It seems like every time we turn on the news lately, we hear reports about terrorists and attacks by suicide/homicide bombers. News stories about kidnappings, beheadings, and raids by Islamic terrorism groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram are a “normal” part of the daily news now. And, even though the vast majority of these attacks take place in cities and countries on the other side of the world from us, the constant bombardment of these threatening stories can begin to make anyone feel helpless and can instill worry, stress, and fear in them. This is especially true for people who already suffer from anxiety and anxiety-related syndromes, such as generalized anxiety disorder.
Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
Even though personally experiencing an ISIS terrorist attack is unlikely, sometimes fear and anxiety over a potential threat can take on a life of its own. When you are anxious in general, you may begin having headaches, stomach problems, trouble sleeping or eating, or can even have a panic attack. And, if you have generalized anxiety disorder, your worries and fears become overwhelming. What was “normal” anxiety crosses over the line to the point that you worry:
- About the worst-case scenario in most situations
- Almost daily for six months or more
- Uncontrollably, or your fears significantly disrupt your work or social life, or your daily activities
Some of the physical symptoms of anxiety can include:
- Persistent worrying or obsessing about your concerns
- Feeling like you are always “on edge” or keyed up, being easily startled
- Trouble concentrating, feeling irritable
- Fearing rejection or worrying that you are losing control
Some of the psychological symptoms of anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder can include:
- Difficulty sleeping and its accompanying fatigue
- Nausea, sweating, muscle tension
- Shortness of breath and/or rapid heartbeat
What Can You Do To Help Calm Your Terror-Related Anxiety?
While it’s understandable to worry about terror threats, keeping the following in mind can help you calm your fears and lower your anxiety levels:
- Try to detach – obsessing and worrying about ISIS and other militant groups will not solve the problem and will only serve to make you more anxious and upset. Remember that your upset is only yours – fixating on a possible attack will not change the outcome or stop a terrorist act. Try to focus on something else – a hobby, exercise, your loved ones – so you aren’t constantly preoccupied with the news.
- Take care of yourself: eat nutritiously, exercise regularly to help relieve stress, and try to get enough sleep. Meditation can help to calm your mind, as can yoga or something as simple as deep, rhythmic breathing.
- Turn off the TV, stop checking newsfeeds and Twitter and make the decision to limit your exposure to distressing news. Fear is addictive and constantly watching world events will keep your mind focused on the negative.
- Remember that news organizations thrive when people are watching and paying attention to what they are saying. In spite of everything, we actually live in a safer world than ever before. It is also one that is healthier and richer than in the past, and one in which people are living longer than ever before.
- Maintain your normal routine and continue to do the things you enjoy so that you feel more in control of the world around you.
Keep in mind that fear pulls the enjoyment out of everything. Living in fear keeps you from taking pleasure in your life and it won’t change what happens in the world – either in another country or right down the street. Only you can choose whether you will focus on the negative or whether you will embrace the happiness that is all around you. Be kind to yourself and don’t allow yourself to get wrapped up in negative news stories and worries about terrorist threats.
If, however, you use these ideas and are still finding yourself stressed and troubled about terrorist threats, it might be time to speak with a professional to discuss more specific steps. To get more information and help for worry about terror threats and your anxiety or about generalized anxiety disorder, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.