I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.
~Louisa May Alcott
Halloween is a time to be fascinated with scary thrills and ghostly images. The creative and colorful costumes and expectations of tricks or treats give definition to this hallowing event. While some take advantage of a fun experience with acts of threats such as destroying candy, or clowning around in effort to produce a real fear. Halloween deserves to be a more cautious time in midst of the celebration. However, there are other unpredictable fears that lurks. They are the fears within.
Fear is a threat of danger. It is the base of our anxieties with roots in history. Cavemen who were faced with being prey to a haunting lion, or a potential attack by a tiger faced danger as a way of life. However, we now know that danger comes in other forms. Depending on where one lives, war, politics, economic threat, earthquakes, and threatening weather are potential dangers that loom. More personable are phobias, worries or the loss of a love one. Because threats can lead to insecurities, people attempt to conquer their fears in different ways. Unfortunately, most of these ways lead to a repetitive cycle of repeating the same thing over with no relief of what feels like an impending danger.
Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones. ~Thich Nhat Hanh
The Impact of Fear
Fear is a pervasive condition. Not only is it a feeling, it is a force that impacts many areas of our lives as can be seen below.
Living under constant fear can wreak havoc on our health. Fear creates stress and this stress contributes to cardiovascular disease, weakened immune system, gastrointestinal problems, anxiety attacks, sleep disturbance. Other signs are exhibited are an inability to be calm, shortness of breath, tingling of hands or feet and dry mouth.
Chronic anxiety impairs formation of long-term memories. It can even damage certain parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus which is responsible for memory, emotions, and motivation. Damage to this area creates difficulty in regulating fear and impair improvement of anxiety.
It’s not surprising that chronic anxiety produces clinical depression and anxiety disorders. Depressed mood prevents satisfaction, irritability, and aggravates relationships. Fatigue may follow resulting in an inability to get things done. It’s important to know that it doesn’t matter whether a threat is real or perceived, they impact mental and physical wellbeing.
Often a partner may not understand the difficulties and diminish or blame the partner. Of course this further exasperate the situation. As a result, resentments develop, control issues increase and a resolution becomes harder and harder to overcome. Anxiety is also one of those emotions that is contagious. People around them also pick up on the anxiety in their way. With no resolution, the couple becomes stuck.
Ways to Conquer our fear?
Often we forget that our anxiety is a way of thinking “what if”. What if is thinking in the future. “Will my child get hit by a car?” “Is it going to rain on my event?” “Will I pass the test?” “Will I get the promotion?” “Will he call me back?” “Did I say something to hurt her feelings?” “Will I get it right?” These and many others are thoughts that gently jar our attention. Anxieties from our past often include thinking about “how awful” something is. Statements like: “She rejected me”, “they wouldn’t let me in”, “I did not get accepted”, “I wasn’t good enough”, “That was horrible what they did.” “What if I said something that offended them?” So the question becomes, how do we move toward a more realistic and calmer approach?
Sometimes, repetitive talking over the fearful or traumatic experience promotes the fear rather than alleviating it. In a therapeutic situation a different perspective is sought to reach clarity or to reframe the event can be helpful. See more here regarding anxiety https://changingwayz.com/anxiety-treatment/.
How we forget that the first thing we ever did for life, to live was to breather. Have you ever watched a baby breathe? They breathe through their diaphragm, the correct way. Then they seem to grow up and begin breathing the way we breathe through our chest. And rapid breathing can create a tachycardia, promoting anxiety. We forget to breathe. Find ways to breathe deeply and ward off any worrisome thoughts.
In mindfulness, you welcome the fear. Remember that the more you fight the fear, the bigger it becomes.
Relaxation, such as, mindfulness, deep breathing, muscle progression (hyperlink this), prayer and relaxing activities for the most part is the reverse of the impact of fear is on health. It lowers blood pressure, heart rate, reduces stress, reduces muscle tension and pain
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Response) is a relatively new technique designed to interrupt the looping of traumatic and complicating experiences in the brain.
Clinical Hypnosis is not stage hypnosis. Practicing it requires a certification, advanced education, and years of training to help with a variety of medical and psychological concerns. It can help with phobias and anxiety. It utilizes the subconscious part of the brain to regulate a change in thought and behavior.
When anxiety becomes difficult to manage, medication may be of help. Since some have addictive potential, it is important to work with your physician to help with medical management.
So, this Halloween, why not get out and fight your demons and tame your anxieties. Go trick or treat.
For more help or counseling for phobias and anxieties, contact me at 513-244-6990.