The cartoon offers one possibility. Stop being informed. I don't recommend total isolation but rather just stay off the cable or TV news where hysteria seems more catching. If you read the newspapers, you get the gist of what's going on but without all the extras. Just the facts, ma'am, is a good approach right now.
With so many things to fear, those who love to live with drama, have their choice. Global warming, terrorism, Ebola, right wing, left wing, random violence, targeted violence, cancer, heart disease, and the list goes on. You can change the words, but we constantly see the same terrors suggested.
Where it comes to the newest, Ebola, how fearful should we be? It is not to say that humankind has not endured plagues that nearly wiped us out. The Black Death, a European pandemic at its worst in 1346-53, killed an estimated 75 to 200 million people.
Cholera became a dread scourge at various times especially with the pioneers heading west in the United States. With no clue what caused these diseases, there were no cures or treatments and like smallpox, a lot died.
When my mother was a girl, in 1918, a flu pandemic killed as many as 50 million worldwide. It was one that hit my family when my grandmother's beloved brother died from it (he was at the age that was most deadly). My mother and her two sisters got dreadfully ill also but all survived. Pandemics were to be feared, and then came polio which left many parents in terror each summer. My husband's aunt had that, recovered but had a limp for the rest of her life.
So now new dread diseases come along and we don't know what to think. Will a shot be developed to prevent it? Likely it will but when? Antibiotics don't do anything for Ebola, but there may be an answer from science. In the meantime, we can be cautious, not think about it, or let ourselves be terrorized.
The thing is fear isn't of something real at the time it's felt. It is a possibility. It is is False Expectations Appearing Real. Except they might become real and that's what worries us. Often, by the time someone is my age, it's not so much for us but for our offspring, their offspring and young ones anywhere.
Some turn to religion as a way to find peace when the world has so many possible dangers. The problem with religion for me is using logic because it is faith based. Time and again we hear of a tornado where some claim they were saved by God and prayer-- but others died. The ones who claim religion as an answer will say-- that then was God's will-- which pretty well means they are getting no real benefit in terms of insurance policies.
Others count on guns right up until the problem is a neighbor who gets deathly ill, who you were with and find out their illness was easily caught. It's not like a gun can fight a disease or really even random violence. Let's face it, if a bad guy is out to get you, you only know it when he attacks first. If it's a bomb, you never know it.
I try to be especially effective in not letting fear run my life because when I write books, like the one I am writing now, I get inside my hero and heroine to feel what they feel and in a story like this fourth Oregon historical, they are both doing something very dangerous. She is a Pinkerton and he's a cavalry officer. Both are warriors (she is my first warrior heroine). So to write who my characters are, I take on their fear or imagine the risk they face. It is what writing any kind of fiction is all about. So I get stressed with something that is not mine. I have to be afraid when they are to get the words right, but I cannot forget from where that emotion came and take it with me when I leave the story. Then I'd have an unfounded fear to carry around and it'd be a burden I don't need.
It is one of those things you do if you write fiction-- take on real emotions but they are not yours. I then even dream about these situations, sometimes as though I am writing the story and then seeing it didn't work. Sometimes seeing it acted out. When I dream of it, which doesn't happen with editing but does with creative writing, I know I am taking it inside.
To me the best protection from FEAR is being aware from where it's coming and then doing whatever can realistically be done about it before letting it go and forgetting it. Being afraid ramps up the adrenalin. Fear might do the same but the adrenalin serves no purpose except to burden your organs. I have a few ideas I use:
Be aware but not beyond where I can make a difference.
Do what I can do.
Practice being where I am without projecting.
Exercise when feeling stressed.
Get out in nature, hug a tree -- no kidding, hug or sit under it because trees have great vibrations (don't do this during a windstorm though).
Remember beautiful times in my life.
Remind myself of what is within my circle of control
Avoid spending too much time knowing about what I can't impact-- as a writer, I go a little farther out there than others might need to do.
Distract myself with reading, watching comedies, silly adventure shows-- no horror at all for me.
Stay away from hysteria mongers.
And finally relax about it. What will be will be.
Any further tips that you can share? We are in a time where fear is being promoted from all directions. It's easy to see why some want to dig a hole and pull it in over themselves!