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Americans’ danger detectors are cranked up way too high these days, but we don’t have to be held hostage by our anxiety, according to a new book on coping with stress by a Northwestern Medicine psychologist.

The book, by Northwestern’s Mark Reinecke, is titled “Little Ways to Keep Calm and Carry On: Twenty Lessons for Managing Worry, Anxiety and Fear.” He offers an easy to understand strategy, based on recent psychological research and cognitive behavioral therapy, to reduce anxiety and live a happier, less fretful life.

“We live in an age of anxiety, whether it’s economic worries or potential terrorist threats, or how you are going to care for your aging mother,” says Reinecke, head of psychology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “There are a whole range of things that come at us as a society that make us feel more anxious than at any time in our recent history.”

One chapter in his book discusses the realistic assessment of whether a bad thing will happen. “You should prepare for the most likely scenario, not the worst case, because it is statistically very unlikely,” advises Reinecke, also professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Feinberg. “You should ask what is the probability of a bad event happening, how will you cope, are you able to protect yourself?”

He suggests whitewater rafting as a metaphor for effective coping. “When you are thrown from the boat, you cover your head, protect what’s important and go with the flow,” Reinecke says. “You let the current take you to a calm eddy on the side of the river.”

Anxiety is a natural and adaptive emotion from an evolutionary perspective. It protects us from perceived threats, he notes. It leads to neurochemical and cognitive changes, which prepare us for fight or flight.

“The problem occurs when the sensitivity of our perceptual threat detector system gets cranked up too high,” Reinecke says. “We perceive many things as threats that are really not threats at all.” 

Read in Full:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/210185.php



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