On facing our anxieties instead of nurturing them:

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I read an article recently about the huge increase in prescriptions for medications like Xanax. That we’re prescribing 5xs the amount that we were just a decade and a half ago. I then went on Twitter and saw a huge debate on why you should never call someone on the phone and should always text them instead.

The tweet with the most likes was one that just read: I HAVE ANXIETY, KAREN.

I’ve thought for a while that we’ve been creating the kind of culture that nurtures anxiety instead of cures it. I understand why we’ve done this. I hate when I email someone and they call me instead of replying back. There is so much less pressure over email or text. But you know how you get rid of that deep dread that happens when you talk on the phone?

You talk on the phone.

We’re correct when we say that anxiety feels terrible, but the solution to that normally isn’t to avoid what is giving you anxiety, especially since most things that trigger anxiety don’t actually cause harm. If you’re anxious about a job interview the answer is not to never get a job. If you’re anxious about ending a bad relationship the answer is not to stay in a bad relationship.

The only way to get rid of common fears is to go out and do what your afraid of. We shouldn’t be sheltered from what stresses us out, especially when those things are necessary to life. Nobody wants you to face your fear about getting attacked, but your fear about asking someone where the toilet paper is in the store? Yeah, you should address that one.

I’m saying this as someone who used to have full blown anxiety attacks over everything as a child. I’m saying this as someone who carried Xanax in her purse for years. And I’m saying it as someone who was able to grow out of most of it by facing the social situations I was afraid of. Mainly because my mom forced me too, I’ll be honest. It was never something I wanted to do, but it was something I had to do and now it’s not something I have to worry about any more.

As a society we’re pulling farther away from anything that might make anyone uncomfortable. It’s nice in theory, but the problem is the list of uncomfortable things is never ending and as individuals our goal should be to be as high functioning as possible, even if it does mean getting uncomfortable to push past an unreasonable anxiety.

So set a time to call a friend instead of text them. Ask for extra ketchup. Compliment that strangers shoes. Do what it takes to ease the anxiety, soon you’ll have no problem with it.

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