Anxiety is a tough problem, because it’s a spectrum and though so many people identify with it, what might resonate with one person may not work for another. In light of this, I’m sharing four of my favorite TED Talks on anxiety that illuminate various issues we might encounter, and some methods that can help us.
“There’s something very freeing about finding out that you have a mental health issue. Oh, there’s nothing wrong with me! There’s just something wrong with me. Maybe I can do something about that.” — Jordan Raskopoulos
I’m trying to embrace life for what it is, and myself for who I am. I’m doing a much better job of that these days, but the journey has surely been laced with struggle.
Softening my idea of how things “should” be, and releasing my need for control and total knowledge, I’m happy to write that I’m in the journey and I’m committed to what it takes to enjoy life. Talking about it, writing about it, and reading about it helps.
I know that the “kind” of anxiety that I experience isn’t as crippling as what some go through. Though I can’t comfortably identify with any labels, I most resonate with what I guess can be referred to as “high functioning anxiety.” I like to think of anxiety as something that passes through me, overstaying its welcome at times, but it’s not me.The most liberating belief I can think of is that I'm not restricted to any one belief. Click To Tweet
We don’t like the feeling of not being in control, that’s for sure. For some, our default setting is worry, and that can lead to a whole host of internally anxious experiences. Luckily, lots of people are open and honest about their difficult experiences, and they help us all make the journey easier, together.
Wherever you find yourself and whatever you identify with, I hope these TED Talks on anxiety encourage you to let this moment be enough, and to let yourself be enough. Perhaps one will inspire you to make your world bigger, to witness a belief without becoming it, and to live in the present moment for just a little bit longer.
4 Helpful TED Talks on Anxiety
You are your greatest ally, with Jessica Amos
I chose this short video to start off with because it’s just a brief visit back into your body, a remembrance that this moment is indeed enough and you can always return here.
Jessica’s definition of anxiety is “uneasiness or tension caused by apprehension of possible future misfortune or danger.” Possible, meaning not even real right now—maybe not ever. That’s a sign that this uneasiness is based on what’s not necessarily true, which I think we inherently know, but it’s also hard to feel that when in a state of such tension.
I really enjoyed her simple, calming visualization technique. It’s something we can come back to if we’ve lost ourselves in worry, expectations, and total overwhelm. Her overall message: Be on your own side.
A new plan for anxious feelings: escape the custard! with Neil Hughes
When Neil began explaining what he meant by “walking on custard,” I was struck by how spot on this metaphor was for me. Many others agree that anxiety, and other states such as depression, can feel like we’re trudging through life, exhausted, searching for some solid ground to stand on.
As he says in the video, “It’s exhausting being anxious. It sucks up all our energy and leaves very little energy to deal with the root of the problem.”Being keenly aware of anxiety triggers helps us choose another path before we're lost in it. Click To Tweet
Having dealt with anxiety for most of his life, Neil explains how we get “trapped” in both temporary pools and vast seas of anxiety—he calls these “custard traps”—and how we can break the cycle without resisting.
His talk is delightful and insightful, and leaves listeners with some mind-management techniques to help us spend more time at peace.
Living with high functioning anxiety, with Jordan Raskopoulos
This talk, to my surprise, brought tears to my eyes because the way Jordan describes her personal experience of anxiety hit me right in the heart: I get it.
Since my brother passed away, I’ve struggled with social events like I never had before. Even when I’m not working, my brain is on the clock. Talking on the phone (never mind talking in general) can be downright terrifying or exhausting, or both. There are times when I feel “normal” again: who I was before tragedy, and who I can be even with it. It depends on the day.
Jordan covers all of these things in her smart and funny talk.
Here’s a bit of what she has to say about high functioning anxiety:
We have such a heightened sense of worry and such a fear of failure that we are often high achieving, and perfectionists. The problem is that our level of worry is so high that even simple tasks require a huge amount of mental energy and completing multiple tasks at the same time is very difficult, which is why situations where there’s a lot of stimulation, like a party, can overwhelm us and make us shut down.
All it takes is 10 mindful minutes, with Andy Puddicombe
Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of the guided-meditation website and app Headspace, starts this video out by asking: “When did you last take any time to do nothing—just 10 minutes, undisturbed?”
From monk to entrepreneur, Andy has found that a greater appreciation for being in the “here and now” can help us cope if we’re willing to show up and actually be here, now—not once in a while, but every day.
“I think the present moment is so underrated—sounds so ordinary,” he says, “and yet we spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary.”The present moment might be the most underrated teacher and healer of all time. Click To Tweet
Our minds are lost in thought just about 47% of the time (wow!) and mind-wandering happens to be directly correlated with unhappiness. “We’re not here for that long anyway, but to spend almost half of our life lost in thought, and potentially quite unhappy…” Andy continues, “… seems kind of tragic, especially when there’s something we can do about it.”
It might just take 10 mindful minutes a day to be happier and less distracted, and we don’t have to sit on a meditation pillow to feel the benefits.
Please share your thoughts on any of these TED Talks on anxiety, what insights resonate with you, what “tools” work for you, and any helpful or hopeful stories with me in the comments.
Let someone know that they’re understood, and that their journey matters; share these TED Talks on anxiety with a friend.
Familiarize yourself with the present moment: Let it be enough. Familiarize yourself with yourself, and let yourself be enough. Keep talking about it, writing about it, and reading about it.