Anxious? Who isn’t? Here are few things that might help

Jeff Kreisler

We’re all staring down the unknown the best we can right now, and it’s not easy for anyone. Over at our So, Bob podcast, which generally focuses on the unintended consequences of technology, we’re telling stories about how tech is helping people cope.  We’re all going to have to deal with everything from dramatic fears about our mortality to mundane concerns about cabin fever.

I’d love to hear your stories, so email them, or comment, or call into the voicemail line with them. (We’ll tell you the number on the podcast).

Being of sound mind and body, as much as is possible, is going to be critical during the coming weeks.  For advice on that, I turned to friend and behavioral science guru Jeff Kreisler. He’s also co-author of the book Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter with behavioral science legend Dan Ariely.

Here are his tips on dealing with these anxious times. (Have more? Share ’em). As you read them, think on the difference between hot and cool states.

“Exercise, get sleep, eat healthy. You’re going to want a sharp mind.

“We are all full of stress and uncertainty now. That’s okay. That’s natural. That’s human. We can’t eliminate stress and uncertainty, but we can recognize their impact and try to minimize them.

  • Accept the emotions. Acknowledge ‘em. Admit we’re in a hot state.
  • Try to get to a cooler state to make our decision. Deep breaths. Big picture. 30,000 foot view. Looking back from the future (“what would Jeff in 10 years say?”). Whatever metaphor, tool or method we might have.
    Make the best decision we can with the info we have.
  • This is not specific advice – it would be irresponsible to pretend I have any to offer – but a very simple suggestion for how to handle moments of tough decision.

There’s more to this and people who can speak with much more expertise (I’ve been living amongst the scientists the last few years). I welcome additions and contradictions.

If this helps one person take a deep breath and hoard a little less toilet paper – Seriously? Reverting to potty training to gain control? C’mon – it will be worth it.

I’ve noticed lately that I seem to flow rather normally between hot and cold states. One moment a single cough makes me want to take my temperature, and I’m convinced I’m sick. Then 10 minutes later I’m optimistic about the future and I’m even considering buying stocks. (Well, index funds, probably).  I use a variety of techniques for calming myself out of the hot state. But in truth, I think you just naturally roll in and out of it sometimes.  So I try to keep that in mind, too.

Also, distractions help.  So why not try our podcast?

Stay clean, and safe.


p.s. this doesn’t apply to bear attacks.

About Bob Sullivan 1408 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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