Simply recognizing where our fears come from can encourage us to be more careful about how we respond to them. Although the brain can't be rewired, we can choose to redirect our energy and attention, focusing on the things that are most likely to matter.
Instead of driving an alternate route to avoid a potential crane accident, we can reduce the risk of a car accident by staying off our cellphones when we're behind the wheel. Rather than eliminating meat from our diet to prevent mad cow disease, we can reduce our risk of heart disease and cancer by eating less red meat and more fruits and vegetables.
Ulene is a board-certified specialist in preventive medicine practicing in Los Angeles.
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Fears influenced by headlines
The media clearly influence people's fears. We live in a 24/7 information bath, and much of what we see and hear focuses on dramatic -- and unusual -- events that grab our attention and scare us. Unfortunately, many of the things that are most likely to harm us go uncovered in the news. Plane crashes make headlines, whereas car accidents rarely get reported; reported shark attacks are major news stories, but drownings go largely ignored; terrorist threats are front page news while acts of domestic violence aren't even covered.