Approaching anxiety and isolation with mindfulness
Anxiety and isolation aren’t just issues that rat-race crazed urbanites are trying to get a handle on. Yesterday, I read an article in the local paper, the Calgary Herald, about farmers struggling with mental health. (Here’s the link in case you want to check it out: https://www.pressreader.com/canada/calgary-herald/20170127/282071981621297).
How often do you think or hear any of the following in discussions:
- If only we could go back to the way it used to be?
- If only we could live off the land again, we wouldn’t feel that modern sense of isolation within the crowd.
- If only we could simplify things, we’d feel better.
- If only we didn’t have to work for money, we’d know a great sense of purpose.
- If only we could get out of the city more, we’d feel more peaceful and connected to something greater than ourselves?
Well, this recent article shows the grass ain’t any greener out of the city and on the land. A 2016 University of Guelph survey of 1000 farmers showed 45% experiencing high levels of stress, 35% suffering from depression, and 58% dealing with anxiety. Sounds pretty normal for when one hail storm could wipe out a year’s income!
For city slickers like me to romanticize living off the land shows just how disconnected we are from generating our own food and power sources! My grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even my parents who just turned 65 were subsistence farmers in southern Italy, and just getting enough to eat was a constant struggle after the second world war. That’s why so many towns in the south of Italy were emptied out, as the denizens fled to the cities of North America in search of a better way of life!
So, farmers are stressed, anxious in rural isolation. City dwellers are stressed and anxious, even with desk or trades jobs. The root cause is not about our location, obviously, but about the burdens we handle. And yet, life is intense; no life is burden-free. It might have seemed so when we were kids, and we long for these times of less responsibility, but being an adult means we are surfing the tsunami life offers, from start to finish.
Truly the only recourse we have is a mindfulness about our thoughts and actions. How can we mind the gap, so as to introduce a mindful response to our emotions of anxiety and sense of isolation? This is the power of the breath. Our very own super-power, as I tell my children students. Mindfulness begins with the intention, then we follow up that intention with one breath. And another. And a third. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It doesn’t fix the external problem. But it does help us no longer be tossed about by our strong emotions.
For more information about how Rosanna can bring mindfulness training to your organization, please write Rosanna @ CalgaryMindfulness .ca.