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Anxiety in America -- Terror's Aftermath

How Bad Is It, When Will It Go Away, and What Can We Do to Cope?

How to Cope? continued...

As President Bush has urged, we all need to continue working, parenting, socializing, playing, and shopping as we normally would.

"Active coping strategies that help us feel control over the possibility of terrorism are often better than trying to distract ourselves," Gibbs says. "Washing your hands after getting the mail may be a 'symptom' of anxiety, but if it makes you feel more in control, it's a positive thing to do. Helping others and listening to their stories is another active and useful coping strategy."

In Schuster's survey, 98% of adults coped with their stress by talking with others, 90% by turning to religion, 60% by participatingin group activities, and 36% by making donations. To ease their children's fears, 84% of parents reported that they had talked to their children about the attacksfor an hour or more, and 34% restricted their children'stelevision viewing.

"A great deal of distress was associated with the experience of being exposed, often repeatedly, to horrific events through graphic images," Kaloupek says. He recommends that both children and adults limit television viewing time regarding the attacks, especially those who are emotionally overwhelmed.

Although we need to keep alert and vigilant to stay out of harm's way, more than ever, fear of terrorism can as crippling as an actual attack. So what else can you do to combat fear?

  • Keep informed about signs and symptoms of anthrax, emergency preparedness, or current events to give yourself a sense of control.
  • Ease your mind through humor, hobbies, and creative pursuits.
  • Take care of yourself and your family with proper diet, sleep, and exercise.
  • Avoid self-medicating with drugs and alcohol; they only aggravate stress in the long run.
  • Boost morale and strengthen family ties with get-togethers and quality time.
  • Give time and resources to your community, religious group, or volunteer organization to renew your faith and hope in the future.

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