Fear and anxiety can become debilitating.
It is normal to feel anxious and afraid sometimes – we all do. These emotions can be seen as warning signs which alert us that what we are about to do may be dangerous or harmful to us. However, these feelings can also be felt when you are not in any real danger; for example, you may feel anxious and afraid before taking an exam, speaking in public, going to an interview, etc. This is because fear is a reaction to both real and perceived threats. Feelings of fear and anxiety tend to be short-lived; however, in some cases, they can last for longer periods and become debilitating. That is, these emotions can begin to limit you as you might find yourself avoiding doing things that cause you fear and anxiety. Put differently, you may end up missing out on good opportunities or even isolating yourself from society.
What are the symptoms of fear and anxiety?
Your body and mind tend to work extremely fast when you are in a state of fear and anxiety.
Some of the symptoms include:
- Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling dizzy
- Feeling paralyzed
- Changes in appetite
- Stomach discomfort
What can you do to help yourself overcome these feelings?
To ensure that you do not let these emotions rule your life, you need to work hard to regain control. The journey will be difficult and it will often make you feel afraid, anxious, and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it is important to learn how to cope with and overcome fear and anxiety before these feelings become destructive.
1. Do not identify with your feelings
Notice how you talk and pay attention to the words you use when talking about how you feel. When you say things like “my anxiety” or “I am an anxious person”, you are identifying with these feelings and making them a part of who you are. This only enables you and makes it more difficult for you to see yourself differently. Anxiety and fear are things we feel, not things that we are. Therefore, instead of saying “I am an anxious person” try saying “I sometimes feel anxious”. By doing so, rather than identifying with these feelings, you are creating distance and separating who you are from what you feel.
According to Lifehack writer, Daina Worrall, visualization can help you overcome feelings of fear and anxiety. The act of visualization refers to meditating and working hard on imagining a clear, vivid image of who you want to be and how you want to feel. In other words, visualizing yourself as a confident, comfortable, and carefree person can change your mindset and allow you to eventually achieve the visualized goal.
3. Gain a deeper understanding of yourself
Pay attention to your emotions and thoughts as often as you can. In doing so, you will be able to begin to notice the moment in which your mood begins to gradually dip as anxiety and fear begin to grow; this will allow you to identify the triggers which fuel your negative feelings and will help you find ways of dealing with these triggers healthily. Many people find it helpful to carry a diary in which they can note what they feel, how they felt it, and what caused it. By gaining a deeper understanding of yourself, you become better equipped to deal with the emotions which you feel.
This method is somewhat controversial but Worrall suggests that it is one of the most effective ways to reprogram your subconscious mind. She goes further as she explains that during this trance-like state, “your brain waves shift from beta to alpha, meaning your subconscious mind is open and willing to listen to new thoughts and ideas”. For those who are interested in trying this method, Worrall sates that you can easily find resources online or find a certified hypnotherapist/RTT therapist.
Know when to seek help
It is important to remember that the above techniques only discuss mindset shifts. This means that the article omits various other things – such as physical exercise, lifestyle changes, breathing exercises, and grounding techniques – which one can use to try to alleviate feelings of fear and anxiety. If, however, you have tried multiple things and still find that you struggle immensely, you might consider finding a professional who will be better equipped to help you overcome your fear and anxiety.