What Is Fear? What does it feel like? How is it caused? In this post, we’ll be offering helpful tips for overcoming fear.
What Is Fear and Dread?
Fear is an unpleasant emotion or feeling of dread. It’s triggered by the belief that someone or something is a threat or likely cause pain.
Everyone will face fear at one point in their lives. Despite being considered a negative emotion, fear plays a role in keeping you safe.
Feelings of dread that come with facing a fearful situation. It’s a natural sign that warns you of a potentially bad situation. Fear becomes unnatural when you’re feeling it all the time.
Fear And Anxiety Are Interrelated
Anxiety is a feeling of worry and being nervous as well as feeling uneasy.
Anxiety is that feeling of dread that happens when you’re faced with a fearful situation.
It’s true that fear and anxiety are interrelated. Anxiety is a reaction to something that’s potentially dangerous. Also, feeling dread is a stop-reaction to the impulses that fear and other emotions create inside your body.
The relationship between fear and anxiety is part of your body’s fight-or-flight response.
What Is The Fight-Or Flight Response?
The fight-or-flight response is your body’s automatic response to stress. It’s your survival mechanism that enables you to fight a threat off or flee it safely.
The part of your brain called the amygdala activates your fight-or-flight response.
The amygdala’s main job is to regulate your emotions. Along with fear and anxiety, it regulates other emotions such as anger and sadness. Facing something fearful or stressful causes the amygdala to release different brain chemicals. Examples include serotonin as well as norepinephrine and dopamine.
An overactive amygdala plays a role in different mental disorders, include PTSD as well as bipolar disorder. As a result, the fight-or-flight response is on overdrive.
Here’s a related post: “Tips For Helping A Bipolar Brain!”
What Happens When You Feel Too Much Fear And Dread?
Fear is a natural response to anything seen as dangerous as well as unknown. A big life event or even the buildup of smaller life events may trigger anxiety. For example, work stress as well as ongoing financial stress or a death in the family. These events may be happening short term or you may feel long-term dread toward them.
As soon as your body recognizes fear, your amygdala goes to work. It alerts your nervous system, which sets your body’s fear response into motion. Along with brain chemicals, the amygdala also releases stress hormones like cortisol as well as adrenaline.
Some people live in fear all the time. In the short term, facing fear affects your mind and body. However, living in fear all the time has long term affects on not only your physical health, but also your mental health.
What Fear Does To Your Physical Health?
Facing fear and dread causes problems short term. It may cause a faster than normal heart rate, sweating and chills as well as shortness of breath.
In the long term, living in a constant state of fear and dread weakens your immune system as well as heart issues. Also, you may have gut issues such as ulcers and also irritable bowel syndrome. The stress hormone cortisol leads to weight gain overtime. Also, it speeds up the ageing process and even causes premature death.
What Fear Does To Your Mental Health?
In the short term term, fear and dread can stop the processes in our brains that regulate emotions. Also, you may have a harder time reading non-verbal cues and also other information given to you. It negatively impacts your ability to think clearly and make decisions.
The stress from a fearful event leads to mental health problems. Occasional anxiety is normal short term, but long term feelings of dread may lead to sleep problems, addiction problems as well as depression.
If you have a diagnosed mental health disorder like PTSD or bipolar disorder, living in constant fear may trigger symptoms and feel like gasoline being dumped on the mental health fire. Also, it can lead to panic attacks.
Here’s a related post: “How To Stop A Panic Attack”
Helpful Tips For Overcoming Fear
Here’s some good news, you don’t have to live in fear. Also, you don’t have to face dread when you don’t want to do something. Instead, you can cope and face a fearful situation in healthy ways.
Tip # 1: Talk To Your Doctor About How You Feel.
There’s a chance that living in a constant state of fear is due to a mental disorder. It can be managed with medication as well as therapy.
There’s a tangible benefit that includes reduced anxiety.
Tip # 2: Take Some Time To Face Your Fears.
If you dread public speaking it helps to slowly expose yourself to speaking in front of large crowds. Start by speaking in front of a group of friends and family, once you’re more comfortable then talk in front of strangers. Finally, when you’re comfortable enough, speak in public by giving a speech.
Another good example is getting over a fear of being around other people. Social anxiety is a feeling of dread that happens when you’re socializing. It’s due to the preoccupation of what other people think of you as well as a fear of rejection. A helpful tip for overcoming this fear is to expose yourself to social situations regardless of how scary they are. You’ll find yourself becoming less anxious overtime.
Here’s a related post: “How To Overcome Social Anxiety”
Tip # 3: Focus On Your Breathing.
When you focus on deep breathing exercises, you’re activating your body’s parasympathetic nervous system. It’s a system that not only lowers your heart rate, but also helps you relax.
Deep breathing is also known as belly breathing. It involves focusing on your stomach, abdominal muscles as well as your diaphragm when you’re breathing. This means you’re actively pulling down on your diaphragm every time you breath in.
Tip #4: Be More Proactive
It’s vital to take a proactive approach when you’re going to face something you fear and dread. For example, if you’re anticipating something you’re scared of or you don’t want to do, taking a proactive approach not only minimizes unpleasant symptoms but helps cope with them when they do happen.
Let’s use being at the airport as an example, it’s one of the most stressful parts of traveling. There’s an underlying fear that something will go wrong and you dread not only going there, but being there. It helps to get to the airport early, if something goes wrong like a delay at a checkpoint or bad traffic, you’ll be more relaxed vs. if you get to the airport right before your flight takes off.
How Do You Overcome Fear?
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