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  • Jesika Pearce

Surviving Existential Dread

Updated: Jan 18

Existential Dread is a profound sense of anxiety or unease about the fundamental questions of human existence. It encompasses feelings of meaninglessness, insignificance, and the awareness of our mortality.


Physically it can manifest in various ways: tightness of the chest, shortness of breath, restlessness, or even moments of panic. Emotionally it can lead to a sense of detachment, depression, or a constant nagging feeling of apprehension about life’s purpose.

 


This dread can significantly impact one’s life, causing a ripple effect that touches various aspects, including mental health, relationships, career choices, and overall well-being. It can create a constant background noise, influencing decision-making, and sometimes leading to avoidance behaviors or seeking distractions as coping mechanisms.

 

While therapy and self-care are valuable, here are some less conventional methods to see your way through Existential Dread.

 

1.     Existential exploration through art and creativity: Engaging in creative pursuits like

painting, writing, or music can help channel these feelings into a tangible form of

expression, providing a sense of catharsis and understanding.

2.     Mindfulness and meditation: These practices encourage observing thoughts and feelings

without judgement, fostering acceptance of existential uncertainties and reducing their

power over our emotions.

3.     Volunteering or contributing to a cause: Shifting focus towards helping others or

contributing to a larger cause can provide a sense of purpose and belonging beyond

personal existential concerns.

4.     Nature and immersion: Spending time in nature and contemplating its vastness and

beauty can instill a sense of perspective, reminding us of the grandeur of existence

beyond our individual experiences.

5.     Philosophical exploration and discussions: Engaging in discussions or reading

philosophical works about existentialism can offer different perspectives and insights

into grappling with life’s big questions.

 

As we navigate our individual paths, it’s crucial to acknowledge and confront existential dread. Seek moments of connection, whether through art, nature, or philosophical introspection. Embrace uncertainty as a part of the human experience, and remember that in facing these fears, there lies the potential for growth and a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

 

-Jesika Pearce, OM



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