Do fear and anxiety keep you from dealing with unavoidable situations and emotions? These expert tips will help you overcome a paralyzing pattern of behavior
Tips to Work Through Your Fear and Live Your Life
If you are experiencing overwhelming fear or anxiety, especially a phobia, please consider working with a therapist. Additionally, here are some suggestions that have helped many of my patients work through being hostage to their own fears:
- Allow yourself to sit with your fear for 2-3 minutes at a time. Breathe with it and say, “It’s okay. It feels lousy but emotions are like the ocean—the waves ebb and flow.” Have something nurturing planned immediately after your 2-3 minute sitting period is completed: Call the good friend waiting to hear from you; immerse yourself in an activity you know is enjoyable and engrossing.
- Write down the things you are grateful for. Look at the list when you feel you’re in a bad place. Add to the list.
- Remind yourself that your anxiety is a storehouse of wisdom. Write a letter, “Dear Anxiety, I am no longer intimidated by you. What can you teach me?”
- Exercise. Exercise can refocus you (your mind can only focus on one thing at a time). Whether you go on a short walk, head to a boxing gym for an all-out sweat session, or turn on a 15-minute yoga video at home, exercise is good for you and it will ground you and help you feel more capable.
- Use humor to deflate your worst fears. For instance, what are some ridiculous worst-case scenarios that might happen if you accept an invitation to deliver a speech to a crowd of 500 people? I might pee in my pants at the podium *** I will be arrested for giving the worst speech in history *** My first boyfriend (girlfriend) will be in the audience and heckle me.
- Appreciate your courage. Doreen would tell herself during difficult times, “Every time I don’t allow fear to keep me from doing something that scares me, I am making myself stronger and less likely to let the next fear attack stop me.”
Perhaps the most important coping tool is to be kind to yourself. What advice would you give to a best friend about those negative inner voices that whisper: Be afraid. Don’t try anything new? Do as you advise others—don’t listen to the negativity; be your own best friend. How to overcome anxiety