By: Allison Petro

Anxiety is experiencing feelings of worry or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. Everywhere I turn, I feel that people are talking about anxiety.

Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed by life, relationships, school, your job, or your children. Or maybe your child is experiencing nervousness on a regular basis, and you feel at a loss as to how to help.

As a psychotherapist, I believe that anxiety is on the rise in the United States.  Some folks would argue that  society is just more aware of anxious feelings and more willing to talk about them versus actually increasing. I believe all of the above is true.

Here are 4 reasons why anxiety is on the rise:

#1 Modern technology (including social media)

We are no doubt connected to our smart devices 24/7. I believe modern technology in a variety of different forms feeds our anxious thoughts and feelings. We are always connected, constantly multi-tasking and continuously receiving news alerts that cause alarm.

Social media is its own modern technological animal. Social media breeds comparison, and comparison is the enemy of satisfaction.

While checking your Facebook updates or Instagram feed (for the ninth time today), you probably find yourself wishing for the lavish vacation Joe from your old job just took with his beautiful wife and 3 adorable kids. Or, you are feeling sad and inadequate because you weren’t asked out by your crush just like Emily was from your home room.

We all know that the majority of people on social media only post the highlights. Yet, we find ourselves scrolling mindlessly multiple times a day and often feeling worse about ourselves because we aren’t living up.

Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for modern technology much of the time, but I do believe we need to limit how much time we spend in front of our devices so that we can live life more freely.

#2 Lack of exercise

I speak to many individuals who do not make time to exercise on a regular basis. People get very creative with their excuses as to why they don’t work-out!

Exercise is good for the mind, body and soul. Once again, this is something with which everyone can agree, but few people seem to follow through with exercising regularly.

One mantra I use personally and encourage my clients to use is to “begin with the end in mind.”This comes from Stephen Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Ask yourself, how do you feel at the end of a workout or long walk? My guess is you feel great! You are glad you made the effort, and you feel energized! Begin exercising while bearing these thoughts in mind.

I promise it will be motivating. Build exercise into your schedule. Go on your lunchbreak. Take a friend. Use a mantra. Exercise decreases anxiety so get out there and do something active.

#3 Lack of community and social support

As a society, we are becoming more and more isolated.  We have food delivered to our homes instead of going out; we opt to watch movies on our big screen TV’s versus the local movie theatre; we work from home alone; we don’t know our neighbors.

Many of us do not have a community to call home and lack social support when we need it most. As isolation and loneliness increase so does anxiety.

I encourage you to find a community to join such as a local church, club or get more involved at your child’s school.  It takes more effort these days to get to know the people around you, but it is well worth it.

#4 Increased rumination

As a human race, we have become more inward focused than outward because food and water are so plentiful.  Our ancestors had to hunt and gather for their food. There was no time to obssess about things outside of their control. There was too much pressure to survive.

As humans, we have become more mentally sensitive therefore more anxious and depressed because life in many ways has become “easier.”

This may sound counterintuitive but think about it.  It is important to practice anti-rumination strategies such as using distraction and positive self-talk to overcome the temptation to ruminate and dwell on the negative.

If you find that you are experiencing high levels of anxiety on a regular basis, it’s time to take action and seek help.  Give Allison a call at Life Counseling Solutions at 407-622-1770 to schedule an appointment.  She also offers 15 minute free phone consultations to answer any questions you may have about the psychotherapy process.

Allison Petro is Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in couples, women’s issues, treating depression holistically, and children. For more information about the author visit her full bio here.