Fear is a basic, yet powerful emotion. It shows itself to us in many forms; a racing heart, surge of energy, “butterflies” in the stomach. These physical cues usually result from our most primal form of fear that sets off the fight, flight or freeze response. A near miss on the highway, physical confrontation or any number of reasons for our brains to believe we are in danger, cause us to be flooded with adrenaline and other hormones to stimulate us into action-to save our lives.
Unfortunately, our brains can misinterpret situations. This is great for those of us who love the rush of roller coasters or scary movies. It is not great when the idea of public speaking or giving a presentation is met with the same physical response. Giving a speech can be difficult with a dry mouth, racing heart and shaky hands. Typically we’re able to endure these short lived feelings. Although uncomfortable, once the “dangerous” situation is over our system returns to normal. The knot in our stomach goes away, heart rate decreases and we’re able to think more clearly again.
Anxiety, nervousness and stress also stem from fear. Our minds may perceive danger in the form of possibly losing a loved one, rejection by others or the loss of a job. These everyday stressors are unavoidable and part of life. How we handle them, however, can make all the difference.
To ignore or refuse to acknowledge the worry, anxiety or stress you’re experiencing can have long term effects on your body and your health. Here are some tips on how to cope:
1.) Acknowledge and name how you’re feeling. Too many of us fail to recognize the emotions we’re experiencing. If we do not realize we’re feeling something-how can we take steps to calm or soothe ourselves as necessary?
2.) Discover and respect the purpose of your emotion. All emotions have a purpose. They are natural byproducts of having experiences. If you’re nervous or worried-take time to ask yourself what you’re afraid of. Try not to downplay or express negativity (“It’s dumb to feel this way”) about what you may be afraid of, instead acknowledge why you may have this fear.
3.) Engage in self care. Go for a walk, take a bubble bath, watch a funny movie, spend time with people you enjoy, play with your pet. All of these things help reduce the effects of the “stress hormones” and can help improve your problem solving skills.
Sometimes, people experience these emotions more intensely or in ways that make it difficult to perform everyday tasks. Anxiety may turn into full blown panic or fear may end up in a debilitating phobia. In these instances professional help may be necessary. They can be caused by numerous reasons, but often have their roots in some form of trauma. Do you ever feel as if your fears are running your life? Does your mind race constantly with worry, causing you to lose sleep or be unable to enjoy a quiet afternoon? An Orlando licensed mental health counselor can help. Please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment.