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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Low Level Panic

Brushing my teeth this morning I told my flatmate that I was feeling mildly panicked, but that it was Day Four of what we'd named 'Getting A Grip On Life Week' and that it would be fine. From behind the shower curtain she returns that she had a panic when she woke up but that she concurs - it will be fine. Day Four Day Four Day Four!

The particular reason for our panics - our impending homelessness due to renovation work, a scary gap in freelance work, etc - really are irrelevant. It could just as easily be an overdue NI payment, a mounting pile of invoices, an imbalance in family/friends/work time, whatever. The incontrovertible fact is that certainly most 20 somethings - and a great many 30 somethings - have an underlying, low level buzz of anxiety. Sometime it's barely perceptible, at its most dangerous it seems overwhelming. We put huge pressures on ourselves to succeed - artistically, with body image, love, finance, you name it - and the stress we put ourselves under can be highly detrimental. 

It is generally accepted that one in four adults will suffer from mental health issues at some point in their lives, and it is my guess that we will see only this figure increase. The stresses of crowded city life, exorbitant rents, the demands of social media and the fact that industries are more competitive than ever before, all indicate that we may be dealing with the most stressed out generation in living memory. Consider that the majority of us aren't actually involved in intensive physical labour, we don't have the threat of bombs dropping from the sky and overall we're a very privileged country, this situation really needs to be examined. 

As we know, stress is a killer and often has physical manifestations as well as the negative affect on our peace of mind. I'm not suggesting we all ditch the social media - which sadly has become a bit of a necessity for many artists, musicians, actors et al. Nor am I suggesting giving it all up for a life in the country. I think perhaps we need to just reassess our priorities in life. The old work/life chestnut. It's easy enough to write lists and tick off chores, but when we go to bed often the last thoughts whirring around are about tasks for the next day. 

Remember the childhood/ holiday bliss of being able to just take time out and lie in the sun? Not panicking quietly because you're suppose to be working, or you really should be reading that book, you haven't watched that film yet. There is a time and a place for most things in life, and the one guarantee we have is that everything will change. Therefore if you aren't where you want to be - don't worry. If you are, enjoy it. It will change, but often you will end up in a place you didn't even realise you wanted to be. Deep breaths and enjoy the ride.