How do you overcome fear? You take control!
Before we start I need you to understand that fear is natural but that doesn’t mean that you should allow it to hold you back.
During an emergency, fear can create strong signals of response such as if you are caught in a house fire or your brakes stop working while you’re driving.
The problem is that fear can also show itself in events that show no danger at all such as public speaking or when taking an exam.
Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears. — Rudyard Kipling
Some fears may disappear in a short amount of time while others may stay with you for a much longer length of time. Some people let these fears completely take over their lives making it almost impossible to do the things that they need to do which is a hard cycle to break, but not impossible!
If your community has been hit by a natural disaster or emergency, it can be difficult trying to make sense of what has happened and dealing with the situation.
In case you skipped the most important part so far I will say it again, fear is natural during these emergencies. However, if you don’t deal with the fear, it can be harmful to your health, both physically and mentally.
Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real.
If you have children, it is especially important that you help them with their fears. As parents, we do our best to protect our children but some things just aren’t under our control.
Children don’t necessarily have to experience a disaster directly to be affected by it. They are incredibly sensitive and they know when the news is on that something very bad has happened.
What Causes Fear?
There are a lot of things that can make us experience fear. The list is endless. Sometimes, this fear can actually help to keep us safe. As an example, if somebody has a fear of being caught in a fire they would be extra careful to make sure that they don’t cause one. Fearing failure can make you try to do well so that you won’t fail, but it can also stop you doing well if the feeling is too strong.
Fears differ from person to person as does the way that they act when they feel afraid. The first step to dealing with the issue is usually just knowing exactly what it is that makes you afraid and why.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. — Franklin D. Roosevelt
Anxiety is a type of fear and is often used to describe that which persists over an extended period of time. It is used when the fear is about something in the future rather than what is actually happening right now.
There are plenty of triggers for fear in everyday life, and you can’t always work out exactly why you are frightened. Sometimes you even know that the fear is irrational yet the emotional part of your brain keeps sending danger signals to your body.
Symptoms of Fear
When you feel frightened about something, your mind and body work very quickly. These are some of the symptoms that may be experienced:
- Rapid heart beat – maybe it feels irregular
- You breathe very fast
- Your muscles feel weak
- Your stomach churns or your bowels feel loose
- Lack of concentration
- You feel frozen to the spot
- Loss of appetite
- You get a dry mouth
- You get very tense muscles
These things occur because your body, sensing fear, is preparing you for an emergency, so it makes your blood flow to the muscles, increases blood sugar, and gives you the mental ability to focus on the thing that your body perceives as a threat.
How to Overcome Fear
When a disaster strikes, some people will watch the video clips on the TV, but they continue to watch them over and over again in their mind’s eye. The repetitive nature of these thoughts make the negative feelings more intense.
The best way out is always through. — Robert Frost
Whatever it is that scares you, the tips below will help you to overcome your fears.
1. Face Your Fears Head On
You certainly don’t need to conquer every single fear that you experience. You only really need to conquer those that are actually stopping you from moving forward.
If you fear a tsunami happening yet live thousands of miles from the coast, you really don’t need to worry too much about that yet you might if you live right on the coast.
Face your fears head on. Don’t hide from them, go in on the attack. If you constantly try to hide away from your fears, they will continue to grow.
This process of facing your fears is called EXPOSURE and involves gradually and repeatedly going into feared situations until you feel less anxious about them. It is not dangerous and it won’t make the fear any worse. The steps for exposure are as follows:
- Make a list – make a list of all the situations, places or objects that you fear
- Build a ladder – arrange the items on the list from the least scary to the most scary
- Face the fears – start with the situation that causes the least anxiety and repeatedly engage in that activity until you start to feel less anxious doing it. Once you can stay in a specific situation on several separate occasions without experiencing much anxiety, you can move on to the next thing on the list
- Practice – It is important to practice on a regular basis. Some steps can be practiced daily, while other steps can only be done once in a while.
2. Breathe Deeply
When you’re stressed out about something, you have probably at some point been told to “Just breathe” and there is a very good reason for doing so.
So why does this work?
According to Psych Central editor Margarita Tartakovsky, “Deep diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful anxiety-reducing technique because it activates the body’s relaxation response.”
Psychologist Marla W. Deibler told Psych Central, “It helps the body go from the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system to the relaxed response of the parasympathetic nervous system.”
3. Help Others
When you’re stressed out about a certain situation, it can oftentimes feel like you just don’t have the time or the energy to invest in other people. But you may want to make it a priority. Research has shown that helping others is an easy way to reduce your stress levels.
In one study, researchers tracked 77 adults a week, asking them to record any stressful events that occurred, how often they helped other people, and their psychological and emotional states. The results? On the days that they helped other people, they experienced less negative emotions. Some of those helping behaviors were as simple as holding a door open for someone and helping kids with homework.
By helping other people, it can feel like you’re making a difference.
4. Have the Right Mindset
One of the biggest reasons for our fears is the mindset that we bring to a situation from the get-go. Our in-going mindset has a huge impact not only in how we anticipate and experience new situations, but also in what we say and do–and, unfortunately, what we don’t say and do.
In other words, we focus on performing instead of learning. We focus more on “being good” than on “getting better.” You need to start looking at your fears as opportunities to learn.
Many people might say that they can’t help not being or living in fear. This is known as the “victim mindset,” and we can always do something about it. In everything that we do, we have the power of choice. Fear is simply the mismanagement of our thoughts and minds.
5. Talk to Others
It maybe difficult to do but when you may be going through a hard time, you need to talk with someone about your feelings – anger, sorrow and any other emotions that you are feeling. By talking with others about the event, you can relieve stress and realize that others share your feelings too.
If you have any children, encourage them to share their concerns and feelings about the disaster with you.
If you don’t allow yourself to express your feelings, it will keep you from being able to work through what has happened.