Anxiety: Does it drive you busy?
We live in a manic society, where being busy, active and target driven have become huge concerns. Education teaches it, advertising and the media promote it, many of us just accept it. There’s an advert on the London underground, which suggests that if you’re tired and ready to drop what you need is an effervescent pill to give you the energy to keep going. What about resting?
Anxiety drives much of this. Often it is really hard to give ourselves permission to relax and stop tasking. Have we finished the list of jobs? Have we done well enough? Will our boss/partne/kids/friends like us if we don’t get it all done? Do I have any worth as a human being if I can’t achieve as much, do as much, have as much as others?
Anxiety isn’t nice. Whatever the cause or the particular form it takes, our natural reaction is to try to get away from it. Often trying to get away from it drives our behaviour. It can lead to addiction to substances, sex, the Internet and many other fixers. Perhaps the most common reaction is to get busy. These are all ways to deal with anxiety as a symptom and don’t tackle the underlying problem.
If you have to keep busy until you drop or get ill, then it could be that anxiety is behind it. You might not be aware of this, as keeping busy ensures you don’t have space for much else. One way to find out is to throw away the task list for a day and do nothing. Really nothing. Not watching TV, gardening or little tasks around the home. Just nothing. See how bearable silence is for you. How do you feel about yourself if you do nothing?
It may simply just be a blessed relief in a naturally busy life. Or it could be that just sitting around or watching the clouds drift by you have the overwhelming feeling that you need to do something. What will you tell others when they ask how your day was? Will you feel ashamed? Does the idea of reporting that you did nothing make you feel anxious? It may be you already have the sense that being busy is not enough any more, and anxiety, depression or a host of other feelings are arising unbidden.
If you suspect anxiety does drive you busy you may want to do something about it. At stake is your health, the space in your life for relationships and family, and time to be yourself. Give yourself time to stop and reflect. There are many ways to manage anxiety, but to really tackle it you need to explore what creates the anxiety and make peace with it. That can be hard on your own, and that’s where counselling can help.
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