I can’t remember where I heard the quote but it really stuck with me. It goes “If you’re hearing about it on the news it is by definition newsworthy and rare. You needn’t be concerned about those things but rather the deaths that are so common they’ll never warrant a headline.” I was a worrier, a really, really bad one and though not totally reformed I spend about 90% less of the energy on it than I used to. I would stay up all night worked into a huff about something that would never end up happening. That not only makes you stressed and tiered it also causes wrinkles! I’m not perfect and a new noise or a light on in the car sends me for a loop but if something is by definition rare I’ve resolved not to give it energy. Besides that those are usually the things I can’t do anything about anyway! With all the worry in the world over the new corona virus (covid-19), we will get into that too, it might be a good time to take a step back and a deep breath and think about the things that make you worry overall.
Now I am going to suggest that you worry about certain things, sort of but not really. It’s more as an exercise to point out that the things we work our self up over really don’t make sense. Don’t like book time into your schedule to worry about these things, that’s not what I mean to suggest at all! Maybe next time you find yourself in a proper froth after watching the news think about this instead.
Don’t worry about: Vaping
I know we all just went through a spell where the news would have you believe that all the vapers were dropping dead. The reality of it though was that all that lung disease was mostly temporary and caused by vitamin E acetate largely in THC containing products. In states where recreational pot use isn’t legal that means it was a black market product. Even among users of those products lung issues were rare and over 98% of those hospitalized recovered. The CDC confirms that 64 people have died from vaping … ever. Remember that nicotine vaping is meant to be a harm reduction strategy for smokers.
Instead worry about: Smoking
Vaping is a valid harm reduction strategy for smokers as we’ve established. Is it proven totally safe? Well no but … Smoking will eventually lead directly to the death of HALF of its lifetime users. Think about that if you smoke for most of your adult life there is a 50% chance you will die early from a totally preventable death. Cigarettes are sold at every gas station, grocery store and corner store out there. Kids do still get their hands on them and it even kills people who never have a cigarette through the effects of second hand smoke. Weirdly the nicotine is mostly safe it’s the delivery system that sucks! PS last year alone 480 000 people died from smoking related deaths in the USA.
Don’t worry about: Exploding cell phones
Every so often a cell phone or charger catches fire because of the battery, the off brand charger or pervious damage. Sometimes it even causes a house fire and sometimes people are injured or worse. Then it makes the news and the images are dramatic and then you’re worried that you have the same model and a dollar store charger right? Here’s the thing this usually happens when people first plug them in, they are home (and with their phone), and they can usually deal with the fire relatively safely by taking it outside or putting it somewhere it can’t burn. If people ARE injured it’s usually just burns on the extremities. Let’s look at the numbers then yearly roughly 100 cell phones catch fire in the USA and were found to be responsible for 3 deaths ever. That makes your phone one of the safest consumer products available, sorry. Fun fact bouncy castles are responsible for more deaths than exploding cell phones in total.
Instead worry about: Alcohol induced injury
Plan on getting tipsy this weekend, having a few wobbly pops tonight? Don’t you’re very likely to die! No not really but it is sort of a thing. Each year in the USA roughly 10 500 people die as a result of drinking and driving a further 3000 die from other alcohol related accidents. That means that every day 39 people die from an alcohol related accident. This is literally so common that unless it is newsworthy in some other way you’ll probably never hear about it. Think about that the next time you’re plugging in your cell phone when drunk!
Don’t worry about: COVID-19
Alert not anxious is the way to go here and with any pandemic really. No I’m not going to say it’s really far away from you because that won’t make you worry less. Plus, what about the next one that could be in your backyard or this one could spread right? Let’s dig into the numbers and pretend that every single case so far is in the city of Wuhan, so these numbers are worse than the true case. At the time of writing (Feb 22) this there have been 78 542 cases diagnosed. With a population in the city of 19 million then that means 0.4% of the population has gotten sick. A total of 2 458 people have died so as of now the virus has a death rate of 3% of confirmed cases. Which means that even if you live in the city of Wuhan, and we pretend all of the cases are there, you have a 0.013% chance of dying from the disease which is about 1 in 10 000 if you live at the epicenter of the outbreak. Sure be cautious, wash your hands and such but there is absolutely no reason to freak out. Even if you get sick there is a 97% chance you’ll get better probably a lot more if you’re not immune compromised. At the start of an outbreak we tend to under diagnose cases and only pick up on the more serious ones thereby artificially increasing the death rate. As the outbreak continues screening improves and people are more vigilant so more mild cases are officially diagnosed. So that 3% is likely to go down over time not up. By next year, if not sooner a vaccine will be available and then the outbreak can be effectively controlled even if the supply is limited.
Instead worry about: The flu
In 2019 over 14 000 Americans died from the flu that is almost 6 times the number of people who have died from COVID-19 so far, just in the USA! It was a somewhat typical if not a bit slow of a year. Every single year, all year long, the flu and complications from it could kill you and it’s not a risk that’s going away. If you are very young (under a year, especially under 6 months) or very old you have more cause for concern because your immune system isn’t fully developed or has mostly broken down. Those with old and new immune systems or those that are suppressed (by something like chemo) are dramatically mostly at risk. Often people don’t die from the flu itself but the pneumonia after the fact. So get your shot every single year!
Don’t worry about: Being killed by someone else
You’ll often hear people extoll the virtues of times gone by when kids left the house after lunch and didn’t come home until dark. Nothing happened and no one cared. Things aren’t like that anymore right? Well you are right the murder rate has dropped by roughly half since 1975. Back in those good old days (in Canada) the homicide rate was a bit above 3 per 100 000 residents now it’s well less than 2. Those statistics follow for all the types of violent crime like kidnapping and assault too. About 70 of those murders each year are committed by a spouse each year which accounts for over 10% of the murders in Canada each year. So if you’re still worried that the world is going to hell in a hand-basket and you are worried about being killed by a stranger out in the world you can stop. The world is basically twice as safe now as it was in those ‘good old’ days you continue to glorify.
Instead worry about: Falling
In 2017 an ominous 666 Canadians were murdered however 2500 or 375% more Canadians died after falling down. It’s the second leading cause of accidental death after car accidents and is well well above all the poisonings (including drug overdoses). Remember back to when you were a kid and you heard about Humpty Dumpty that was a cautionary tale. What does this mean then? You should be more afraid of things like stairs, gravity and poorly treaded shoes than walking alone at night unless its slippery.
There are plenty of other examples of things like shark attacks, wild animals in general and water over your head that really make no sense to be afraid of. Sure something pops up on the evening news and scares the wits right out of you. That’s totally normal by the way. I hope though that I’ve made you realize that if you’re hearing about something on the news it is by definition it’s so rare you don’t need to worry about it happening to you. Do you have any irrational fears that you just can’t make go away? How do you deal with worry in your life? Leave it in the comments below!