Ten ways to fight your fears

Whatever frightens you, here are 10 ways to help you face your fear and anxiety:

1. Take a time out

It seems impossible to think with clarity when you are overwhelmed with fear or anxiety. A racing heart, sweaty palms and a feeling of panic and disorientation all due to the adrenaline. So, the first thing to do is to take some time off so that you can calm down physically.  

Distract yourself from anxiety for 15 minutes by walking around the block, by making a cup of tea, or by taking a shower. When you are physically calm, you will feel better able to decide how best to handle the situation.

2. What is the worst thing that could happen?

When you are anxious about something, be it a job, a relationship or an exam, it can help to think about what could be the worst end result. Even if a presentation, call, or conversation goes horribly wrong, the odds are that you and the world will survive. Sometimes the worst that can happen is a panic attack.

If you start to feel a racing heart or sweaty palms, the best thing is not to fight it. Stay where you are and simply feel the fear without trying to distract yourself. Placing your palm on your stomach and breathing slowly and deeply (no more than 12 times a minute) helps calm the body.

It may take an hour, but eventually the panic will go away on its own. The goal is to help the mind get used to dealing with panic, which removes fear from fear.

3. Expose yourself to fear

Avoiding fears only makes them scarier. If you feel afraid to get into the elevator one day, it is best to return to the elevator the next day. Stand in the elevator and feel the fear until it disappears. Whatever your fear, if you confront it, it should start to fade.

4. Say hello to the worst

Each time a fear is brought up, it is easier to deal with the next time it occurs, so that it is not ultimately a problem in itself. Try to imagine the worst thing that could happen – maybe something scary and trigger a heart attack. Then try to think that you have had a heart attack. It just isn’t possible. The fear will disappear as you track it down.

5. Be realistic

Fears tend to be much worse than reality. Often times, people who have been assaulted do not think they will experience it again every time they walk down a dark alley. In reality, however, the probability of a second assault is very low.

Likewise, people sometimes tell themselves that they are failures because they blush when they are ashamed. This makes them feel more uncomfortable. But redness in stressful situations is normal. With this in mind, anxiety is gone.

6. Don’t expect perfection

Black-and-white perfectionist thinking like, “If I’m not the best mother in the world then I’m a failure,” or “My DVDs don’t all turn in the same direction, so my life is a mess,” is unrealistic and only exposes us to anxiety.

Life is full of stress, yet many of us feel that our lives should be perfect. Bad days and setbacks will always happen, and it is imperative to remember that life is a mess.  

7. Imagine

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine a peaceful, safe place: it could be a picture of you walking on the beautiful beach, cuddling in bed with the cat next to you, or a happy memory from childhood. Let the positive emotions soothe you until you feel more relaxed.

8. Talk about it

Sharing fears removes a great deal of her intimidation. Try to talk to a partner, friend, or family member. If your concerns do not go away, seek your doctor’s help. Doctors can refer people for counseling or psychotherapy.

9. Go back to basics

A good sleep, a healthy meal and a walk is often the best treatment for anxiety. The easiest way to fall asleep when fears are rising in your mind may be to stop trying to fall asleep. Instead, try to stay awake.

Many people turn to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate for anxiety, as they assume that this will make them feel better, but that it will only make the nervous tension worse. On the other hand, eating well will make you feel great, both physically and mentally.

10. Reward yourself

Finally, give yourself a reward. When you catch that spider or make that call you were dreading, reinforce your success by rewarding yourself with a candlelit bath, a massage, a walk, a concert, an out-of-home meal, a book, a DVD, or whatever little gift that makes you happy.