Facing our fears
Acknowledging the presence of fear is the first step in the right direction. Some are able to face it head-on and conquer it
Fear is the worst of all negative emotions we humans can feel.
Once it takes over your mind, it is not just your mind and heart that will be affected by it. Being scared can paralyze your life and make it stand still without progressing on many fronts.
The most unfortunate part about it is that there is no age barrier for experiencing fear. It can affect the young and the old and everyone in between.
Fighting and overcoming fear is crucial to living our lives the way we want to. This is a point everyone would agree with. Each one of us has our own coping mechanism to deal with it – some successful, others not.
This article explores the topic of fear – why do we experience panic, what are its manifestations, and what can you do about it.
What makes you scared?
Many things can act as triggers for worry and panic. Spanning across physical factors to mental influences, things and circumstances that can set off fear vary from person to person.
On rare occasions being scared can keep you safe from danger – such as the dread of fire or heights. However, the most damaging of all is anxiety about failure. In its intense form, it can stop you right on the track, too afraid to move forward and live your life.
However, fear doesn’t affect everyone equally. Some dread certain things, others are afraid of almost everything, and some do not feel scared of anything. The precise reason for this anomaly is hard to understand. Genetic factors and a person’s upbringing are considered to be the triggers for evoking the worst of all negative feelings.
What does fear feel like?
Our body reacts to dread emphatically without losing a moment. Depending on the trigger for fear and the intensity at which it is felt, the reaction may vary. Some of the common expressions of fear are:
- Fast/irregular beating of the heart
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive sweating
- Butterflies in the stomach feeling
- Muscles go weak or clench up
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Feel as if frozen or rooted to the spot
- Cannot get the food down the throat
- Feel hot and cold alternatively
- Dryness of the mouth
- Bowel movement
These are some of the physical indications of experiencing fear. This happens as the body prepares to deal with it. When you feel afraid, your brain turns on the emergency mode, increasing blood flow and raising blood sugar levels. This results in better focus and energy to deal with the situation that is making you afraid.
Often, even when you are not facing any imminent danger, you get panic attacks. This is for the perceived danger that may not happen at all.
Many times, you feel fear without understanding the reason for it. Or even when you know that there is no reason to feel scared, you may still feel it.
Learning to face your fears and find ways to remove fear from mind and heart is the only way out to live our lives the way we want to.
How to fight fear?
1. Know your fear
Try to get to the bottom of it. Understand the trigger and deal with it. This is easier said than done. This requires keeping a record of when it happens, how it happens, and what happens. Though tedious to manage, this is found to be helpful by most people.
Analyze the notes and come up with ideas to tackle the problem. Start with smaller steps and move on to more drastic ones.
2. Relaxation techniques and exercising
Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and massages can help you to calm down and face the situation and fight the emotion with equanimity. Working out can take the focus away from fear and the break may help you come up with remedies to overcome your fears and remove them from your heart.
3. Eat healthily, avoid fear-triggering foods
As we all know, not all foods available to us are equal. While some foods help us live our lives to the fullest, others may hamper our progress. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and seafood provide nutrition to the body and maintain it in optimal condition.
On the other hand, alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs are at the other end of the spectrum. They offer nothing for the nutrition of the body but cause long-lasting damages. Avoiding them can help in your fight against dread and worry.
4. Faith and spirituality
If you are religious-minded, acknowledging the existence of a higher power and maintaining a connection can help in calming down the mind and help it fight fear and remove it from your heart. Being part of religious groups can give you a sense of comfort and support. This can take you a long way in the mitigation of fear.
5. Talk to friends
If you find yourself unable to cope with fear, you may enlist the help of someone you are close to in your family and friends’ circle. The conversation may give you a different perspective of the scenario. Often this may be all that you need to remove unexplainable fear.
When do you need to seek help?
Fear is one of the emotions all of us experience from time to time. As part of growing up, we learn to cope with it along with many other negative emotions. However, for some, the intensity of fear felt may not remain the same. It would be felt harder and longer. The coping mechanism may not be able to contain the aftereffects of the emotion.
When fear is severe and lasts longer, it turns into a mental health problem. As fear grips you for days or weeks, it will take over your life and refuse to leave you alone. If you find yourself unable to shake off the feeling even after repeated attempts, it is time to consult a doctor.
Fear of the intense kind can cause a lot of damage to our lives and in turn affect our near and dear ones. It can stop us from making vital decisions and make us feel stressed, anxious, and uptight. It can isolate us from people who love and care for us. If left unattended, it can change the course of our lives and damage our future beyond repair.
Acknowledging the presence of fear is the first step in the right direction. Some may be able to face it head-on and conquer fear forever. Not everyone is this fortunate or courageous. They may find the suggestions listed here helpful to lead a peaceful, fulfilling life.