It’s not a figment of your imagination. Anxiety disorders have rapidly become the number one most common mental illness in the United States. Over 40 million Americans, or 18 percent of the population, are estimated to deal with anxiety problems. That number continues to climb whenever considering those who do not step forward or seek help for these issues.
Fortunately anxiety is highly treatable through a myriad of healthy outlets including exercising, reading, writing, medicating, going to therapy, or simply decompressing from social media. Unfortunately, it often goes untreated. Why? Although it is such a common and rapidly growing illness in our society, a powerful (if, thankfully, lessening) stigma remains present. That stigma, along with irrational thoughts, often exacerbate problems of self-isolation. It happens with even the most seemingly-extroverted people in your office or on your timeline.
I’m personally a firm believer that we are the makers of our own destinies. Once you’ve recognized a problem you personally experience, make a (flexible!) plan of action and take the necessary steps to make a change.
I know it’s hard. I know it can take a lot of your expendable energy. I know it won’t happen all at once, but that’s OK. Consider easing yourself into some healthy anxiety releases with the following books and poems:
1. Untitled – Rudy Francisco
today, i’m a courageous windshield taunting all of the rocks.
my parents are both stained glass. which is to say, i come from a long line of windows
which is to say, i won’t break easily so do your worst.
i speak many languages,
but shatter is not one of them.
– rudy francisco
You’ve most likely seen Francisco’s work on Instagram. The perfect length for a quick uplift in an aesthetically-pleasing layout — it doesn’t get easier than that. Take a lot at his Instagram and hashtag for more of whatever you seek.
The title says it all. Ruth Whippman, British journalist turned U.S. citizen, ruminates on the American epidemic of anxiety and the problems that propagate it. Whippman pulls it off with her own wry, offbeat sense of humor typical of your average Brit, if that’s your cuppa tea. This is a great book to jump into if you crave a more no-nonsense, nonfiction, scientific approach to the issue.
3. Meditation – Nayyirah Waheed
“’I love myself.’
– nayyirah waheed
Nayyirah Waheed easily writes some of my favorite modern poetry of the moment. I turn to her work whenever I need bite-sized inspiration or simply some idea to chew on. Her diverse body of work, typically covering “the essence of the human heart, of womanhood, of the experience of being a woman of color living in a centuries-old diaspora.” She doesn’t have too many pieces covering anxiety, specifically; however, the ones that do tend to calm even the most stubborn of nerves. Dive into her meditation piece for starters.
4. Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling
Kaling is a voice of our generation. Her second book of essays Why Not Me?, a follow up to 2012’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), takes a refreshing, introspective look through her life that you need in your life. Plus, she shares sage bits of wisdom that’ll help with any professional anxieties you may hold: “Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled.” Go get it, BAMFs.
5. What’s the greatest thing a woman can learn? – Rupi Kaur
“What’s the greatest thing a woman can learn?
that since day one. she’s already had everything she needs within herself.
it’s the world that convinced her she did not.”
– rupi kaur
Rupi Kaur is another great modern poet that never fails to provide a suckerpunch straight to the feels. Kaur’s poems also often act as a great reminder of your own personal badass-ery. This poem is no exception.
6. Prozac Nation – Elizabeth Wurtzel
Prozac Nation. A classic. Released in 1994, this one is probably on your parents’ or older sibling’s shelves. Prozac Nation follows the life of the author grappling with her own depression and anxiety throughout college and her career as a writer. Go thrifting or shelf-hunting and give it a read.
Featured image courtesy of Mindful.org.