Everyone contends with fear at times. Whether it has to do with finances, health, relationships, or the path of recovery, fear can wiggle its way in. For some people, fear can become debilitating. Right along with fear is anxiety, which can also paralyze people if it becomes severe.
However, there are some tools we can use that can minimize anxiety and fear. The key is learning and actually applying them to your life.
Through this holiday season and heading into the New Year, make a commitment to learn some anxiety and/or fear-reduction skills and use them if you need them. They’ll not only help you in your recovery but also in every area of your life.
Have you ever just sat around and thought about your thoughts?
A thought is just a thought. It’s like a leaf blowing in the wind. The first thing you can do when you start to feel anxious is remember, “I am not my thoughts”.
When you can come to really know that you are not your thoughts, you will experience more peace. But what about beliefs?
Beliefs are simply thoughts that you’ve been thinking over and over. Those beliefs are your feelings.
Fear is a feeling. It’s an emotion that you feel, and it’s largely based on thoughts and beliefs.
So, as you tell yourself, “I am not my thoughts”, also tell yourself, “I am not my feelings”. Telling yourself these things can help minimize the intensity of the feelings. It may not completely take away those feelings, but it can help decrease the intensity.
Granted, sometimes fear is a good thing, like the kind of fear that arises when a snake slithers right in front of you. You may run away or freeze in fear, but this type of reaction serves to protect you. It’s a survival mechanism.
However, fear that arises from thoughts or beliefs may not be based on reality. If this is the case, you can remind yourself that you are not your thoughts or feelings. You can remind yourself that the anxiety and fear you are feeling is not based on reality.
For example, maybe you have some social anxiety, and you feel like you will be rejected if you talk to people. That fear may be based on an irrational thought. Why would someone reject you? And if they do, so what? Their opinion or reaction is solely theirs and doesn’t have to cause your self-worth to decrease.
Start to contemplate how you are not your thoughts and feelings. You may have them, but they are not who you are. Therefore, you don’t have to allow them to paralyze you or bring you down. You can learn to witness and observe them, rather than letting them overtake you.
Jane has a fear of abandonment deep within her that rises to the surface at times. Usually, it’s when she in some sort of conflict with her partner. She will get on a thought and stay on that thought until ultimately, she fears that she will be abandoned. And this petrifies her.
But rather than stay stuck in that cycle, she is learning to catch these types of thoughts earlier.
She visualizes a STOP sign. She will force herself to stop thinking that thought and all the irrational thoughts that follow it.
When you’re feeling fear arise, visualize that STOP sign. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you’re not your thoughts and take a few minutes to decipher where these thoughts are coming from. Are they rational? Are they true? Do you have to ruminate on them, or can you let them go and come back to the present moment?
This takes us to the next tip.
Mental chatter isn’t always a negative thing, but sometimes the mind will dwell on negative or worrisome thoughts and that can lead you to feel very anxious and afraid. Meditation is a wonderful tool that can help you limit the mental chatter that leads to anxiety and fear. Simply taking a few minutes to meditate each day can help you become more of an observer of your thoughts, rather than letting them dictate your emotional state.
Not sure where to start?
There are many helpful videos on YouTube that will teach you how to meditate. There are also guided meditations geared toward reducing anxiety or fear that you may find helpful.
Mindfulness is a technique that can certainly reduce anxiety and fear. Essentially, you focus on your breath in the present moment. Focus on your inhale and exhale, as well as your immediate surroundings and what your five senses are experiencing. It’s paying attention to the “now”, which can help you spend less time thinking those thoughts that may be causing the anxiety.
Slow your pace down. Start being mindful of what you are doing as you do it. Focus on the experiences of eating, brushing your teeth, washing dishes, etc. As you pay attention to what you’re doing, rather than just doing it on autopilot, you limit the thoughts running in your subconscious mind. This can help reduce anxiety and help you enjoy more peace throughout your days.
Counseling can certainly help you learn how to handle a lot of anxiety and fear. A good counselor can be quite effective at helping you learn how to minimize anxiety and/or fear through various techniques. If you feel your anxiety or fear has gotten beyond your control, feel free to make an appointment with a counselor. There are plenty of therapists who are even willing to work with you online via teletherapy sessions.
If finances are a factor, ask them if they offer a sliding fee scale. Getting your anxiety under control can help you in your recovery, as well as other areas of your life.
Life can certainly throw some twists and turns our way, but there are things we can do to minimize anxiety and fear. Take some time to learn about anxiety reduction techniques and practice using them. You may find that some work better than others. That’s alright.
Over time, you will develop your own set of techniques for managing anxiety and fear, and that will make a world of difference in your life.