Harbinger Banner

Well being - help with keeping your mind healthy

Dr Brenda Dawes-Burritt (Psychologist)

1 July

There are snakes around (apparently - I've not seen one, have you?) and everyone is scared. So I thought I would say something about fear and what it does for us.

Fear is actually a good thing. Like pain. It is nature telling us to be careful (or in the case of pain - that we are in danger of being damaged - or have been). If you are worried about the snakes it is because you are identifying a risk. You can then take precautions like wearing thick boots all the time if you like.

As far as I can work out, there is not much evolutionary difference between the purposes of fear and worrying. Both seem to have developed to override other issues and make us prioritise protecting ourselves. However, pyschologically they are quite different.

Worry is just a background thing. It is often chronic (meaning it goes on for a long time). People worry a different amount and if you are a worrier there is probably nothing you can do about it. You will just take the most worrying thing on your list and worry about that regardless of whether it is objectively a real risk or not. The only way to stop worrying about something unimportant is to worry about something else instead.

Fear on the other hand is quite acute (meaning it has a big effect). It can be debilitating and can get your heart beating and your senses heightened. But we cannot sustain that kind of response for very long. Generally it is just your body preparing to run away or fight. It is not a bad thing to get your heart racing occasionally.

Don't be scared of a little fear. Be scared of snakes if you like and go watch a scary movie if you have a man with you to cling to (if not it can be a bit uncomfortable in the dark). But try to tone down the worrying if you can.

Articles from other months are linked from the side bar.

Please address all communications for the attention of The Editor, The Mews Office, Market street.

We have a box at the post office for ideas and notes.