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Psychology | Coping with anxiety

a choice of paths

Over the past hundred years anxiety has become an epidemic and trying to avoid it changes people’s lives. We have all become more selfish and less sociable. We like to think we are more sociable with global communication systems allowing us to have friends far and wide. We never actually get to meet most of them though. They are not there in our everyday lives giving us support and getting truly involved. Facebook friends are a poor substitute for a friend who will come around and cook for us when we are sick and who will visit us in hospital.

The cause of this anxiety seems to be that we all judge each other more harshly and are less charitable. So how can we change things? It is almost impossible to change our own beliefs, but they are influenced by our friends, by the newspapers we read and the media we come in contact with. We can choose our friends, we can choose which newspaper to read and we can choose which television programmes to watch.

If you are watching all disaster movies and horror movies that will give you a false view of the world. If you read a politically left-wing newspaper exclusively and never read more liberal newspapers; that will influence you towards left-wing political views. Many popular ‘soaps’ on UK television depict life as less than desirable with characters lives revolving around going down the pub and coping with one crisis after another. The writers have tried to improve viewing figures with plane crashes on country villages, train crashes, murder, incest, rape, robbery and every known crime and perversion. Is life really like that? Do we really need to know about the lives of the weird and twisted? The BBC puts on some good drama, but it has over the years pandered to the politically correct. The token black or Asian character is introduced, the first gay kiss and then it keeps on becoming more and more radical. I saw a bit of a BBC drama the other night and I think every character was a lesbian. I’m not keen on that series ‘friends’ where they are oh, so pally and hug and kiss at every opportunity. Are friends in America really like that? Young people here seem to copy the behaviour from television and when their ‘best friends forever’ let them down and move on; they are anxious and unhappy.

The behaviour of families seems to be defined by television too. Do families really behave like the ones on television, constantly arguing? Young people need role models. Are the role models on television, in films and portrayed in magazines, really suitable or desirable?

If anxiety is affecting your life. What can you do about it? You can’t readily change your own beliefs. You can say, I will not be anxious or worried and it will make no difference. You can decide to change your life and take a different path however. Decide to cancel the newspaper and read news from diverse sources, be selective about what you read and what you watch on television. Stop watching soaps for example and perhaps watch more educational or cultural programs. You might even watch less television in favour of something else. You could perhaps set some sensible and achievable goals for your life.  If anxiety makes it hard for you to socialise for example, you could take small steps towards socialising and mixing with people more. That could be anything that you have  an opportunity to do from joining a group of like-minded people to simply getting out more to places where people go. The first step down a different path is deciding which path you want to take. Many people are finding anxiety is inhibiting them, stopping them going out from the security of their own home, stopping them from getting a job, stopping them from socialising and stopping them from living life to the full. The first step to solving such problems is to recognise that there is a problem and take a small step towards living differently.

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