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What do you fear? Snakes, spiders, heights, air travel, giving a speech, going out on a first date? Anxiety is our body’s alarm system to help keep us safe from potential danger. But what is perceived to be a threat is different for everyone. For example, some people fear snakes, while others keep them as a pet. COVID-19 has raised anxiety in many of us, and as America reopens and schools gear up for fall, it’s important to remember that just as our fingerprints are unique, our fear, and how we react to that fear, is very unique too. For some, the threat of catching this new virus outweighs all other fears, while for others the threat of being unable to earn a living and support their family rises to the surface. You may have noticed people experiencing anxiety due to many new situations resulting from the pandemic, including difficulties finding food in the grocery stores, social isolation, working from home, figuring how to succeed in school using virtual learning platforms, parents trying to be teachers to their children while keeping up with their own jobs; the list goes on and on.

Fear can feel very overwhelming and sometimes even paralyzing. But when you get specific in identifying your fear, you can start to look at it more logically, which helps you make more rational decisions. As you start engaging in life outside of your home or work once again, take a moment to ask yourself, “What is my primary fear?” Some may answer, “I’m afraid of COVID-19.” But try to get specific. What about COVID-19 are you afraid of? Are you afraid of death? Getting very sick and needing to be hospitalized? Missing work or school if you get sick? Catching the virus and feeling crummy for an uncertain amount of time? The stores running out of food? Your job or career being jeopardized? Your spouse getting sick and losing income? What specific fear rises to the surface for you during this pandemic? If you are married, or in a relationship, what is the primary fear of your significant other? What about your college aged kids, teens, and small children? What do your friends fear? Taking some time to raise your self-awareness and having these conversations with others will help you recognize that what people are perceiving to be a significant threat to their well-being is different for each of us, and we are all struggling in our own unique way.

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