The other night I was contemplating the WHY behind so many people feeling anxious and overwhelmed when we’ve been doing the same things other people have been doing for hundreds of years. In fact, we have more help than ever, and yet, we are more stressed out than ever.
This article seemed to offer the most reasonable explanations for WHY, but it didn’t offer any remedies. For a moment, I wondered if there were any remedies, or are we Americans doomed to a life of worry?
I just can’t accept that.
The article cited above gave 3 main reasons for anxiety and stress in America.
1. Loss of a real life community.
2. Information overload. (Remember, when I wrote about Homeschool Information Overload?)
3. The inability to sit with our feelings without medicating them in some way.
I agree with these findings.
My happiest memories of my adulthood involve being a part of a church that was like family, having wonderful neighbors who spent time together, and having family nearby.
I also know I am bombarded by more information than I can possibly sift through every single day. I’ve felt my anxiety level rise as I’ve lifted the lid on my laptop, knowing my inbox would be overflowing, my Facebook feed teeming, and voices from every direction sharing ideas, suggestions, and how-to’s that are guaranteed to make my life better. Except they don’t.
I’m also familiar with the desire to run from my feelings…or eat them. Food is my medication of choice. The numbing effects of chocolate and sugar rescue me from feeling bad. I’ve also used the computer or other media to drown out the sadness or fear or loneliness. I don’t want to feel bad. Who really does?
Can you relate? Are you affected by a lack of community? Do you feel like there is too much information bombarding you every day? Are you afraid of uncomfortable feelings and turn to “medication” to avoid feeling them?
But, let’s not stop there…
Like I said, I’m not willing to throw my hands up and say, “Oh well, I guess this is just the way it is.” I KNOW a slower, simpler, less stressful life is possible. And for those suffering from anxiety, adrenal fatigue, and any other condition exacerbated by stress, it is IMPERATIVE we learn how to fix this.
So, first issue –
What can we do to foster a REAL LIFE sense of community?
1. Go to church. Actually, don’t just go, BE A PART of things. We may not always be able to be near family, but the Church offers that family atmosphere in a God-ordained community. I know personally how tough it is to keep going when you aren’t rooted in a church.
2. Work on friendships. Friendships are difficult for a mom of many who homeschools, but they are possible. They often come from relationships built at church or homeschool groups. You will also have to make an effort to build friendships. But, you don’t have to make it hard on yourself. Invite another family over. Have a cup of tea together. Loan a book. Learn more about the people around you. And PRAY for godly friendships!
3. Go outside and be visible. This might strange on the surface, but think about something for a moment…what happened to front porches? Do you know very few homes we have lived in over the years have had front porches? We currently live in a house that does, and we have met more people simply by sitting on the front porch!
Next issue –
How do we sift, filter, and slow information overload?
This one is tough for me. I like information. I like to dig for answers, try new things, make notes and bookmark tidbits. But it is killing me. I don’t manage it well because it truly is unmanageable. We are living in the information age. Information bombards us at the speed of a keystroke. It’s in our inboxes, on our social media, it’s pinging our phones, and popping up in the corners of our lives every second of the day. We are drowning in it. And getting out from under it feels impossible because so much of our lives involve “devices.”
I’m not even going to pretend to know all the answers here, but I can tell you what I am doing to slow the flow of information.
1. Spend less time on the computer. The less time I am on a computer or phone or tablet, the better I feel. The more I live life, the better I feel. I may not be writing as much here on Raising Arrows, but rest assured, when I do write, it’s because I actually have something to say that has been sparked by my REAL life.
2. Shut off the notifications. Yes, I may miss something. It won’t be the end of the world. I don’t need all those emails, notifications, pings, and promises clogging up my real life. If God wants me to see that information, He will put it in my path!
3. Put the internet in its “box.” My life is made up of boxes of time that act as boundaries and regulations. The computer needs to be in its box. It can’t be allowed to invade every other box of my life. This means when I pull up information for a homeschool lesson, I either need to print it off or I need to make a concerted effort to avoid going down a bunny trail, checking my email, or jumping on social media for a second. And when it is time to check email or social media, I do that, and then I’m done. This may mean shutting off the computer, putting it in a room that isn’t easily accessible, or choosing not to have my phone near me at all times. Yes, I do miss calls and texts and emails. Even if no one else understands, I know that my life cannot revolve around a digital device.
And lastly –
How do we cope with feeling sad, angry, or lonely without simply putting a bandage over it and pretending it isn’t there?
There’s really only one answer to this…
Cry out to Jesus.
There is pain in this life. Constantly running away and avoiding it makes us reliant on ourselves (or a magic pill – that doesn’t REALLY help). We have to allow ourselves to feel. We have to allow ourselves to just be. We have to allow the Lord to work in our lives because we know fully well we can do nothing else.
Something that article, and any other from a secular source, will never tell you is that you NEED to be SAVED from all this worry, stress, and strife. But, it isn’t a WHAT that is going to save you. It’s WHO.
Faith is tough, folks. It’s not the easy road. There are a lot of voices out there telling us we should think for ourselves, we should “get help”, we should do whatever it takes to get away, all the while avoiding the TRUTH. The answer isn’t a better ME. The answer is a perfect Savior who doesn’t need me to meet a certain standard, feel a certain way, or have the perfect plan.
Sometimes we try too hard.
This slow-down is an ongoing process. It takes time to build, repair, and learn the art of abiding. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me from myself!
Now, it’s your turn…
Are you struggling? Have you had victories? Share them here! Raising Arrows isn’t a REAL LIFE community, but the readers here REALLY DO CARE!