Monday, September 12, 2011

September 11: 10 Years Later How to Live a Life Free of Fear

Terrorism is a sad fact of life for our generation. It has changed the way we think, the way we perceive our neighbors, how we travel, and how we live our everyday lives. How can you live a life free of fear?

On 9/11, our nation faced a serious and sobering truth: We are vulnerable to violence within our own borders. Terrorism is not just something that we see on the news, occurring in foreign countries. It's important to know that you can take control of your own fear, while remaining cautious and alert.

The best way you can conquer your fear is to arm yourself with knowledge and information. Next, some basic ways to be prepared and be alert will help you feel more secure. Preparing yourself for ANY emergency or disaster will help you feel more in control. And finally, a few simple strategies to help you relax and avoid focusing on fearful thoughts, can help you calm your fears when they arise.

Understand Terrorism and its Psychology

*The goal of terrorism is to create fear and terror in a nation’s population in order to achieve political goals. While we must be alert and aware of our surroundings, we cannot give in to the fear and hide. This will simply reinforce the terrorists goals and they win (and we KNOW that, as Americans, we don't like to lose!)

*It is true that a lot has changed in our country, and the world, following 9/11. Educate yourself about changes in security. Knowing why these changes have been made and how they can help keep us safe is important, so that you don't feel that we are having your rights taken away.

*Above all, it's important to realize that there are people whose job is to keep track of these threats and take action to foil terrorist plots. Indeed, most terrorists plans are foiled by vigilance and good detective work. People like us can help by being aware and reporting things that don't seem "right" to the proper authorities and local police.

Understand the Odds

*While you may be anxious and worry that you will be the victim of a terrorist attack, the actual risk is very small. You are more likely to be injured in a car accident than be the victim of an attack. Your energy should be focused on the present circumstance and safety doing everyday things such as driving and walking down the street.

*Be prepared for ALL emergencies. As we have seen in the last month, you can be exposed to a variety of crises, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding. Being prepared for any of the scenarios is important. Have an emergency plan to communicate with family and friends, stock up on extra food and water, have an ample supply of medicines, etc. This can greatly minimize your anxiety and help you take control.

Understand anxiety and how to decrease it

Here are some commonsense ways to handle anxiety:

*Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to increased anxiety and increased caffeine intake, which can make you feel more anxious and jittery.

*Exercise has been shown to decrease anxiety and life your mood, and improve your overall health.

*Avoid excess sugar and caffeine.

*Take a relaxing warm bath.

*Practice meditation or deep breathing exercises...the body cannot have an anxiety attack if you are breathing deeply.

*Simplify your schedule and prioritize your responsibilities.

*Engage in activities you enjoy, sports, hobbies and spending time with friends and family can increase your positive emotions and decrase anxiety. (Go PHILLIES!)

*Talk to a friend. Talking can be one of the best ways to get "out of your head" and express how you are feeling.

While I can't guarantee that you will always be 100% worry-free, using the strategies I have shared can help decrease your level of anxiety and allow you to live without the deep fear that can accompany events such as 9/11. If you are having a difficult time coping, and don't know where to turn, ASK A PSYCHOLOGIST!


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