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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
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Dealing With Anxiety

October 2014

Ebola!! What happened to you as you read that word? It is quite likely that your anxiety ratcheted up a bit. Our news and social media are very good at tapping into our anxieties and making us very fearful. There is an evolutionary reason that we have fears. As we were traipsing through the wilds, if did not have fears we might have blithely stepped on snakes, eaten poisons or walked right into a saber tooth cat’s cave. Anxiety is there to keep us safe from a sometimes scary world.

However, the key word there is sometimes. The world is not nearly as scary as the news, social media or even our anxieties suggest. As an example, let’s go back to Ebola. If you have not been in East Africa and exposed to the disease by touching bodily fluids, you have no risk of having the disease. But that does not stop us from seeing it everywhere. There have been no cases in Southern California. You will not just wake up with it. And, by the way, have you noticed what the success rate of cure in the United States is? Extraordinarily high! Ebola is really not something that we need to be anxious about.

So here is your challenge. Any time you get anxious, challenge yourself to see if there is any reality to your fear or perhaps just a slight amount. Is your fearful reaction a reasonable response to what is happening? Or is it an overreaction? Is your adrenaline pumping so much that you cannot think straight? Take a deep breath and another. Slow down. Look to see what would be a healthy reaction to what is happening. Going back to our Ebola example: an overreaction is locking yourself in your house and refusing to have contact with any other human. A more appropriate reaction would be to educate yourself from reputable sources and wash your hands often.

Do this with each of your anxieties. You may find that you are able to relax a little more and, perhaps, even enjoy your life!

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