the act of trying to relax induces more anxiety.
- Do some research, educate yourself about anxiety and how it manifests itself.
- Talk to a friend or trusted advisor who has experience in distinguishing anxiety from average, day-to-day stress.
- Sit with a professional to discuss your anxious feelings and your overall sense of wellness.
Anxiety Management Tips
To minimize anxiety, we must minimize our triggers and be mindful about where we are directing our energies. This is not always easy, as our environment is teeming with media. Often we are confronted with stimuli and triggers without seeking them out. Dr. Abeyatunge recommends vocalizing or transcribing your thoughts.
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- Identify your triggers and develop a strategy for limiting your exposure to them (i.e. remove Facebook from your phone, or only allow yourself to read/watch one news source per day).
- Vocalize (or transcribe) your feelings, both positive developments and any unexpected challenges of the process.
- Be mindful of where you are directing your energies, even if passive intruders (i.e. television, radio, friends, etc.)
- Develop a mechanism for accountability, such as reporting back to your therapist on your progress limiting your triggers
- Don’t replace one trigger for another.
- Spend time exploring yourself and your own needs, desires, traumas and fears. Whether with a therapist or through a more private exploration and expression of your mind (i.e. a journal), self-exploration and awareness are key to good mental and emotional health.