Doubtless, we can no longer afford to ignore the fact that anxiety, free floating fretting about that which might or might not happen, is a natural consequence of life. Doubtless, we can also no longer afford to ignore the fact that this anxiety is making us ill.
For years, existentialists like Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Martin Heidegger have been telling us this. For years, too many of us have failed to listen. At least in part, this is the reason that in the United States, anxiety is the most common mental illness, affecting more than 40 million adults each and every year.
These existentialists told us that as humans, we have freedom to make decisions every step of the way although, admittedly, this may not always seem to be the case. These existentialists also told us that like it or not, we must bear personal responsibility for our decisions, whether made consciously or by default through inaction. At least these existentialists did admit that if we constantly acknowledged this weighty ball and chain to which we remain forever shackled, we’d probably not be able to function.
At least in part, this is the reason why a recent study found that nearly 37% of workplace respondents reported symptoms of anxiety in the past year. At least in part, this is also the reason those existentialists warned us that in reality, our fantasy mind games will not save us – those fantasy mind games we play that make it appear as if constraints outside our control are running the show.
- The alarm goes off.
- You roll out of bed as if on auto pilot even though you know quite well that you could choose to turn it off, roll over, and go back to sleep. Yet without acknowledging your option to return to the ‘land of nod’, you down a cup of coffee half-heartedly grumbling about an early morning meeting and/or a long commute.
- You then fill the rest of your day with urgent tasks that former US president Eisenhower (the Eisenhower Principle) would have decided weren’t important because if they had been important, they’d not have been urgent.
- According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review (part of a 6-art series entitled Managing in an Anxious World), at the end of the day, more likely than not, you go back to bed exhausted, having allowed yourself to have been interrupted, on average, 50-60 times regarding matters, 80% of which were urgent but not important.
Doubtless, in the wake of the Covid-19, more people than ever will be afflicted with existential anxiety. Doubtless more decisions will be taken by not by design, but by default. Doubtless, the Sun now having moved from calm, collected Taurus to anxiety-prone, easily distracted Gemini, will only make matters worse.
Perhaps it’s time for you to get a grip on your anxiety before you also get ill?