Boston marathon attacks: coping with anxiety

Posted at 12:29 PM, Apr 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-18 10:21:53-04

Dr. Lawrence Balter discussed the recent Boston bombing incident.  For many people in New York it brought back memories of the attacks on 9/11.  He said this is natural because new tragedies re-activate feelings that are tied to past losses.  Not all people react similarly, but whether we realize it or not we all experience stress.  It is constantly churning in the background of our minds.  Stress can go unnoticed yet take its toll on our psyches.

Even if you don’t think you are experiencing stress related to the recent act of terrorism, I suggest monitoring yourself for hidden emotions that can raise your stress hormone levels.

Signs of stress:

  • Are you experiencing disturbances in sleep such as waking too early, trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep or have restless sleep?
  • Are you hyper-alert?  Do you jump at every loud noise or unexpected event?
  • Are you retreating from social contacts?  Do you find yourself isolating yourself from friends?

These can be signs of underlying distress that you might not realize.  I recommend strategies to manage your stress levels.

To reduce anxiety and deal with stress: 

  • Positive Self-talk:  Remind yourself of the positive things in your life and put the immediate stressor into proper perspective.
  • Guided imagery:  Think about transporting yourself to another situation that is pleasant and serene; e.g., on a beach, in the woods, hiking, etc.
  • Breathing exercises:  When you concentrate on your inhales and exhales you can temporarily shut out other sources of stress.
  • Meditation:  This requires some instruction and training, but is known to lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Resuming your regular activities not only defeats the goals of terrorists, it also helps us manage ourselves in a more constructive and healthful fashion.