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Mental Health Center

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Feeling Jumpy?


Bray and Ross both say that it's important to get past those fears, to get on with your day-to-day activities. After all, terrorists try "to create psychological terror within all of us. They want to induce a state of uncertainty, vulnerability, fear," Ross tells WebMD. "The more we allow ourselves to become psychologically paralyzed, the more we're giving in to what they're trying to do."

Yes, but if we still are feeling afraid, how do we fight it?

Don't think of everything as a potential catastrophe. "Creating scenarios in your mind about what might happen only serves to generate anxiety and is only self-defeating," Bray says.

Do a reality check to challenge your fears, says Ross. "We have to look at the odds of this happening again. Is it possible? Yes. Is it probable? No."

If you're on an airplane and feeling nervous, talk to one of the flight attendants about your nervousness. "Flight attendants are trained to handle that -- they know how to talk to people about their anxieties, about being calm," Bray tells WebMD. "Just getting those fears out in the open often helps people calm down."

Practice deep breathing to feel more relaxed. People who are anxious hold their breath subconsciously, which makes them nervous. Deep breathing is very simple and very helpful, Ross says.

Be aware of suspicious activity, and speak up if you see something that doesn't seem right.

"We need to go about our day-to-day activities -- go on airplanes, go to concerts and museums -- but with an extra eye," Ross tells WebMD. "If you see something you're not comfortable with, don't be afraid to speak up. If you are in a crowded place, note where the exits are. If security clearances don't seem adequate, say something. It's important to realize we do have some control over these situations."

Children need to hear that they're safe, that schools, family, police, and the government are doing everything to make this country safe, says Ross.

Take better care of yourself, too. "When this first happened, people were staying up late, watching the news, not sleeping well, not eating right," she tells WebMD. "But sleeping, eating well, getting exercise, interacting with other people -- that's what helps us cope. I tell people if the news is bothering you, it's OK not to watch it, or at least don't watch it before you go to bed. Read a fun novel instead.

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