We all have busy lives. That busyness can include “legitimate” demands on our time (classes, relationships, employment, practicing refining an art or sport, etc.), as well as additional demands on our attention – including a somewhat constant and compulsive attention to electronic devices. Anxiety symptoms – in the forms of thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations – can both drive these behaviors and be a consequence of them, causing a vicious cycle for many. Subsequently, many of us find that the time between getting in bed in the evening (or the early morning?) and falling asleep to be the only opportunity to listen to themselves. When we then find only anxious thoughts and feelings in the silence, we can then find ourselves exploring ways to fill that up too. Sometimes that includes getting up again and doing more homework, or putting on a screen until we just can’t hold our eyelids open anymore. Practiced regularly, this approach to our daily lives is obviously not sustainable and often creates challenging side effects: difficulty sustaining attention, panic, near-constant worry, irritability and other mood fluctuations, and management strategies including overuse of alcohol and other drugs.
I frequently hear students say that they worry, even when they aren’t quite sure what there is to worry about. This hypervigilance is extremely common, and unaddressed can develop into Generalized Anxiety Disorder and/or Major Depressive Disorder. So our strategy must to to interrupt this cycle. Notice what our patterns are, particularly noticing if it is difficult for us to be with our own thoughts and how we use external stimuli to “stuff” those thoughts and feelings down. Try going on a walk (without earbuds) – sometimes low impact exercise gives us enough to stimulate our brain while also beginning the practice of staying present with ourselves. For additional strategies to help finding some quiet within ourselves, check out one of my posts from earlier this semester: Finding Some “Quiet” on Campus.
As always, if it would feel better to talk this out with one of us, just come by 117 Reynolda or give us a call anytime: 336.758.5273.
Categories: UCC News