Imagine feeling afraid of something—whether it’s thunderstorms, a dental visit, a stranger at your door, or the fear of losing a loved one. Fear is a natural response that signals caution, while anxiety involves worry about the future rather than a present threat.
When fear and anxiety become recurring issues, they can negatively impact our lives. If you wouldn’t ignore a clogged kitchen sink, why ignore persistent fear or anxiety affecting your well-being? Just as you’d call a plumber for the sink, it’s crucial to address these emotional challenges.
Here are six steps to help you overcome fear and anxiety:
Step 1: Understand Your Fear
Facing your fear head-on might seem daunting, but it’s essential. You can’t conquer a fear hidden in your subconscious. Turning towards your fear allows you to observe and understand it. Much like when you face a person, observing your fear helps you gain insights into its nature.
To confront your fears and anxieties, consider keeping a journal for a few weeks. Note any patterns you observe. For instance, do you get clammy hands and a tight stomach when the doorbell rings? Are your anxiety symptoms more pronounced in the morning or evening? Understanding your reactions helps demystify them, making them feel less overwhelming.
Most importantly, learning about your fear provides valuable insights into how to counter it.
Step 2: Harness the Power of Positive Imagination
Your imagination is a remarkable tool that can empower you with creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. However, it can become a double-edged sword when it dwells on negative thoughts, magnifying your fears and making situations seem worse than they are.
Instead of letting your imagination take you into the realms of fear, intentionally use it as a tool to conquer your fears.
How? Find a calm moment when you’re relaxed. Close your eyes and picture yourself in a situation that typically triggers fear. For example, if you fear getting lost in a crowd, envision yourself in a bustling airport. Imagine navigating the situation calmly—no freezing or tears. See yourself finding an information desk, locating the correct parking lot, unlocking your car, and safely driving home without any issues.
Experiencing peace in your imagined scenario can help you face the actual situation more calmly.
Step 3: Engage Your Brain Differently
Fear and anxiety often stem from a specific part of your brain, allowing emotions to override rational thought. When you sense fearful symptoms emerging, try to activate a different part of your brain. Consider focusing on numbers.
Like a nurse asking a patient to rate pain on a scale of 1-10, use a similar scale for your anxiety. If you rate your fear at a 7, aim to bring it down to a 4 or 3. The next step can help further lower your fear rating.
Step 4: Concentrate on Your Breathing
Breathing plays a more significant role than you might think. Anxiety often starts with shallow breaths, triggering negative reactions in your body that escalate into anxiety attacks. The key to combating these outbreaks is to control your breathing.
Thankfully, deep breathing is straightforward. When you sense fear creeping in, pause and focus on your breath. Inhale slowly, then exhale even more slowly. This isn’t just a mental trick—deep breathing prompts your body to physically calm itself down.
Step 5: Embrace Mindfulness
You might have heard about mindfulness, but what does it really mean? Mindfulness is a way of calmly observing your thoughts and feelings, promoting greater awareness of your fears. Remember, awareness is key in overcoming fear and anxiety, as we discussed in Step 1.
Try incorporating these mindfulness techniques during moments of milder fear and anxiety. When you notice your fear symptoms surfacing, take a moment to sit down and reflect on what’s happening to you. It’s like creating a mental journal entry.
Simply observe the symptoms without taking any immediate action. This passive approach heightens your self-awareness and prevents you from resorting to your typical fear responses. It’s a way to break free from the usual patterns and gain a fresh perspective.
Step 6: Connect with Nature for Therapeutic Relief
While talking to a therapist is valuable, you can’t always be in their office. Consider taking a walk outside instead! The natural beauty of parks, gardens, or any green space can effectively alleviate symptoms of fear and anxiety.
Nature has a calming effect, reducing stress and transforming moods from anxious to relaxed. Engaging in physical activities like walking or jogging outdoors also prompts your brain to work differently, shifting from irrational fearful thoughts to clearer thinking that aids in overcoming fear.
Nature can be your therapist, available whenever you need a refreshing break from fear and anxiety.
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