Fear and anxiety are functions of the body that signal danger, threats, or conflicts, and prompt responses. Our responses can be appropriate or adaptive to the situation. There is a distinction between fear and anxiety. Anxiety is a generalized response to an unknown threat or internal conflict. Fear is focused on a known external danger. In language fear and anxiety crossover each other.
We may experience fear of the unknown, fear of an operation, fear of a shopping mall being constructed in our neighborhood. Fear knows no bounds. Anxiety can also be fear of the unknown, or something that arises within us, of which we can’t identify. No matter the cause, there are some actions we can take to diminish their power over us.
- When fear or anxiety rise over a known obstacle or entity, it is important to recognize it as such. That is, give a voice and name your feelings. I feel afraid, I am afraid, I feel anxious, or I am anxious.
- After naming the state you’re in, you can then go a step further and say, Oh, it’s only fear, or oh, it’s just fear. It’s not that you are dismissing your feelings, but rather giving yourself the opportunity to look at them from a philosophical perspective. By doing so you can remove yourself from the initial shock to your system. It’s like looking at it from the outside in.
- If your reaction to the fear or anxiety puts you into a panicky place, you need to get your breathing under control. You can accomplish this by sitting down, closing your eyes, and breathing slowing in to the count of two, and then breathing out to the count of four.
- Distract yourself by making a cup of tea, turning on some uplifting music and taking a walk.. If you are at work, get up from your desk and take a walk to your car and back.
- Allow yourself to be rational about the situation to which you are afraid. Then ask what is the worst outcome that could happen. My friend could die; the company could go bankrupt; I will be without drinking water for the next four months. Even though these scenarios could happen, the more you bring the fear out into the open, the greater the chance for it to diminish.
“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” —Rosa Parks
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