Another blogger here wrote a great piece on reducing your anxiety about the swine flu outbreak. My post is going to be a little different, a little less on the practical side. No global truths or silver bullet theories, just honest human wonderings about worrying and this swine flu thing. I’m about to be the pesky six year old in your family who bombards you with questions at holidays.
1- Is all worry a bad thing? Well, excessive worry is definitely a bad thing. It causes people to build their lifestyle around their anxiety. It causes them to not do things they value because of the potential to make them anxious.
2- But couldn’t worrying be OK in some situations? I mean, a moderate amount of worry can get us off our rear ends and into planning mode or action when needed. For instance, I told my girls to wash their hands more at school for a while. I just told them there’s another germ going around; didn’t mention the worldwide outbreak part.
Getting panicked and taking them out of school would not be reasonable right now, but my worry has prompted me to do at least something by instructing them on their hygiene. If or when the threat gets closer, I imagine my worry and action buttons will buzz louder. To NOT worry, at least a little, might put us in harm’s way at some point.
3 – But don’t some people have a right to worry about the swine flu more than others? People close to those who are infected might certainly have the right, but it ultimately matters how far they take that worry. If it is something that makes them run down, bothers their infected loved one, and keeps them from actually being helpful, then they may have a bigger anxiety problem.
But then again, they are closer to the direct impact and probably have more frightening questions on their mind. They have more plans to make, more direct need for preventing transmission, more reason to be aware of any symptoms, and so on. Maybe, in that situation, some worry is actually a normal and expected state of being.
4 – Do you think the CNN correspondent guy is worried about getting the swine flu? I just came up from the family room where my husband was watching a CNN news brief. They had a guy with a mask standing next to the wing of the hospital in Mexico City where they are treating anyone with symptoms of swine flu. He was mere feet away from potential virus transfer, yet there he was.
He could have quit his reporting job when they asked him to go to the heart of the outbreak. But he went anyway and reported the news to us. Doesn’t mean he isn’t worried – his chances of getting sick are certainly higher as he’s doing his job. Not something a lot of people would do. Makes me wonder how he does it.
5 – How long will the world population worry about the swine flu? Will there be a point when everyone will worry about their neighbor, the school, their office? Or will it fade off soon, and only those who tend really to worry a lot will keep vigil? Yep, this is me worrying. I’m not locking down my house like Ft. Knox, but I’m not brushing off the news reports either. I’m somewhere in the middle – wondering and worrying, but not really, really worrying.
Are you worried about the swine flu? If you are, how are you handling it? Are you close to a more threatened area where it’s affecting your activities and daily lives more? Whatever’s going on for you, feel free to just share here. Maybe a little “coffee shop” chatter here will calm everyone’s nerves.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2009
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Krull, E. (2009). Worrying About The Swine Flu? Some Pesky Questions. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 17, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/04/29/worrying-about-the-swine-flu-some-pesky-questions/