If we are walking down a deserted street at night, even a slight rustle of leaves is enough to startle us. But the same rustle will probably go unnoticed if we are sitting in a park during the day. The reason we respond differently in these two situations is fear. In the first situation, the sound could indicate that someone is following us. This threat – whether it is real or imagined– triggers the fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline rushes through our body, our muscles tense up, and alertness spikes up, and we are all set to fight or flee. In this way, fear plays a vital role in protecting us. Understanding Fear and Anxiety
Sometimes, this fear response can go haywire and make ordinary situations look scary. Right before you walk on stage to deliver a speech, your heart might start to race. You may suddenly feel twitchy, start sweating or trembling, or feel nauseated. Your rational mind knows that the audience is friendly and intends no harm, that you are perfectly safe, and yet you feel scared. This fear is completely unnecessary and could even be detrimental to the task at hand – your speech.
If the fear is not about the present moment but about something that could happen in the future, it morphs into anxiety. Anxiety could then be understood as a fear that persists. When our mind starts predicting everything that could go wrong in a future situation, we still feel the fear as if it were immediate. Over time, fear and anxiety can have detrimental effects on both our emotional and physical well-being. (To learn more about anxiety, click here AnxietyDisorders: Symptoms and Treatment Options (nddtreatment.com))How to Beat Fear And Anxiety
It is natural for us to want to avoid negative emotions. But by trying to avoid fear and anxiety, we instead become trapped by them. By evading them, we just end up prolonging our issues. When we face our fears instead of suppressing them, we deprive the fear of its power. If you don’t want fear to hold you hostage and dictate your decisions, follow these strategies:
When you feel the fear coming on – heart beating faster, palms starting to sweat, shortness of breath – the best thing to do is to not fight it. Suppressing the panic usually makes it worse. Just stay in the moment and take deep breaths. Anxiety triggers faster, shallower breathing which brings an avalanche of other physical symptoms. The trick is to short-circuit this process. When you slow down your breathing, it signals your body to calm down. Take in a slow, deep breath, and then let it out slowly. Make sure to breathe out longer than you breathe in. You can keep count in your head – breathe in for a quick count of 7, then breathe out to 11. You will be amazed at how fast your anxiety melts away.
2. Analyze Your Fear
To overcome fear, it’s absolutely essential to first understand its nature. A journal can be a great way to achieve this. Try to record your fears and see if any pattern emerges. Does anxiety strike you at a specific time of day? Do you feel uncomfortable in crowds, or when alone? How does fear manifest in your body? Can you think of a way to calm yourself – maybe calling a friend will help you relax. Noting down your experience offer can help you understand it better and even challenge the fear-inducing thoughts.
3. Be Imaginative
When imagination runs amok and presents you with images of all that could go wrong, take a moment to recognize that you can reverse this track. Imagine yourself at a place that makes you feel safe. Maybe you’re walking around a quiet lake, snuggling in bed with your loved one, or laughing with friends at a cafe. You could even recall a happy memory. Or you could see the situation in a humorous light – imagine the Presidenthanding you a trophy for giving the worst speech ever. With enough creativity, you can find your way out of any situation you fear.
Exercising is a fantastic way to relieve all your pent-up stress. It also forces you to focus on the present moment. Whether you’re lifting weights at the gym, running in a park, or doing yoga at your home, you will be completely immersed in the movements and sensations of your body. This helps keep you grounded and helps you feel in control of yourself. And as a bonus, your body releases endorphins that uplift your mood.
5. Enjoy Nature
Nature is a free remedy. If you can, try going for a walk in the park. The fragrance of the flowers and the leaves, the freshness of the air, and the chirping of the animals and birds will fill you with a sense of beauty and wonder. The lush greenery will soothe your eyes and your mind. You will be surprised by how rejuvenated you feel.
The practice of mindfulness meditation involves settling your attention on your breath, a visual object such as a candle, or physical sensations. The goal is to keep redirecting your attention to the object of focus every time your mind starts to wander. Anxiety forces us to pay attention to negative thoughts. Meditation strengthens our ability to redirect our focus and let go of bothersome thoughts.
7. Visualize Success
Sometimes an important upcoming event – an exam, a job interview, a presentation at work, a family gathering – can make us anxious. Merely thinking about it can make our hearts race and cloud our thinking. On a deeper level, this anxiety is priming us to feel the same distressing emotions during the actual event. To counter this, imagine the same event, but this time picture yourself feeling calm and prepared. Make this mental picture as vivid and detailed as you can. If you have faced the same situation in the past and done well, remind yourself of it. When the event finally comes around, you will find that you are actually feeling calm and prepared, just like you had imagined.
8. Practice Self-Care
Be kind to yourself. If something scares you, don’t judge your feelings. Acknowledge that fear is a part of life, and assure yourself that you have the ability to overcome it. Every time you face your fear with courage, compliment yourself like you would a friend. If the anxiety wins, think of it as an opportunity to learn and grow. The moment you stop viewing fear as a threat, you will open yourself to a world of opportunities. When to Seek Help
Managing fear and anxiety is something all of us have to learn. The strategies above can be very effective in helping you overcome the fear that is holding you back. But sometimes the anxiety can be so overwhelming that it interferes with our ability to function normally. This might be a sign of a deeper issue that requires professional assistance. A therapist can help you probe your emotions and fears in a safe space and help you discover strategies that suit your specific needs and address your specific fears. A mental health professional can also assess whether you might benefit from medication – medication can greatly improve your symptoms and boost the progress that you make through psychotherapy. You should always remember that overcoming fear and anxiety requires immense strength and courage, and you do not have to fight the battle alone.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.