Attack stressors, anxiety with fresh perspective on insignificant problems

Taking it easy has never been so hard. We live in a society run by problems. Issues, stress and anxiety push us to the edge and looking down at the raging river of failure motivates us to survive. From entering grade-school, to paying college tuition to starting a family, life is fueled by stressors, but recently, the camel’s back has been creaking. According to a report by USA Today, 26 percent of college students have deeply considered getting therapeutic help for their anxiety, a fear fueled by the task of picking a career that will absolutely change one’s life.

Packed tightly in between paying off student loans and getting a job (something that hasn’t been particularly easy, especially since the 2007 recession), college stress levels are peaking, and as a testament to the sureness of stress, almost every human on the planet is feeling it more and more on a daily basis. We forget the simple fact, as we make massive to-do lists in our head and climb into OCD turtle shells, that anxiety has a simple, well-known, but rarely followed cure: relaxation.

On an evolutionary level, it’s not difficult to see why we incorporate stress so readily in our lives. It’s an instinct to hunt, hide, run from fierce creatures and resist starvation. But, let’s face it people, we aren’t facing an ice-age, and although we may feel the urge to hide behind our curtains whenever census-takers knock on our doors, we are not being chased by saber-toothed tigers.

We’re, quite obviously, advancing into an age of easier altruism and leisure time. This isn’t the industrial revolution and we aren’t hunter-gatherers, so put down that wrench, those berries, or whatever outdated philosophy you carry, and accept the fact that we have an opportunity never afforded to any culture before. We live in a society that has most of the answers; we just don’t accept them for their simplicity.

The problem with cliches is that they are so right, but beaten out enough to where nobody wants to listen to them. If you’ve ever looked up in an elementary school classroom or in a dentist’s waiting room, you’ve seen a motivational poster, and odds are it was cheesy. Simple phrases such as “Hang in there,” “Keep calm” and “Life is a garden; dig it,” make us squirm, as we have a cultural tendency to shun cheese. It’s problematic because these posters are right: issues are often not as bad as we spin them to be, and hanging in there, keeping calm or “digging” life could be the true path to happiness, we are just so averted to simple answers that we refuse to acknowledge them. In our minds, there has to be a convoluted answer to the question of happiness or relaxation, when in all reality the solution to stress and anxiety is to simply relax.

I’m not saying everyday problems aren’t significant. Problems are relative. One man’s issue-packed week is another man’s weekend vacation to the Virgin Islands. It’s insensitive and irresponsible to denounce other people’s problems because we all fight a battle, and to brand other’s as ridiculous is hypocrisy. I would never say that someone’s problem is insignificant, but I will always stand by the belief that although you may have a whole heap thrown at your feet, you can always take a deep breath and start climbing.

Haidar is a junior majoring in journalism.

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