4 Ways to Conquer Your Anxiety and Fear
Life can be scary. Sometimes you’ll face situations that put you in a position where you feel unprepared. Not knowing what to expect can result in feelings of fear and anxiety. If you’re often filled with fear, there are a few things you can do to lessen those feelings. Here are four tips for conquering your fear.
1. Take a deep breath
When you’re struck with panic, take a deep breath. By stopping to collect your thoughts and breathe deeply, you’ll be able to calm down and focus. Breathing exercises will help lower your heart rate and soothe your nerves.
“There’s only one way to get through the fog of fear, and that’s to transform it into the clarity of exhilaration. One of the greatest pieces of wisdom I’ve ever heard comes from Fritz Perls, MD, the psychiatrist and founder of Gestalt Therapy. He said, ‘Fear is excitement without the breath.’ Here’s what this intriguing statement means: the very same mechanisms that produce excitement also produce fear, and any fear can be transformed into excitement by breathing fully with it. On the other hand, excitement turns into fear quickly if you hold your breath. When scared, most of us have a tendency to try to get rid of the feeling. We think we can get rid of it by denying or ignoring it, and we use holding our breath as a physical tool of denial…take big, easy breaths when you feel fear. Feel the fear instead of pretending it’s not there,” said Dr. Hendricks Gay in The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level.
2. Face your fear
One way to get over a situation that makes you fearful is to face your fear head on. For example, if you’re afraid of public speaking, accept opportunities to speak in front of people. Start with a small group and then work your way to a larger audience.
“I’ve worked with thousands of people whose health, happiness, and decision-making have been compromised by discomfort and fear, which has enslaved them in behavioral patterns that are unproductive and unfulfilling…The good news is there is much we can do to reset this threshold. Although our ancestral instincts direct us to flee even the anticipation of discomfort, it is now possible to transform these instincts to accept a greater tolerance for discomfort while embracing a far greater level of safety,” said Dr. Marc Schoen in Your Survival Instinct Is Killing You: Retrain Your Brain to Conquer Fear and Build Resilience.
3. Pay attention to negative thoughts
Your thoughts have a great influence on how you feel. When you dwell on your fear and focus on how afraid you are, the fear will become worse. Continuing to feed negative thoughts will just make you feel bad and cause you to become increasingly anxious and unproductive. Don’t let your fear rule you. Take control of your anxious thoughts and replace them with self-affirming ones.
“Thinking and planning, wonderful and useful as they are, are at the heart of our daily emotional distress because, unlike other tools, we can’t seem to put these down when we don’t need them. They keep us worrying about the future, regretting the past…this makes it very difficult to be truly satisfied for more than a brief time…it can send our emotions on a nonstop roller coaster as our mood soars and sinks based on thoughts,” said Ronald D. Siegel in The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems.
4. Grab a buddy
Seek a friend or family member to team up with you on your journey to tackle your fears. Having a support system and someone you can confide in will make it easier for you to cope during those days when you feel that your fearfulness has gotten out of hand. Studies have shown that a support network aids in emotional well-being. Benefits include a sense of belonging, an increased sense of self-worth, and feelings of security, according to WebMD research.