By Kenneth Justice
~ How do you chill out?
Our society is so fast paced it seems like one of the most difficult processes to learn is how to relax.
–> Grocery shopping
For many of us, our days seem to be filled with a never ending calendar of tasks which we never seem to completely accomplish.
Let’s cut to the chase; many people do not know how to chill out….
Our lives are so overbooked that chilling out seems to be a herculean task all in itself.
The stats which tell us how many people are taking prescription medications to deal with anxiety, depression, and an overall discontentment with life are through-the-roof.
Of course, much of psychology tells us that depression, anxiety, and other psycho-social ills are entirely biological….
But that is a prescription I can’t sign my signature upon.
Sure; there is an element of genetics at work in the way we are….that is undeniable.
But to ignore the cultural makeup of our society as being connected to the simple fact that so many of us don’t know how to chill out….is an error of epic proportions.
Travel outside of the United States to more agrarian or communal societies…and suddenly the concepts of depression and anxiety seem to be non-existent.
Sure, people in third-world countries have struggles; nutrition, 21st century medicine, clean drinking water, social injustice, and more are things that other people groups deal with on a daily basis.
But strangely enough, when social-psychologists perform peer-reviewed studies on these (supposedly) backwards nations….the psycho-social things we struggle with in the West are much more difficult to find among these other people groups.
“If psychologists know that it is our way of life in the West that is the root of many of our struggles…why don’t they do something about it?”
That is a question I tried to deal with in both my undergraduate and graduate theses.
What’s a psychologist to do?
It’s not like there is a Harry Potter magic wand that we can wave at our culture and cause everyone to slow down, to be less materialistic and consumeristic; there is no switch to flip that helps chill people out.
Many people believe that doctors are filling out prescriptions for people because it’s easier to hand out drugs than it is to ask people to change their way of life.
So where do we go? If depression and anxiety are steadily on the rise; where will Western Society be 50 years from?
What do we do?
A friend of mine recently complained, “I feel like its pulling teeth to get all my friends together for dinner regularly!” she said.
“When I was a teenager my circle of friends spent so much time together but once we got into our twenties we all seem to be overly obsessed with trivial things…we’re too busy to hang out with each other” she lamented.
Unfortunately, as with many topics in life I have more observations than I have answers….
Perhaps learning how to chill out takes a lifetime…..but if that is true; why are other cultures so good at it??
I think I’ve asked enough questions…it’s on to my next cup of coffee.
Categories: Culture & Society