We live in a culture of fear. There has never been a time when people have been afraid of so much. Three out of four Americans say they feel more fearful today than they did twenty years ago. The media would have us believe that we need to be afraid of everything: the weather, the economy, terrorism, threats to our health. We get warnings via e-mail, text and social media. Surely, Armageddon is just around the corner.
Fear is a normal response to a threatening stimulus or situation. Without the fear response, neither cats nor humans would survive. Fear prepares us for fight or flight. While our domesticated cats don’t often deal with fear of survival in their environment, some of these fears may be hardwired. The good news is that, with proper support from their guardians, cats can get over their fears. Allegra used to be terrified of bad weather, but has come a long way in the past year in overcoming her fears.
But what happens when fear becomes a part of our daily lives?
Nature did not design the fear response to be a non-stop occurrence. When it kicks in, higher levels of adrenalin and cortisol are released into our system. This leads to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate and delivers increased oxygen and energy to muscles. While this is necessary in a real fear situation, it is ultimately a stress response, and we know that prolonged periods of stress lead to illness – in ourselves, and in our cats.
It’s hard not to buy into this culture of fear, but there are ways to cope:
Don’t watch the news. This is the single most effective step I know of toward better mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. You are discerning about what you put into your body – why not use that same judgment about what you allow to enter into your mind? If you must watch the news, don’t watch first thing in the morning or just before you go to bed.
Consider the source. In this age of fake news, it’s getting harder to find trustworthy news sources. Do your research. Don’t fall for click-bait headlines.
Turn off alerts. Every time you get one of these alerts, your body’s stress response kicks in.
Meditate. Meditation, or any other form of a structured spiritual practice, will help you shift your mindset from one of fear to one of love and connection with something greater than you.
Pet your cats. Studies have shown that petting a cat can lower your blood pressure and reduce your heart rate. It’s impossible to be fearful when you watch a sleeping cat.
Don’t let your fears run your life. Instead, create a world for yourself where you are in charge of how you feel. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your cats. Cats are sensitive creatures who pick up on their humans’ emotions. If you live in a constant state of fear and stress, so will your cats.
Photo of Obi by Jodi Ziskin
I am always battling my fears. I have quite a few especially the ones regarding the crime in my town. But I can’t let it stop me from doing what I need to do, like getting out and doing grocery whopping. My husband doesn’t like me to go places alone, but I can’t always depend on him to be there when I need to get out.
Good article on fear. Fear is part of our lives. Try to control what you can, aund everything else…… Petting your cats does calm one. Never have let news, weather, or smartphones rule my life. News and weather are just FYI. Both are subject to change at any moment. We all lived without smartphones. And are devices. Am not attached to it.
I agree about the FYI things like weather and news. But I get negative comments from people acting as if I am stupid for not keeping up on current events or politics. I hate politics! It is why I ended up here, trying to get away from Facebook.
Hard not to be fearful right now. I try not to watch too much news.
My human says she is more fearful than she was two weeks ago! But she is trying to be proactive instead of reactive, and look for answer to solve the problems that are the basis of the fear.
I have to agree about the news issue… it makes you feel lucky to have made it to work or home alive! I don’t watch the news or even the weather! They predicted an apocalyptic level ice storm a couple of weeks back here. Businesses closed, people were crazy and wiped out the shelves in stores, and people drove texting as they raced to beat a major storm that didn’t happen. People were in panic mode…
Home with my fiance and 3 cats, we waited together. We were happy we didn’t get caught in the frenzy and relaxed! Our cats are happy and understand they are safe… and they help us to relax!
Also, your cell phone can be muted! 🙂 You don’t have to answer it immediately… or at all!
You are so right about the phone, Julie! Sometimes I feel like our so-called smart phones run our lives, instead of us being in charge.