Unraveling Anxiety in Small Pieces
I guess this is something I talk about right now. Didn't mean to write all my posts about anxiety, but here we are. Maybe I'll give it a rest after this. I never thought of myself as a particularly anxious person, but it has been very noticeable these last few years, and lately, for health and fertility reasons, I've been really trying to unwind that tension.
The main thing I want to talk about is fine-tuning the anxiety radar. Paying more attention, so that I can feel that tension spin up and back off, in small ways. For example, watching a cop show. I love cop shows, and I like to watch them while I do busy work and make dinner. But even that creates tension. That's the point, in a sense - it's a dramatic show, and it's meant to be exciting, create an emotional and adrenaline reaction. But when I am trying to unwind that tension, perhaps I should stick to Pride and Prejudice. Who am I kidding? I won't do that, but awareness is always the first piece, and greater awareness leads to greater control.
More importantly, I am taking a break from checking the news. I have a tendency to check the news hoping it'll give me the all clear, that things are okay now. You may be shocked to find this hasn't happened. Meanwhile, hearing about the latest stupid angry tweet, and latest immigrant mistreated at the border isn't going to help me be able to live my life. I am however, going to a local protest/ACLU announcement on Monday. The idea here is to reduce nebulous far away scary influences, and increase involvement and participation in life here, in the actual world around me.
Of course, part of me wants to go live in a cabin with no electricity, and no internet, and I feel like that would solve my problems. It might create some other problems, but it does sound like a good time. At home though, we keep the wifi off most of the time, and use ethernet to plug in computers at a desk. Side note: curse the laptop manufacturers who make laptops without an ethernet connection, but I think you can get an ethernet-USB plug. If that sounds wildly old school and ridiculous, I'd like to say that the only advantage of wireless is you can move around with it. Otherwise, ethernet is faster and more secure. So if you are working at your desk, there is no advantage to wireless. Yes, it does require setting up and access to the router. But if you have that, why even use wifi?
I feel intuitively that having the wifi off makes the space in the house feel calmer and more relaxed. We as humans are bombarding ourselves with a zillion different wavelengths in a way the human species has never experienced before, and I feel that must have some effect on our minds and bodies. I can't prove it, and probably we won't know without 100 years of experience and hindsight to see what it does to our bodies and civilization. But a huge part is the intentionality of it. I intend to check my computer, so I go sit down at my desk. Right now, I'm typing on my laptop, but it's at my pondering corner, so I've unplugged it, and I have no ability to check various emails and internet things, nothing can go bing at me, without picking my butt up and moving to my desk and plugging in.
That's another thing that is new to the human race - this much convenience. Physical world inconvenience creates mental space between activities. It strikes me as unnatural that one device will ding at you with messages that you need to pay your bills, do things for work, call your mom back, buy a present for your niece's birthday, RSVP to that birthday, and 14 people liked a post you made, and someone posted an irritating political view on another post, which makes you want to go set them straight. That's too much all it once. It smooshes all the disparate areas of life together all in a mush, and that's tension producing. Gross!
A more natural way has separation between these things. You have to go to work to do work stuff, you have to sit at your desk and write a note, or check the mail at the box. You pick up one book to read on thing, and to read something else you have to get a different book off the shelf, or from the book store or library.
This is what I think about. It's worse for me because I'm self employed and trying to reorganize my life, so I don't go to an office. Only the coffee shop, so there aren't enough separations in my life as it is. It's different for each of us, but I think this aspect of modern life creates a sense of waiting tension - you know something is going to drop, just don't know when. Is it now? Or now? Who can relax like that?
We are being assaulted with distractions all the time - web site ads, pop ups, notifications, those blinding electronic billboards. There were new tv screens at Safeway the other day (Ew). Why? I want to use every way that I can to pull back from that way of living. It's hard to think my own thoughts in that environment.
In the time of writing this, my phone (which I put on airplane mode at night) has given me two text message tones and one phone call ring from across the room. And I'll bet that text was a spam garbage text from an email address and the call was a robocall from Kevin offering me a great way to make money easy. And each time I heard that sound I felt my shoulders tense up. (Edit: Assumption confirmed. That's exactly what that call and text was.)
So what's the point? It's, for one, that it's hard to have a train of thought like this. And for two, we need to take active steps to protect ourselves. Along with trying to curate and protect my mental space, no news, airplane mode phone at night, minimizing apps on the phone - no Facebook app (privacy is a nightmare with that one anyway), no news apps, nothing should give alerts except texts and calls, in my opinion. Turn all those notifications off.
And in addition I've been taking a small bit of CBD and Melatonin at night. I sleep more soundly, and I think that helps a ton. I think it's important to attack these issues from both sides - from the tangible practical side and the emotional side. Practically, I'm doing all the above. Emotionally, I'm doing some breathing and meditations, I take a bit of devil's club tincture, and light a candle every morning, I check in with my deities and my own energy. I journal, to release whatever I have on the brain at the moment. I pay as much attention to my own state of being as I can, and acknowledge it and steer it in a positive direction.
I am not saying I know the answer. I think these issues are complicated because there isn't one answer. There are a lot of answers and they all play a part. It's like saying, "oh, do some exercise, that'll fix your anxiety." That's clearly glib and silly. But it might be one of 700 small changes that can help take the edge off, which may add up to some real results. Life is freaking complicated. We live in a weird time. I'm not telling you what to do. I felt like talking about what I'm doing, and I want for you, dear lone reader, to trust your own intuition about what's a good influence and what's a bad, and curate your environment one bit at a can, to make it a happier habitat.