I have more to be anxious about than ever: I can't return to Ukraine anytime soon, I'm worried for family and friends still in Kyiv, and we're learning how to restart our lives with nothing but one frantically-packed suitcase to our name.

So why do I feel like my anxiety is more manageable now than any time in the past few years?

Anxiety, like any kind of stress, is only considered problematic when it doesn't have a clear trigger. I can handle being anxious about an upcoming meeting; what's harder to deal with is the anxiety that crops up with no discernible cause. Life is objectively hard right now, but my stress is no longer an ethereal, directionless frustration. It has a cause, and a solution that I can work towards.

Obviously this isn't to say that anyone with anxiety/depression/stress should just find a "real" problem to fixate on. Those mental struggles are real, even if there's no "reasonable", tangible trigger to blame. And it's not about dimming daily troubles in the light of global catastrophes, either. Even if someone is suffering more than you, you're still suffering, and little problems don't disappear when big problems arise (see this post).

When the dust settles, I'm sure that directionless anxiety will return now and again, and I doubt remembering the "really hard times" will help. But right now, I'm grateful for the tangible issues: checking apartment listings online, battling a spotty internet connection, finding an affordable way to do laundry from our Turkish hotel. Of course I wish things were easier, but those feelings of moving forward are keeping me going. They keep me from feeling helpless.

No conclusion to this post, sorry. Just a small reflection on the strange ways our brains cope with the world.

Thanks for subscribing