In the last several years I have more clients reporting anxiety over a myriad of national and global concerns (political upheaval, endless financial burden/stress, climate crisis, etc.). These concerns can often cause existential anxiety, leaving many to question the meaning and purpose of their life. Here are 5 suggestions about managing existential anxiety in our stressful world:
- Consider Boundaries Around the News: We all need to stay informed. However, we don’t need to be bombarded by news alerts on our phones all day if these alerts cause stress. It might also be helpful to watch or listen to the news just once a day (therefore still allowing yourself to be informed but not overwhelming yourself all day).
- Pick a Cause to Get Involved in: A common concern I hear in counseling is that there are “too many” issues or causes that are under assault that it can feel very overwhelming. Many people are struggling with how to help when there are so many different things to be upset about. We all also have limited time and energy. I encourage clients to pick one (maybe two depending on their other commitments) cause to get involved with or advocate for. Start with the one you are most passionate about. You can change the cause you’re involved in as things change over time.
- Increase Self-Care: Anytime we feel more stressed and anxious it is important to increase our self-care. Without engaging in self-care you will increase your risk of burnout, as well as other mental health issues. Pressed for time? Add self-care into activities like you’re already engaging in. For instance during your morning commute or during your daily bath/shower listen to a podcast or music that you enjoy.
- Create Your Own Happiness: Whether with your family, your career, a hobby, travel experiences, etc. find a way to engage in experiences that make you happy. Denying yourself these experiences will not change what is happening in the world.
- Remember that Anxiety Does Not Change Outcome: Being anxious about these existential issues does not change the outcome of these issues. Bring the focus back to what you can control—your own life. You can make decisions and take actions in your own life that reflect your values and the issue you care about. That matters.