AGE OF ANXIETY

J – I’ve been noticing lately that people seem to be so stressed out. I’ve never gotten the “stink eye” so often. What’s up with everyone? Are we all just overcommitted, overworked and out of time, all of the time? We live in a world of sound bites and stimulation overload. Perhaps the pressures of a life lived in the fast lane 24/7 are causing us to spin out of control. The other day in the city, for example, I cut this guy off by accident. (Sorry, it happens. I was distracted by the two cab drivers duking it out.) He pulled up in front of me, in his convertible, stopped his car abruptly, stood up on his seat, pulled down his pants and mooned me, showing me his seat. Seriously. If it had been a nice booty, I might have been amused. But sadly it was not.

M – We’re an extremely stressed-out nation. Thanks to our increasing global interconnectedness, I think we feel not only our own pain but that of those around the globe more acutely. As a kid, I found watching the Vietnam War on the nightly news horrifying. But that was nothing compared to what you see and read about today. I’m not sure that statistically things have gotten worse, but it sure feels that way. It’s no wonder that Americans are running, as the Rolling Stones so eloquently put it, “to the shelter of (their) mother’s little helper” in record numbers.

J – Our brains just aren’t hardwired to handle angst and anxiety of this magnitude. Sometimes I feel like I’m living a chapter straight out of the Book of Job. I need to dam the tidings of despair that are slowly eroding my sanity. But are antidepressants the answer? There are so many side effects associated with these drugs – weight gain, loss of libido, nausea, headaches, agitation and the list goes on. Are we suffering from anxiety or our attempts at anxiety relief? Anger management is a real issue that seems to be on the rise. Have you noticed the bad behavior exhibited at some of our children’s local sporting events by grown-ups? Exactly what kind of message are we sending to our children by screaming insanely at them for a missed shot or goal – or worse at each other? We need to start checking our egos and tempers at the door, along with our coats, before we enter the “arena”.

M – Yes and we need to find ways to de-stress so we don’t implode. When meditating, yoga and soaking in an aromatherapy bath don’t work, I try one of these:

  • I go to drugstores and read the humorous greeting cards.
  • When it’s raining , my daughter and I run around the yard until we’re feeling cleansed and crazy happy.
  • If I can find a secluded enough spot, I like to let out a loud, primordial scream.
  • I was a big fan of “Candid Camera” and now I love “Punk’d. “ And if just watching the show doesn’t help, I’ll pull out a prank book and attempt one of my own.
  • I go to a comedy show.
  • I watch funny animal YouTube videos or go to the National Geographic website to see the latest photo winners.
  • And you?

J – For now I’ve decided to take a break from the prime-time news and get my global updates from “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Wag Ups:

“Floating Kabarette,” at the Galapagos Art Space, in Brooklyn. galapagosartspace.com (J)
Gretchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project.” A great study of happiness and how better to achieve it. (M)

Wag Downs:

People who double-park. If you’re not infirmed in anyway, then park appropriately and hoof it. (J)
People who write letters anonymously. If you have something to say, stand behind it or save the ink. (M)

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