Tackling those anxious feelings
Anxiety is blamed for a whole lot of misfortunes that affect people. It is said to cause everything from turning one’s hair prematurely grey to over indulging in fattening junk food. It really hit close to home when I saw the presentation on Kentucky Educational Television by the popular psychiatrist Dr. Amen. He said anxiety can add to memory loss.
So, I decided to look in the dictionary to see what the word ‘anxiety’ really means. The official listing read as follows: ‘n.pl ties. 1. Distress or uneasiness raised by fear of danger or misfortune.’
A far more graphic explanation of the word ‘anxiety’ was listed in Similes Dictionary. Some one named W.P Kinsella wrote: ‘A feeling of vague anxiety … snuffing about me like cold-nosed rodents, like reading of a favorite baseball player whose star has descended to the point where he parks cars at a restaurant or sits in a room above a delicatessen in Indianapolis, drinking vodka and waiting for his pension.’
I’m aware we do not live in Indianapolis, but maybe you can relate to this description of the word ‘anxiety’ by William E. Geist: ‘There is the same pain and panic when your computer locks up as when you have an attack of appendicitis.’
Or, how about this one by someone called Anon: ‘Frantic as a mouse in a trap.’ Or, Dorothy B Francis’s description: ‘Felt like a switchboard with all my nerves on emergency alert.’
Yipes! I can relate to all of those definitions and descriptions of the condition of anxiety. And who wouldn’t have at least a tad of this dread condition. Look at our national situation. The government is in turmoil. We are in the midst of an opiate epidemic. Shootings and terrorist attacks invade places we used to assume were safe and secure. Relentless natural disasters are ravaging our environment.
On the international scene, things are even less positive. Refugees flee from natural disasters and conflicts, finding crowded camps at best. There is loose talk and action promoting testing and deployment of nuclear weapons. A wide Web of cyber bandits are trolling and undermining our technology. Spy and space stories have never been as scary as reality today.
Anxious? Watch the news in real time and you won’t be surprised that we are in a state of anxiousness. Much of the information I found linked anxiety with the sense of our inability to do anything about the awful stuff going on around us. I can hear the children cry as the bombs fall in Syria but what can I do that will alter what happens in that distant country? I can cry with the parents who lost children in the school shooting in Florida, but I cannot with my own hands change the environment of hate in our world.
We all have obstacles that stop us from addressing and rectifying the problems that enter our lives. Some have to do with our age, training, resources, etc. Personally, I am hit with a double whammy. I am a senior citizen and did not grow up with technology. So, there may be a lot of new innovations that would make my diminished body work better but I am too non-techie to take advantage of them. My hearing aids that work in tandem with my smartphone and our television that has a thousand options sometimes, yes, give me a case of ‘anxiety.’
Sure, I can donate to causes that need money to improve their conditions. Certainly, I can contact my legislators on a local and national level. Yes, I can sign petitions that advocate my beliefs. With the close congressional election that just took place in Pennsylvania, we were all reminded that one vote matters.
But, it is closer to home that I have always found my sense of empowerment in combatting life’s challenges. I can see that I have made a difference in the world when I bend down to encourage a child or assume responsibility for serving on a committee. Cleaning up trash on a roadside or volunteering at the hospital make tangible improvements to my community and lets me know I can have input and an amount of control over much in my life.
Volunteering to share whatever talents you have connects you with others and assures us all that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. I can see, feel and benefit from what I do in my own home community. Life isn’t such a big, dark, overwhelming cloud swirling around us when we can experience the consequences of our own efforts. Perhaps that is why I am such a booster for local community involvement. What a positive feeling a volunteer gets when hammering nails with others to build a Habitat for Humanity home or when blending voices to create a church choir.
Try it; you may like it.
Each of us has something positive to contribute to our community and has problems with which we could use some help. Let’s get together this spring and share such gifts and needs. That is how a community heals and grows. This is our attack on anxiety.
Remember the alternative: ‘Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere’ (Anonymous).