Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thoughts on Anxiety, Especially Job Anxiety

A jigsaw puzzle my dad and I put together. He put a backing on and preserved it.

I'm no expert, and my thoughts in this post are based on my personal experience, but I don't think too many people will argue with me when I say anxiety is no good. It's about as much fun as getting a root canal all day, every day.

My dad holds me, and my mom holds my older brother.
Aren't I a chunk?! Talk about fat cells! ;O}

Anxiety differs from depression in that it's being in a state of relentless agitation (a lack of peace). Often it's mercifully understated, but it's there nonetheless. Left unattended, the tension spring winds tighter and tighter. Sometimes it screams to be sure we're paying attention. "Do something!" it demands. What it means is "Do something different!" because the same-o, same-o isn't soothing the anxiety beast and releasing any pressure build-up. Years ago I had to leave a job because my extreme anxiety and stress didn't subside one whit over evenings or weekends (vacation was non-existent); it just kept building. The workload was utterly impossible. When it gets like that, Friends, it could very well be time to get out while you can walk out and not wait until "the big one" sends you out the door on a stretcher.

A watercolor done by a classmate of my grandfather.

However, anxiety is like depression in that if one needs medical treatment, one best seek it out asap. For instance, mitral valve prolapse has a strong connection with anxiety. I'm sure an online search would turn up many more medical connections. (So if you're experiencing anxiety, please be sure to talk to your doctor about it.)

And being that these are anxious times we live in doesn't help matters. If we think we're not anxious about anything, ever, we'd better pinch ourselves to make sure we're alive. 

An unfinished painting in acrylics done by my mother.
The kitty was named Holly because she was a Christmas present.

I wonder how much anxiety folks of old felt ... in fact, folks clear up to just before the information age maybe. I mean sure, if we're being chased by a bear, we're terrified until said bear lumbers off. But constant anxiety? I think in part it's so bad now because we've been robbed. Well, that's my theory anyway. Robbed by the busyness in this day and age of precious time and quiet to pursue activities that produce tangible results. Results we can look at as often as we like and say to ourselves: "I made this."

A sweetie, even with her unfinished face.

It seems to me we need an outlet that's a good distraction, something totally different from our job, that will "take us away" from our work and daily stress (no, not even Calgon is enough help!). I'm liking the visual arts because then I have something tangible to keep and show for my time. And there are soooo many options. Once we find the one or two or maybe three hands-on activities that are so enjoyable to us we lose track of time and our anxiety, we don't feel so "defined" (or pressured) by our jobs, but defined more so by the wonderful things we enjoy doing and look forward to doing in our free time. (I guess if one is fortunate to find "the one thing," that makes it a passion, and a couple things can become our bliss. I've never been able to whittle it down to one or two things, but I've come to accept that about myself!)

My beautiful mother (and handsome father and younger brother) at my 4th birthday celebration: 1956!

There are always going to be deadlines and stressful days at work, concerns for loved ones, snarled traffic jams, crummy weather, financial and health challenges ....  IMHO, the best tranquilizer is to be crazy-in-love with Jesus (whether one is male or female because it's a pure, chaste, "brotherly" love; also I'm not the least bit against tranquilizers if one needs them and takes them appropriately). But maybe the next best tranquilizer is finding a creative outlet that makes you feel on top of the world! Trying out the possibilities is part of the fun! 

A little woodworking.

Please tell us about your hobby or passion in a comment. 

From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
and the work of their hands brings them reward.
Proverbs 12:14

My love to all, especially my precious family!


  1. Hi Bess,

    Have just finished catching up with your two last posts, where, in between your many thought provoking paragraphs, I was intrigued to see the beautiful painted works by your talented family, and then I remembered how you posted a few of your own lovely watercolours this summer. I also enjoyed seeing these photographs of your family, and you, as a little girl, and happy tot! Beauty AND talent, I see run in the family.

    There's a lot to consider here, regarding anxiety, but I will comment on how it can be calmed by applying oneself to something one is passionate about, as you have mentioned, and many find that working with their hands - creating, repairing, cooking, sewing, etc., has helped them in their struggle.

    Thanks for a very interesting post and have a wonderful week!


    1. Hi Poppy! Thanks for your lovely remarks about my family! Yes, I've come to believe that working with the hands is a balm for the soul. So satisfying. Well, many years ago ... make that many, many years ago ... I tried soap carving and wound up with a pile of soap shavings! That endeavor was very short-lived and not so satisfying. :O) People used to be amazing at it, tho. Be blessed! Bess

  2. Hello Bess...

    In the beginning of my married life, I was quite anxious. My thoughts ruled me and kept me bound and chained to a very unhappy life. We were quite blessed materialistically, but yet, I lived on a state of never enough. Worrying always that I was just not doing a good enough job like the next person....

    Many, many years later, as I settle deeper into this new simple life that Our Lord has provided for my family, I look back and see that my reasons for been anxious were all self made. My insecurities were so many, that I could never find the joy in just living. Now, I focus on the every day that Our Lord shows me daily.

    My circumstances are different than before. My children are older, and my husband is also, but my life is quiet and beautiful :0) I keep myself occupied with sewing, knitting, spinning wool and keeping my cottage calm and peaceful.

    I have stopped worrying because Our Lord has provided everything I need for this day.

    Thank you so much for sharing Bess...

    1. Well, your life now sounds extremely pleasant, Maria! Meaningful "occupation" is so important to one's peace and joy. I don't know if I can say I've stopped worrying completely, but I do pretty well these days, because like you, I know Who to consult. Blessings, Bess

  3. Hello there. I like your blog. I clicked a link from poppy view, I think it was, because I wanted to read about your prayer journals. Author Debbie Macomber has frequently written that she does this too. For 2015 I plan to keep a scripture journal. I think the thoughts and actual writing will be an antidote too stress. My main pastimes that I get lost in are crochet and reading. Certain blogs are soothing or lifting too. One is yesteryear embroideries. A walk around the block when I am at work in the city, beginning to draft an email to a friend, or the ritual of brewing a pot of coffee all take the edge officiated nerves for me. Your family photos are a treasure! Thanks for sharing! Alexine in Maryland

    1. Welcome Alexine! Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I agree that just preparing a cup of tea or coffee is very soothing. I will have to check out the embroidery blog as I like pretty embroidery very much. I hope you'll visit again! Blessings, Bess


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