The Cost of Anxiety in Our Lives

In today’s fast-paced world, anxiety has become a familiar companion in our daily lives. I like how Kara Loewentheil, in her newsletter for example, sheds light on the unique pressures faced by women and those socialized as women. The societal expectation to be more, do more, and achieve perfection in every aspect of life has led to an alarming rise in stress and anxiety. This constant hustle for worthiness is not just unsustainable but also detrimental to our well-being.

The Pressure to Perform: A Gendered Burden

Loewentheil highlights the relentless pressure women face to excel in every (!) role – as professionals, mothers, partners, and even in their self-care routines. The pursuit of being the most productive, caring, and fit, all while maintaining an effortless demeanor, is a herculean task that leaves little room for genuine rest and relaxation.

Restlessness: The Anxiety of Downtime

Have you ever found yourself unable to relax even when you finally take a moment for yourself? Loewentheil points out the paradox many women face – the societal conditioning that makes relaxation feel like a failure. The inability to truly rest stems from a constant barrage of thoughts about what we should be doing instead (notably for others…), leading to a cycle of anxiety and self-criticism.

The Root Cause: Challenging Internalized Beliefs

The solution to this pervasive anxiety cannot be found in superficial self-care fixes but in addressing the root cause – our thoughts. Loewentheil emphasizes that the key to overcoming this anxiety lies within our own minds. It’s about understanding that our worth isn’t tied to our productivity or societal expectations but is inherent to our being.

Practical Advice to Overcome Anxiety

Understanding and managing anxiety begins with recognizing its presence and accepting it without judgment. Life Coach School’s podcast episode 14 on “Overcoming Anxiety,” offers a profound perspective on how to approach anxiety when it arises. Here are some practical steps:

  1. Acknowledge and Observe: Instead of resisting or ignoring anxiety, acknowledge its presence. Say to yourself, “Oh hello there, anxiety. I see you.” Observing anxiety without trying to immediately change it can be a powerful first step.
  2. Breathe Deeply: Focus on your breathing, especially exhaling. Exhaling deeply can help you realize that anxiety is just a vibration caused by your thoughts and that it’s not as threatening as it seems.
  3. Scheduled Worry Time: Set aside a few minutes a day to worry intentionally. This may sound counterintuitive, but trying to increase your anxiety during this time can actually show you that you are in control of it. Once you realize you can increase it, you also learn that you can decrease it.

Harnessing Anxiety as a “Superpower”

Anxiety can be viewed not just as a challenge to overcome but also as an indicator, a superpower that signals something deeper within us. Here’s how you can harness this perspective:

  1. Anxiety as an Indicator: Use anxiety as a signal to look closer at what’s going on beneath the surface. It’s a cue that there might be underlying issues or thoughts worth exploring.
  2. Responsibility, Not Blame: While it’s essential to take responsibility for our anxiety, it’s not about blaming ourselves. Understanding where the responsibility lies allows us to reclaim power over our emotional state.
  3. Acceptance and Awareness: Treat anxiety like an ‘ugly suitcase’ that you can identify, acknowledge, and carry with you for a while. This metaphor helps you see anxiety as something external, a choice rather than an inherent part of you. By welcoming anxiety, you shift from practicing anxiety to practicing awareness, allowing you to address it more constructively.

Coaching as a Catalyst for Change

Coaching offers a transformative path to rewire our thought patterns and redefine our relationship with rest and relaxation. By recognizing that we deserve rest simply because we are human, coaching helps us navigate the anxiety of downtime, empowering us to embrace genuine relaxation without guilt or self-criticism.

Embracing Rest, Redefining Worth

In a world that constantly pushes us to do more, understanding and managing our anxiety is vital for our mental and emotional well-being. As we navigate these challenges, coaching can provide guidance and help us to dismantle the internalized beliefs that fuel our anxiety.

If you’re ready to break free from the cycle of anxiety and reclaim your sense of worth and peace, reach out. Together, we can explore how coaching can support you in taming the perfectionism and anxiety that hold you back.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Sophie


Inspired by:

  1. Kara Loewentheil’s School of New Feminist Thought:
  2. Life Coach School. (2014). Overcoming Anxiety [Audio podcast episode]. In The Life Coach School Podcast.
  3. Life Coach School. (2015). Interview with Kelly McCormick [Audio podcast episode]. In The Life Coach School Podcast.