What’s scarier than Halloween? If you would have asked me when I was a child growing up, I might have said ghosts, UFOs, or boogiemen hiding under the bed. If I were to ask you today, you may have some different answers such as natural disasters, gun violence, bullying, racism, or discrimination. It’s not to say that these fears were not relevant 30 years ago; however, they are more publicized today, and kids have more access to news and media through their devices then we did back then. The constant barrage of access to media can increase your anxious feelings of not feeling safe. Additionally, when you only hear bits and pieces of information, your imaginations may be more inclined to fill in the missing pieces with false information. While the probability of some events are less likely than what you imagine, the more the stories are sensationalized, the greater the fears can become. So how can we work together to reduce fears surrounding these experiences and perceptions?
- Talk to adults that you trust about things that scare you (i.e. parents, teachers, mental health professionals).
- Identify and discuss safety plans with parents and teachers. Pay attention during those drills at school (i.e. earthquake, school intruder) and know where to go and what to do at home, too.
- If you are feeling bullied or discriminated against, share these feelings with adults and friends. Stick together in groups. It is more difficult to bully a group of people rather than a single person.
- Participate in advocacy groups or clubs that are offered at school.
- Stay away from weapons. If you know of someone who has a weapon, tell an adult.
- If you see something or someone who appears suspicious, then tell an adult.
- Maintain a regular sleep and eating schedule. Anxiety can be heightened if you are not getting adequate nutrition or sleep.
- Take a break: Turn off the television and social media and engage in other hobbies and physical activity.
Although these fears can be scary, seek support and keep moving on. There are plenty of new adventures in life to experience.