Gaye Levy, Contributing Writer
Fear. We all experience it at some time or another. It is that feeling of anxiety we get when the outcome of something threatens our well-being and safety.
In today’s 21st century world, there is a lot of fear. It comes in many guises and is almost palpable:
- Fear of a natural disaster
- Fear of the collapse of our monetary system and the economy
- Fear of anarchy and civil unrest
- Fear of nuclear or chemical contamination
- Fear of unemployment
- Fear of getting old and death
- Fear of a terrorist attack
- Fear of the end of the world or TEOTWAWKI
Yes, these are uncertain times and coping with just one of these fears can be challenging if not debilitating. So how does one cope?
I am not a mental health professional so what I have to offer is not professional advice. Instead, I offer my own 10 commandments for staying sane in a world where there are more questions than answers.
1. Knowledge is king
If something scares you, do your research and learn as much as you can so that you can understand the whys and wherefores. Be curious and embrace your new-found knowledge. Here is an example: I used to have a fear of flying in airplanes. In order to conquer that fear, I studied the aerodynamics of planes so that, in simple terms, I realized that even in turbulent conditions, the aircraft could fly.
2. Appreciate the moment
Many fears are based on things that you have no control over. That is not likely to change unless you are connected in some way to a supreme being. So, instead of fretting about things you cannot control, appreciate and embrace those things you can. Appreciate the moment and your ability to exercise free will. And whatever you do, don’t look back and browbeat yourself over the past. What is done is done. Move on and live in the moment.
3. Live with passion
Even those on a limited budget can find something they love to do whether it is gardening, reading, hiking, watching movies or something else. Whatever your passion, pursue it with gusto and embrace your passion whenever fear strikes you to the bone. Hobbies can be a wonderful panacea for setting fear aside and taking your mind off the woes of the world.
4. Communicate with nature
These are tough times for our planet and yet there is still a wondrous beauty in every sunset, in every lake and stream, and in glorious, snow-capped mountains. Get out there and enjoy the birds singing, the rippling waves, and the smell of fresh air. You will feel a lot better for the experience.
5. Surround yourself with love
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Coping with day-to-day drama is a lot easier if you have someone share your concerns and fears. Everyone needs to be hugged and to give a hug in return. Do not discount the miracle of a light touch when it comes to reducing stress.
6. Get a pet
The great thing about pets, and especially dogs and cats, is that they love you unconditionally. They sense your frustration and your fear and will cuddle up to you at just the right moment. They will lick the tears from your face when you are sad and will provide you with companionship when there is no one around.
7. Count your blessings
When times are bad and you think they are going to get worse, count your blessings. Yes, at the time you may think those blessings are few, but if you can come up with five or six – or heck – even one – wrap yourself it and make that blessing your focus. Take your blessings and use them as a springboard for optimism going forward.
8. Exercise and maintain good health
A strong and healthy body goes a long way toward making you feel positive about life, even in the face of chaos. One of the best ways to maintain good health is to exercise and maintain the proper weight for your height and build. Get yourself a pair of athletic shoes or hiking books and get walking. Overweight? Try the Dukan Diet, the 4-hour body or one of the many other weight loss regimes out there. Your self-image will improve as you get fit and a great self-image will make facing uncertainties a lot easier.
9. Enjoy the journey
The uncertainties we face in the 21st century are truly frightening and in many respects we as individuals feel impotent and powerless to affect change. Instead of succumbing to fear, turn the frightening event or circumstance into an adventure. Become educated (see #1) then figure out a way to do something – anything – to proactively overcome your anxiety. Taking even a modicum of control will alleviate fear. And for heavens sake, as you take control, enjoy the journey!
10. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
You knew this was coming, right?
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Hope is the belief that circumstances in the future will be better. Recognize that there will be times when hope may seem impossible. When that happens, consciously work on your personal mindset for without hope, there will be no future. Even the gloom and doom in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road ended in a message of hope.
The corollary is to be prepared. Put together a 3-day pack with those items you will need if a disaster strikes. Store some extra food and water. Gather all of your important documents and make copies or put them on a flash drive for safekeeping. By being prepared, you take back control over an uncertain future. You will be as ready as humanly possible and if the SHTF, you will be secure in the knowledge that you have done the very best that you can to survive.