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Mixing Anxiety and Oil

I admit, I can be a bit of a news junky—sometimes when I’m supposed to be working at home, I can’t resist a look at online news or a quick video of some current story. I confess, the oil spill has got me riveted. That’s not good when there are outlines to finish, blogs to write, bills to pay, or articles to read. Okay, so the laundry needs sorting so I can turn on the news while hanging and folding. Those pictures of black oil gushing into the gulf make me nervous. How about you?

The current controversy is about how much oil is actually spewing out. The company originally guessed about 5,000 barrels a day was leaking, but estimates now have grown from maybe 20,000 barrels to possibly 100,000 barrels. A barrel of oil produces about 19 gallons of gas (among other things). Hey, when I fill my car up at the gas station, I usually put about 19 gallons in my tank. So, for me if the lowest estimate (5,000 barrels) is correct, I could fill my car up about 5,000 times from one day’s worth at the lowest estimate. I usually fill up about once a week—5,000 weeks, that one day’s worth of leakage will take care of my car for the next 96 years. Now, I do drive a reliable car, but…

What will happen? How can our living ocean handle a disaster like this? Is there enough money, knowledge, or resources available to recover? Yikes. I feel about as safe as I did in 2nd grade sitting under my wooden desk in school waiting for the nuclear bombs to drop. What to do?

Okay, get out Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies 2nd edition. Take a few deep breaths. Know that I can only control a small part of my world. Do a few things to make my world a better place. Perhaps I can express my opinion to my congressional representative. I can do something to help others. And I can take care of myself as best I can and breathe.

Simple advice—to be sure. Nonetheless, it helps to remind yourself that worry only makes sense when there is something you can actually do about your problems. When confronting the uncontrollable, take comfort in small steps that make some difference.

Mixing Anxiety and Oil

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D.

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of adults and children with obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as personality disorders, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and learning disorders. Dr. Smith is a widely published author of articles and books to the profession and the public, including: Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies (2E), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder For Dummies, Seasonal Affective Disorder For Dummies, Anxiety and Depression Workbook For Dummies, Depression For Dummies, Hollow Kids: Recapturing the Soul of a Generation Lost to the Self-Esteem Myth, and Why Can’t I Be the Parent I Want to Be? Her website is:

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APA Reference
Smith, L. (2010). Mixing Anxiety and Oil. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 May 2010
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