Regardless of whether you’re prone to anxiety, there are certain life situations that can provoke a fluttering heart and a feeling of dread. While being trapped in a burning building deserves an adrenaline surge, other seemingly catastrophic events don’t live up to their bad reputations. Check out eight mini-crises that can be conquered with a little reassurance and some common sense.
1. ROOT CANALS
The root canal might be the most dreaded dental procedure out there, a popular punchline to complaints about any undesirable appointment. But when a friend says they’d rather have a root canal than go on another bad date, they’re not exaggerating as much as they might think. The procedure—which removes infected or inflamed pulp inside of the tooth and caps the space with an artificial surface called a crown—has instilled fear thanks to decades-old painful treatment methods. Thankfully, today’s technology and techniques have made the procedure no more uncomfortable than filling a tooth: Patients who have actually undergone the treatment are six times less likely to describe it as painful as someone who hasn’t.
No one enjoys the sensation of a massive flying cylinder bouncing up and down thousands of feet in the air. While that jostling may feel dramatic, turbulence almost never precipitates any kind of disaster. In fact, it’s been roughly 50 years since any aircraft has been brought down by a turbulent flight pattern—and today’s planes are significantly better equipped to handle a rough ride than models of the 1960s. As for the feeling of being stuck inside a giant washing machine: You’re in surprisingly little danger of even mild injuries. Of the 800 million passengers who board commercial flights every year, an average of just 34 suffer bumps or bruises due to a rough ride—and, on average, 20 of those injured are crew members.
3. PUBLIC SPEAKING
Often cited as the most common fear next to death (and iconic nightmare fodder), standing in front of a group of people and delivering a speech can prompt a lot of teeth grinding and panicked pacing. But according to experts, learning to relax while addressing a crowd isn’t that difficult. Among the most popular advice is to remember that those nerves you’re feeling are difficult for the audience to detect. It’s also a good idea to remind yourself that most of your viewers would probably be apprehensive about speaking in front of a crowd, too.
4. SWALLOWING GUM
While it’s not a good idea to consider bubble gum part of your daily nutritional profile, swallowing the occasional piece is not going to result in an ER visit. Gum does not stay in the body for years, as some myths have reported, and is generally a benign occupant of your digestive tract that will pass without incident.
5. A MISSING DOG
It can be devastating to discover a dog has escaped the confines of your property, but the odds are on Muffin’s side: One study that polled over 1000 pet owners found that over 90 percent of dogs reported missing were returned safely.
6. STUCK ELEVATORS
An overactive imagination and an immobile or noisy elevator is a bad combination. While amusement park rides and urban legends make the possibility of free-falling down the shaft seem plausible, the reality is that elevators are supported by multiple cables—each capable of holding an entire elevator by itself—and sophisticated braking systems. Despite what horror movies might argue, the accident rate for elevators is a statistical speck: just 27 deaths per 18 billion rides a year.
7. DROPPING A RING DOWN THE DRAIN
Seeing a prized wedding or engagement ring tumble down the black abyss of a sink drain can produce a similar sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Fortunately, plumbing design usually accounts for mishaps involving foreign objects. Most sinks are equipped with a p-trap (the curved section directly below the sink), which traps solid matter to help prevent clogs. Removing the trap and fetching the ring is something any plumber or skilled DIYer can do with ease.
8. IDENTITY THEFT
While a compromised social security number or credit card can set off fears of massive debt you’d be liable for, identity theft is actually on the decline thanks to improved security measures at banks and other financial institutions. Statistically, the chance of someone taking your private information to perpetuate big schemes and make huge purchases is less than 1 percent. If you’re one of the unlucky few that has a card number stolen, most issuers cap your responsibility for unauthorized charges at $50.