There are several ways to overcome fear, anxiety, and stress within you. You must first recognize that these negative emotions are not permanent fixtures in your life. Once you understand that fear, anxiety, and stress are simply feelings that come and go, you can begin to work through them. Secondly, it's important to identify the source of your fear or anxiety: What is making you feel this way? Once you know the cause, you can start to tackle it head-on.
So, what causes these common mental health challenges?
Fear, anxiety and stress all come from a state of mind in which the highs, lows and workload of everyday life can leave you feeling overwhelmed. When facing stress or anxiety your sympathetic nervous system — or “Fight or Flight” response — kicks into overdrive. This activates the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline as well as adrenergic receptors throughout your body, including your brain.
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," said Franklin D. Roosevelt. Fear can cripple our ability to lead productive lives and achieve our goals. It can keep us from starting new things or trying something new, impacting not just our personal lives but our professional ones as well. The good news is that fear can be managed and even overcome altogether with some work and effort.
Here are 12 powerful tips that can help you overcome fear, anxiety and stress.
The first step to overcoming fear is acknowledging it exists. Too often, we try to ignore our fears, pretending they don't bother us or that they won't affect our lives. This approach does nothing but makes fear stronger. The more you try to suppress it, the more control it will have over you. So, start by acknowledging your fear and then move on to the next step.
2. Identify the Cause
The next step in managing fear, anxiety and stress is to identify the cause. There are many potential sources of these negative emotions, and each person’s experience with them can be quite different. Some common causes include work-related stress, money troubles, health concerns, relationship problems and overwhelming life changes in general. Once the cause or causes have been identified, it becomes easier to develop a plan for managing them.
3. Face Your Fears
I know this may sound crazy, but I think you can find freedom from fear. Yes, I mean it. But to achieve such a seemingly impossible feat, you need to first understand that your fears aren't static things — they change and evolve like everything else in life. And more importantly: You have the power to gradually weaken the grip of any fear that's holding you back from achieving something great.
Each one of us feels fear in some form or another. Whether it’s the fear of failure, the fear of abandonment, or the fear of success — there’s always something lurking and ready to pounce whenever we begin to feel vulnerable. What if I told you that facing your fears head-on can be a good thing? That instead of cowering from a potential threat, it would be better to just face it? Cliché as it may sound: Life is lived.
4. Write down what you're afraid of and why
Anxiety, Fear, and Stress can all be mitigated by expressive writing. When you suffer from these afflictions, it is often hard to find the words to express what you are feeling. That's why it is important to start a journal where you simply write down your thoughts and feelings without censoring yourself.
Sharing your feelings by putting them to paper can help you to:
- Better understand your thoughts and emotions.
- Feel more connected to yourself and your surroundings.
- Begin to feel better about yourself and your current circumstances.
5. Do something that scares you every day for a week
Everyone has heard that a sure way to get stronger is by doing the same workout over and over again. But what about your mental strength? Do you believe fear is something that makes you weaker, or that in some cases it could be beneficial for you? Can consciously confronting fears make us better and stronger in every area of our lives, from business to sports, from education to relationships?
Get out of your comfort zone and do something every day that scares you, even if it is small at first. It can be anything from taking a different route to work, to striking up a conversation with the new barista in your favorite coffee shop. Then eventually work your way up to something more adventurous like zip lining. All of these things will build character and might make your fear go away.
6. Connect With Nature
In our fast-paced, constantly-connected world, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by fear, anxiety, and stress. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, these feelings are reported as the most common psychological problems in the United States. While it can be difficult to find the time and energy to connect with others in today's world, connecting with nature can help us to overcome these feelings and improve our overall well-being.
Many of us have jobs that can cause stress and anxiety, manifesting through physical symptoms like headache, muscle pain, and heart palpitations. It can become worse when we feel powerless to change our situation or unable to talk about it. Mindfulness meditation allows you to systematically recognize what situation is causing the problem before it escalates into something more serious.
Meditation also heightens your awareness of the moment. By learning how to sit still, you can manage stress and anxiety. With meditation, you'll be better able to control what else goes on in your mind.
8. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness, while not a new concept, has been gaining traction and attention in the mainstream as a way to deal with stress, anxiety, and fear. The basic premise is that by being more present in the current moment, we can diffuse negative emotions and thought patterns. Recent studies have shown that mindfulness-based interventions result in decreased stress levels, rumination (i.e., dwelling on negative thoughts), and fear of failure. Mindfulness can be practiced through various means, including breath work, guided meditation, yoga and basic exercise.
By practicing mindfulness, we can learn to surf the waves of fear, anxiety and stress instead of being overwhelmed by them. We can also learn to accept these emotions without judgement or resistance.
9. Engage In Activities You Enjoy
One of the best ways to deal with anxiety is by occupying your time with enjoyable activities. Doing something you love allows you to focus on positive emotions and get lost in the moment. This can help take your mind off negative thoughts and make you feel better overall.
Here are a few ideas of activities to try when you’re feeling down:
- Take a walk outdoors
- Write in a journal
- Watch a comedy movie
- Listen to music
- Play with a pet
10. Change Your Mindset
Fear can lead you to feel like you're stuck. It's hard to see past the fog of these negative emotions to think about what positive steps you could take to improve your situation.
It's important to remember that thoughts affect emotions, which in turn affect our behaviors. So by changing your thoughts, you can start to change your emotions and behaviors. When you're feeling fear, it's helpful to:
- Start by acknowledging what you're feeling. Just recognizing and naming the feeling can help you start to break its grip.
- Identify the thoughts that contribute to your fear. These thoughts might be about yourself, others, or the world around you.
- Challenge the negative thoughts. Can you find evidence that disproves them?
- Negative thoughts should be replaced with more optimistic thoughts.
11. Connect With Yourself
Self-care is key when it comes to dealing with and managing stress and anxiety. This includes activities like exercise, journaling, therapy, and spending time with loved ones.
However, for some, stress and anxiety can manifest as a lack of energy, problems with focus and motivation, feelings of worthlessness, and difficulty with handling stressful tasks . If you're struggling with anxiety or stress, it's important to allow yourself time for self-care and relaxation. This may include exercise, spending time outdoors, listening to music or going on lunch dates.
12. Get Adequate Sleep
To function at our best, we must all get enough sleep. That’s a given. But what if you’re struggling with stress, anxiety or fear of something?
In that case, getting enough shut-eye may seem impossible. However, it’s still vital that you try to get to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and create a relaxing environment to prepare for a restful sleep.
Getting enough sleep is especially important, as it can help improve your mood, energy, and focus.
According to the Sleep Foundation, this regularity can help regulate your body’s natural sleep rhythm, which is disrupted in people who are dealing with stress.
If you are battling fear, please know that you are not alone and with the right mindset, you can definitely beat it.
In this article, we discussed 12 powerful tips for overcoming fear, anxiety, and stress. We hope that you find these tips helpful, and that they add value to your life.