Dealing With Terrorism Anxiety
When the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security raises or even lowers the threat level
on the advisory system, the nation’s anxiety level follows suit.
As a result,
many Americans are struggling with tough questions about safety issues
and preparedness these days. But there are no easy answers, according
to an expert from the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS).
government alert system represents something that we’re not
familiar with, and when we have something that’s both unfamiliar
and threatening, that’s a good recipe for stress, anxiety,
difficulty sleeping and all that goes along with just being
worried,” said Joseph Himle, Ph.D., associate director of the
anxiety disorders program at the UMHS psychiatry department.
of the sort of stressors we’re accustomed to we have some degree
of control over — we can drive more carefully, we can stay out of
a dark alley, we can stop smoking,” Himle said. “In this
case, it’s harder for us to control the threat we face from
People usually go about their normal routines to help manage everyday stress and anxiety, he added.
and fun, rest and relaxation all help keep our lives in balance,”
Himle explained. “What can happen during times like these is that
we cut back on many of the things we use to balance our lives and help
control the stress. We may spend less time with others, we cut back on
exercise, we don’t do as many things for fun — we cut back
at the very time we need these activities the most.”
to maintaining a healthy balance in your life, use the body’s
natural instincts to notice when things aren’t quite right, he
people who try to keep too high a level of vigilance will find
themselves more fatigued and anxious, and often less able to respond to
a real threat,” said Himle. “[You can] end up more stressed
out than if you just went about your business and trusted your
instincts to tell you when to act.”
But preparation does seem to help ease anxiety, he noted.
ahead and preparing often makes us feel more comfortable about the
risks that we may encounter,” Himle said. “If it’s
done within reason, it probably makes sense for most people to do
something that they feel prepares them for trouble.”
And monitor your stream of information.
“Be informed, but try to avoid information overload,” he cautioned.