The War On Anxiety

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The war in Iraq might be thousands of miles away but we all know it's causing so much anxiety here on the home front as we worry about our security and that of our troops overseas. CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay shared some advice on The Early Show about how to ease your frazzled nerves.

A lot of people are having trouble sleeping. Some people are even saying their stomachs are bothering them for the first time. When we live in this amount of uncertainty, it's perfectly normal to feel anxious, says Dr. Senay.

People who have a past history of real anxiety and depression may find these times a lot more troubling than people who do not have this past history. They're the people who need to be extra aware of their emotions and their feelings about what is happening in the world.

For those who do suffer, the situation is only made worse by losing sleep and by spending too much time on the Internet or watching television. A lot of people feel very saturated by the images that they see. It takes on an immediacy for those viewers that it doesn't really have in real life, which is happening many thousands of miles away.

Even though those who live in the U.S. can create a secure environment where they are, if they are constantly inundated with these images and are not handling it well, it might be a good idea to take a break from watching the images.

It is also important to make connections and cultivate friendships. It helps to talk about feelings of anxiety. Talking to others gives you a sense of community, says Dr. Senay, and even just making the connection can reduce your stress level, because you get a sense that other people are going through a similar experience.

Another weapon in the battle against anxiety: Exercise. "Get out, get exercise, move," says Dr. Senay. "It's a good thing... It also gives you a chance to get away from this constant influx of information that can be disturbing."

Avoid drugs and alcohol. They might SEEM to help but they really don't, in the long run. For instance, if you are having trouble going to sleep, you might think alcohol will help you. Not so, says Dr. Senay, adding, "It may make you feel drowsy but it will not give you a good night's rest. It disturbs your sleep in the long run."

Another tip: Relax – or, really, refocus. If you have trouble concentrating, if you can't get the images of war out of your mind, Dr. Senay recommends taking a break, reading a book, doing something else!

It also may help you to take precautions. "Make connections with family members and friends about how you'll handle an emergency," Dr. Senay advises. "Get prepared in some way that makes you feel you have control. That can be a positive way to help reduce feelings of anxiety."

Be optimistic. With all that's going on in the world right now, it's very easy to feel pessimistic. But try to avoid those kinds of feelings, and realize this war is temporary. One group of people who seem to be expert at maintaining a positive mental attitude is the military families. And if they can do it, even with a loved one in harm's way, it could inspire others to do it, too.
  • Ellen Crean

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