Anxiety World

Anxiety World

Some mornings I wake up and am almost crushed by the weight of global anxiety. It takes real effort not to catastrophize the lives of my grandchildren, to wonder how crazy things might be by the time they are adults having to navigate an increasingly fraught world. To be perfectly honest, some mornings the pressure is such that I must take full advantage of four count yoga breathing to get on top of it.

Are you finding yourself more anxious or even depressed about the state of the world and our shared future? Have you found ways to cope with it? I know many people who say they’ve simply stopped listening, watching and reading because it makes them crazy AND there’s nothing they can do to make an impact. Certainly, some people have taken up arms and flown to Ukraine in hopes of effecting some change on the front lines, or supporting the flood of refugees in nearby Eastern European nations. But when it comes to the travesty of democracy unfolding south of the border, the sheer size and power of some of the institutions which have clearly lost their way (hello, Secret Service) is staggering, and the chances of making a dent in that armor seem microscopic by comparison.

As Gary Mason recently observed in the Globe and Mail, Canadians are increasingly angry, behaving not quite like…Canadians. Some of the vitriol being publicly spewed is truly alarming, far beyond embarrassing.

Difficult as it sometimes is, I believe it’s important that we at least witness what’s going on and falling apart around us. We’ve always known that the presence of a camera changes the dynamic of what goes on, and I live in the hope that our presence, watching and listening, serves a purpose.

But as Amanda Ripley argues in an editorial in the Washington Post, many of us are struggling with “headline stress disorder” where the news itself is making us ill, both mentally and physically. She writes that the news coverage is lacking three significant themes which we need to be able to ingest, absorb and cope with the world: hope, agency and dignity. If so many lives are dismissed as worthless, simply by the way they are reported upon, how can we believe our own lives have dignity?

“There is a way to communicate news — including very bad news — that leaves us better off as a result. A way to spark anger and action. Empathy alongside dignity. Hope alongside fear. There is another way, and it doesn’t lead to bankruptcy or puffery. But right now, these examples I’ve listed remain far too rare.”

— Ripley

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Joanna Piros