All of us will have to deal with fears.
Much of the rise in anxiety is related to people feeling their connections with others are less stable–
there’s been an increase in divorce, fewer people are getting married and they’re less engaged in their churches, synagogues and local institutions.
While many Americans’ lives are improving in every material way, their expectations for happiness are also rising and they feel less satisfied.
Fears come, sometimes out of the blue, and many people have no support structure with which to buttress their bruised emotional selves.
So what do you do when Fear seems to be about to swallow you whole?
1. Take time out
It feels impossible to think clearly when you’re flooded with fear or anxiety. Distract yourself from the worry for 15 minutes by walking around the block, making a cup of tea or having a bath.
When you’ve physically calmed down, you’ll feel better able to decide on the best way to cope.
2. What’s the worst that can happen?
When you're anxious about something, be it work, a relationship or an exam, it can help to think through what the worst end result could be.
For me, I thought it was dying sooner than I expected. What did Woody Allen say: "I'm not afraid of dying. I just don't want to be there when it happens."
Then, a co-worker told me her uncle had the same surgery on the same spot as I was going to have it, and he looked like the Elephant Man afterwards. So disfigurement joined hands with dying.
Then, the thought of the ordeal of chemotherapy or radiation therapy rose up to show me another face of fear.
I thought of something I have learned: most of the things I was afraid would happen never did. Not that dreadful things didn't happen. They did:
My fiancee died, my childhood friend, my mother, my home burned to the ground, and I was forcibly evacuated from my city, not once but twice.
And you know what? The Father saw me through each one of those experiences. He promised to be with us as we walked THROUGH the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
If facing the WORST of your particular fear starts to get to you:
If you start to get a faster heartbeat or sweating palms, the best thing is not to fight it. Stay where you are and simply feel the panic without trying to distract yourself.
Placing the palm of your hand on your stomach and breathing slowly and deeply (no more than 12 breaths a minute) helps soothe the body.
It may take up to an hour, but eventually the panic will go away on its own. The goal is to help the mind get used to coping with panic, which takes the fear of fear away.
3. Don’t expect perfection
Black-and-white perfectionist thinking trips many of us up. Life is full of stresses, yet many of us feel that our lives must be perfect.
Bad days and setbacks will always happen, and it’s essential to remember that life is messy.
Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a place of safety and calm:
it could be a picture of you walking on a beautiful beach, or snuggled up in bed with the cat next to you or a happy memory from childhood.
Let the positive feelings soothe you until you feel more relaxed.
5. Talk about it
Sharing fears takes away a lot of their scariness. If you can’t talk to a partner, friend or family member, call your local helpline.
There are books on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Rational Emotive Therapy.
Dr. David Burns has a grand book: FEELING GOOD: THE NEW MOOD THERAPY -
Only $4.74 for the Kindle edition. What a bargain! It will revolutionize your outlook. Trust me.
6. Go back to basics
A good sleep, a wholesome meal and a walk are often the best cures for anxiety.
The easiest way to fall asleep when worries are spiralling through the mind can be to stop trying to nod off. Instead, try to stay awake.
I find that thanking the Father for the things that went right or the things that made me laugh or smile that day will relax me, and I will drift off to sleep.
7. Reward yourself
Finally, give yourself a treat. When you’ve picked up that spider or made that call you’ve been dreading,
reinforce your success by treating yourself to a candlelit bath, a massage, a country walk, a concert, a meal out, a book, a DVD or whatever little gift makes you happy.
I hope this has helped some of you in some small way. :-)