Hi. It’s Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com. Our question today is from Alex in Denver. Me and my friends are going to camp in a few weeks and I’m very anxious about it. I get panic attacks as to what will happen there, what sort of people I will meet and what if a bear attacks us?
You are describing fear of the unknown. Drive those fears into the light and they may not be so bad. Let’s start with the bears. Are you fears realistic? Are more bears in the area? If so, what kind? Have there been documented bear attacks in the area? It can help to do some research and learn about the different kinds of bears, their habits and behavior, and if there have been bear attacks in the area you are going to camp in.
Black bears are generally docile, secretive, and tend to avoid people whenever possible. The exceptions tend to be when people feed them and they learn people are a source of food, so they become less shy. The other time they can be dangerous is if you get between a mother black bear and her cubs. It is unlikely you will see a black bear in the wild, and if you do, they may be more scared of you than you are of them and they will try to avoid you. Grizzly bears are larger than black bears and are territorial, much more aggressive, and can be dangerous. Kodiak bears, also known as brown bears, are even bigger and also very territorial and aggressive. They will still tend to avoid you if possible.
Now onto people. What are your core fears? What sort of people will you meet? Probably people interested in the outdoors like you are, and I doubt you will be the only one there that has some anxiety about being in the wilderness. Most modern people are very separated from nature and reside in urban areas. A degree of anxiety is quite normal. You might feel better by seeking out people in the group that have similar concerns and connecting with them to reassure each other.