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Fear Grips Many American Workers


In a recent Gallup poll, 64 percent - almost two-thirds - of American workers described themselves as struggling or suffering due to the stresses of the current economic recession.

And on the latest American Psychiatric Association Stress in America survey, almost half of American workers said they fret about their ability to provide for their families' basic needs. Not surprisingly, many workers say they are overeating or drinking and smoking more as they try to cope with their silent stress.

Psychiatrist Judith Orloff at the University of California at Los Angeles has written a timely book called Emotional Freedom that deals directly with Americans' economic fears. In it, she argues that dread can actually be turned into a positive. In fact, she says people can draw courage from financial misfortune - in her words - much like you'd flip on a light switch.

First, Dr. Orloff advises worried workers to focus not on vague fears, but on the specific thing that most concerns them - and then confront it. The known, she says, is rarely as scary as the unknown.

Dr. Orloff advises people who are quietly panicking to avoid caffeine, sugar and other stimulants that drain energy, speed up the pulse and worsen feelings of fear.

She advises worried people to surround themselves with upbeat, positive optimists and avoid doomsayers. Then, she says, they should take small, positive steps of their own that make them feel good about themselves. Calling a credit card company and negotiating smaller payments, for instance.

In her new book, Orloff tells stressed individuals to, as she puts it, stay in the 'now' rather than obsessing about some imagined catastrophic future.

These remedies are all easier said than done, of course. But the author insists that fear can be turned into courage.

Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life is published by Harmony Books.

Read more of Ted's personal reflections and stories from the road on his blog, Ted Landphair's America.


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