Anxiety Causes: Why Anxiety Is Such a Problem in the Modern World
It is estimated that one in every six people in the United States suffers from anxiety. Mental health organizations warn that anxiety levels are creeping even higher, blaming the culture of the modern world, where everything is “on” all the time. Down time, when someone can just sit back and relax for a bit, is getting ever more scarce.
The modern world is constantly changing. New technology, new job responsibilities, having a baby, divorce, and unanticipated physical disabilities are just a few of the constantly changing aspects of our world today. One of the primary causes of anxiety is uncertainty, and all of these changes fuel that uncertainty, causing anxiety.
Anxiety is everywhere
The effects of anxiety are everywhere. We worry about the future and we worry about the past. These worries cause anxiety and interfere with our ability to live productively. They cause us to limit our connections with other people. They sap our energy. Anxiety reduces our focus and undermines our health. We become what we think, and anxiety is a way of thinking that can be lived with by an individual, or by making a conscious decision to change that way of thinking for the better.
Choose to make positive changes
In order to make positive changes in regard to anxiety, one must first identify what it is in the modern world that is causing them to be anxious. Is it a real threat to their existence, or a perceived threat? If it reveals itself to be perceived, then one can change their thinking — “This is not a worst-case scenario. I can manage it.” Making new choices means challenging current ways of thinking and exercising the will to make those choices.
So much is different in the world today. How can people change their thinking in the modern world, when their thought patterns have been established since childhood? People don’t know how to relate to the world around them and struggle to make sense of what they can do to change it. They can’t. They can’t change the world, and it will always be changing. But they can accept that fact and instead choose to change how they perceive those changes.
Over-stimulation is also a huge source of anxiety. The noise, music, conversation, touch, and sights of the modern world can all feel overwhelming, and be experienced as too intense, uncontrollable and painful. In addition to anxiety, over-stimulation can cause physical pains as well. We clench our teeth and tense our muscles in reaction to our anxiety.
We respond be becoming ever more alert to cut over-stimulation off at the pass, but the more alert we become, the more susceptible to over-stimulation and anxiety we become. We need to identify what is causing the over-stimulation in our world and change how we perceive it, choosing not to allow it to define our lives. This takes practice but is one of the only ways to defeat the monsters that cause our anxiety.
How we think others see us causes anxiety
Another major cause of anxiety in our lives is the way we interpret how others view us. When we internalize negative feedback from others again and again, it results in a low self-esteem, which is at the heart of anxiety. Learning to embrace positive thoughts over negative ones helps us establish self-worth, which enables up to crawl out of that scary condition of low-self-esteem.
We live in a world that is constantly stimulating and ever-changing. Learning to manage the modern world without major anxiety is a challenge, but it is one that can be met. The key is choosing to take it on.
New Republic, Everybody is Anxious, and Nobody Wants to Talk About It, April 18, 2014, Sophie McBain