Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tools and Techniques for #Mental Health: Manage #Worry and #Anxiety about Terrorism

The upsurge of global terrorism, underscored most recently by the horrific acts of terror in France and then here in San Bernadino just last week, not only evokes our sadness and compassion, but also our fears and anxieties.  Unending and alarming news coverage about these events reminds us again and again that the world we live in can be a scary and dangerous place.  Terrorism, and our relentless absorption in its aftermath, worsen anxiety.

No doubt many are feeling vulnerable and anxious right now. We naturally become aroused and wary when we sense danger.  Feeling anxious in times like these is certainly understandable.  However, we do not want to stay stuck there.  Anxiety is a mobilizing state of alarm, it is not a state to stay in. 

Uncertainty fuels anxiety and, there are many things about our physical world that are uncertain: bounty, scarcity, health, illness, political stability, life, death, to name a few.  As much as we might wish otherwise, we have limited control over many of life's vagaries.  While we seek to make tomorrow a safe and better place, we  live and move forward in a world that presents us with uncertainty about health, financial security, droughts, hurricanes, and now, terrorism. 

The key point for you is this:  At best, you have limited control over the uncertainty in the world around you.  However, and importantly, you absolutely can control your uncertain thinking about it.  When you dwell on risk and uncertainty, you cause anxiety.  When you halt this worrisome, "what if" thinking, you stop it.

To get an even better grip on terrorism anxiety, remind yourself that your chances of actually being the victim of a terrorist attack are extremely low, less than your chances of being struck by lightning.  Aimless worry over terror is useless.  Take reasonable precautions, but also take charge over the real culprit behind worry and anxiety:  eliminate counterproductive, "what-if," thinking about life's uncertainties.

With my new CBT self-help guide, Think Right, Feel Right, you can develop these and other emotional tools my clients acquire to optimize emotional health and happiness.

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