We live in an age of anxiety. But we don’t have to be held hostage by our fears, according to Mark Reinecke, head of psychology at the Feinberg School of Medicine. He shares his expertise on how to reduce anxiety in his new book, Little Ways to Keep Calm and Carry On: Twenty Lessons for Managing Worry, Anxiety and Fear
. Anxiety is a natural and adaptive emotion that protects us from perceived threats, he said, but stress can become overwhelming and make us hypersensitive to threats “that are really not threats at all.” People tend to overestimate the likelihood of bad things happening and underestimate their ability to cope, he said. “When you do those two things, the estimation of how much danger you are in goes up proportionately,” said Reinecke, who is also professor of psychiatry and behavior sciences at Feinberg. “We awful-ize.” He suggests that people should prepare for the “most-likely scenario” instead of the “worst-case scenario.” Based on psychological research and cognitive behavioral therapy, his book discusses a variety of issues, including productive versus unproductive worrying, coping with recurring negative thoughts, controlling anxiety, changing dysfunctional thinking and learning to relax.