Five Ways to Overcome Fear and Anxiety

Stacy Corea, Staff Writer/Staff Photographer

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We all at one point in our lives have had fear or anxiety. Some people have extreme fear or anxiety, to the point where it can damage their health. “The fears we don’t face, becomes our limits”-Robin Sharma. When we are too scared of doing something that terrifies us, we are letting our fear win. Anxiety interferes with our daily lives. Severe anxiety damages our health more than people know. You can get disorders if you don’t try to find a solution to the problems that cause you to get anxiety. Here are some ways to help you overcome fear and anxiety.

1) Breathing is the short circuit for anxiety

Accelerated, hollow breathing is the first trigger which shoots all the other anxious symptoms into action. So by controlling breathing, you can control all the other anxiety symptoms as well.

If you purposely breathe out longer than you breathe in, your body has to calm down (regardless of what tricks your imagination is playing on you).

So if you start to feel fearful:

  • Stop
  • Focus on your breath
  • Take a breath in (to the quick count of 7 in your mind)
  • Then slowly breathe out (to the quick count of 11 in your mind)

If you do this for a minute or so, you’ll be amazed how quickly you’ve calmed down.

2) Prepare for peaceful performance

If you get anxious and fearful about upcoming events, you’ll notice that just thinking about that interview, speech, or whatever will start to cause physical responses that are collectively called anxiety.

But you’re going to find that taking a breath ahead of time calms the association down, priming your mind to feel more relaxed naturally and automatically when the actual situation arrives.

So when you find yourself thinking about the future event, just take a breath.

One symptom of too much fear or anxiety is not being able to think clearly .This happens because the emotional part of the brain ‘swamps’ the thinking part.

But in most modern situations you want to think clearly, and keeping your ‘thinking brain’ working actually calms you down. The next step helps you do that.

3) Use a different part of your brain

When we become very anxious, it’s harder to think clearly. But if we force ourselves to use parts of ‘the thinking brain,’ this will lessen the emotion and begin to calm you down.

The easiest way to do this is with numbers. You can scale your own fear from 1 to 10, 10 being the most terrified it’s possible to be and 1 being the ultimate relaxed state.

When you’re feeling anxious, ask yourself: “Okay what number on the scale am I right now? Am I a 7, or a 5?” Just doing this will lower anxiety because it kick-starts the thinking brain, lessoning the emotion and automatically making you calmer.

4) Get control of your imagination

Fear and anxiety thrive when we imagine the worst. We developed imagination to be able to project into the future so we can plan ahead. However, a side effect of being able to imagine possible positive futures is being able to imagine things going wrong. A bit of this is useful; after all, it can prepare us for the worst. But uncontrolled imagination is a nesting ground for anxiety and fear that can spoil otherwise happy lives.

Some people misuse their imagination and ironically suffer much more anxiety than those who either think way ahead of their imaginations constructively or who don’t tend to think about the future much at all. Anxious or chronic worriers tend to misuse their imaginations to the extent that upcoming events feel like disasters waiting to happen. No wonder why some lives can be damaged by fear and anxiety.

Some people don’t even really know they are doing this. So:

  • Sit down and take a breath
  • Count yourself down from whatever number you deem yourself to be to a 2 or a 1.
  • Doing this can help you feel more calm and cool

5) Use the AWARE technique

Fear and anxiety can feel as if they ‘just happen to us’, but we have much more control than we realize. Use the AWARE method, that stands for:

A: Accept the anxiety. Don’t try to fight it.

W: Watch the anxiety.  When you notice it, scale your level of fear and start to breathe longer on the out-breath.

A: Stands for ‘Act normally’. Carry on talking or behaving as if nothing is different. This sends a powerful signal to your unconscious mind that its over-dramatic response is actually not needed because nothing that unusual is going on. Like fire fighters coming out and seeing that no emergency is happening and then go back to the fire station.

R: Repeat the above steps in your mind if necessary.

E: Expect the best. One of the greatest feelings in life is the realization that you can control fear much more than you thought possible.

Overcoming fear and anxiety will give you the ‘spare capacity’ in life to focus on what you really want to be and do. It takes effort, but imagine the rewards.

 

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Five Ways to Overcome Fear and Anxiety