A Grief Expert’s Take On Pandemic Anxiety

Heat is killing more people than ever. Scientists are looking for ways to lower the risk. Image: U.S. Forest Service firefighters walk near flames at the Williams fire in the Angeles National Forest on September 4, 2012 north of Glendora, California. The fire began late September 2, putting an early end to Labor Day weekend camping and hiking for vacationers, who were evacuated from the area as it spread to more than 4,000 acres in size. Officials project that it will take at least another week to establish a containment line around the fire which is burning in rugged and difficult to reach backcountry. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) Full story: Heat is killing more people than ever. Scientists are looking for ways to lower the risk | Science | AAAS (sciencemag.org)

A Grief Expert’s Take On Pandemic Anxiety

It’s no surprise that everyone feels more anxious this year, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and the election. But luckily, there are simple ways to keep it from spiraling out of control, says Claire Bidwell Smith, a grief therapist and the author of Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief (Buy It, $15, bookshop.org). Here’s how to take charge.

First, What Is Anxiety, Exactly?

“It’s the fear of something real or imagined. When we become anxious, our fight-or-flight response kicks in and our adrenaline pumps, our heart starts to beat faster, and our stomach muscles constrict. Anxiety is manifested in two ways. There are the physical symptoms, which can confuse people and make them think something is wrong with them. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who ended up in the emergency room thinking they were having a heart attack. A feeling of light-headedness, tingling, or nausea is also common. And you can feel anxiety in the pit of your stomach — it’s dread, like something bad is going to happen.

The second way is the emotional side of it — the incessant thoughts we can get trapped in when we’re anxious. An example is the kind of catastrophic thinking that makes us leap to the worst-case scenario…

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Many of today’s leaders understand that improving their employees’ mental health is good both for their people’s well-being and their business. Unfortunately, while they get the importance of mental health right, all too often they get the definition of mental health wrong.

Traditionally, mental health has been defined by what it’s not. If you’re not mentally ill, you must be mentally healthy. But mental health means much more than living without pain or disability. It is also about building strength and improving your well-being…

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