Under Pressure: The Science of Anxiety, Fear and Stress

“What is the most common mental health issue in America? You might be tempted to say depression. But you would be wrong.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anxiety disorders now take the top spot, with 18 percent of Americans suffering from one. In his new book Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool, journalist Taylor Clark begins by highlighting our extreme levels of anxiety, writing that the average high school student today has the same anxiety level as a psychiatric patient did in the 1950s and that Americans are five times as likely to suffer from anxiety as Nigerians, who arguably have more to fear.

Clark does not spend much time speculating on how we became a society awash in worry. He does something perhaps more significant—he clarifies what anxiety is and how we can treat it. There is, Clark says, a “nervous trinity” that can wreak havoc on our minds: anxiety, fear and stress.”

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Chasing Amy (Klobuchar): A Profile of Ms. Popularity

“On a cold Monday morning last January, Amy Klobuchar was walking down the sidewalk toward Central High School in St. Paul. I first spotted her long red coat, which made her stand out amid the snow and the crowd. Without it, I might have missed the senator, being as she is short and rather ordinary-looking.

Klobuchar does not look like one of the most powerful people in the state. She does not look like one of the most ambitious politicians currently at work in Washington. She does not look like Minnesota’s most popular public official, which she is. She is neither beautiful, nor ugly. She looks pleasant, sensible, normal.

Yet I could see as we walked into the high-school lobby that most people regarded Klobuchar as anything but normal. As she moved forward, her presence sent a ripple through the crowd, which had gathered to march in memory of Martin Luther King Jr. The school was full of people from all kinds of social strata. There were community organizers and aging hippies, eager students and dutiful civil servants. Some whispered as they saw her. Others pushed terrified children at her. More than a few wanted to talk.

“Thank you for fighting for us!” yelled one woman.

Klobuchar stopped to shake her hand. She seemed to know the woman, though that, of course, is the art of politics.”

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Too Much Information, or Sliding Down the Scree Slope of Trivia

“About a year ago, I made a radical pledge. It came after several years of feeling less and less able to deal with the tidal wave of information coming at me: 3.6 zettabytes annually, which amounts to 100,000 words each day. That’s a 350 percent increase over people’s exposure in 1980.

I was drowning in data. So, like an electronic-age Dutch boy, I put my finger in the dike. Each Monday, I resolved, I would spend the entire day offline.

I didn’t make this decision lightly. As a writer, I depend on the Internet to find information, to communicate with friends and colleagues, and to refill the well of knowledge and ideas. Yet the costs of constant access were becoming impossible to ignore. Sometimes I would go online to find one thing, then spend an hour or two reading about other interesting things, while completely forgetting what I had originally been looking for. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t keep my thoughts straight. Sometimes I felt like I was losing my mind.”

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