Have you ever been so afraid of something that your heart felt like it was beating out of your chest? Body shaking so hard it looked like you were living through an earthquake?
No matter what we do, fears will always find us– in our dreams, in school, and even by just thinking and wondering. It’s a part of our daily lives; everyone is afraid of something.
But there are ways to control it. If you’ve ever wondered where phobias come from, and how to deal with them, here are some ways you can live your life without fear.
Where and how our fears affect us
As you may know, fear is a feeling of danger. It can cause changes in behavior, such as running, hiding, or freezing from perceived traumatic events. These experiences can affect your memory in the brain: mostly, your long-term memory, and cause damage to certain parts of the brain.
We have fear so it prepares us to react to danger. Once we sense a potential danger, our body releases hormones that can stop completely or slow down functions in our body that are not needed for survival, like our digestive system. However, it can also sharpener some functions that might help you survive, such as eyesight. Our heart rate increases and blood flows to muscles so there is more energy in the body.
Now that we know where fear comes from, how do we deal with it? Well, since they are a natural response in our bodies, there is no real way to stop them completely. But there are ways to control your reaction to your fears and make your life a lot easier.
Ways to overcome your fears
Our body responds to stress, anxiety, worry and fear by putting pressure on the heart. When you get excited, sad, scared or any other feelings, your heartbeat will start pumping very fast. It happens because our bodies release series of hormones that make our body to go on a hyper-alert and make our blood pressure rise. When this happens, our brain sends signals to our other body parts and warning them. The system in charge of all of this is called the Sympathetic Nervous System – or, the SNS.
Research shows that meditation is a good way to calm your nervous system down. According to Hebert Benson, a medical doctor and founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute:
“The relaxation response (from meditation) helps decrease metabolism, lower blood pressure, and improve heart rate, breathing, and brain waves.”
Research done by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center agrees that meditation produces long-lasting changes in the brain; specifically, the areas that involve attention, learning, and focus. Meditation is one of the things that can help your heartbeat to slow down. It’s a simple way to help your even biggest fears to fade away.
Focus on other things
Our brains always look for something to focus on. The brain works in a certain way that even in your sleep it will always function. Scientifically, the brain is always working, so if you don’t focus on one thing, other memories in your brain will start appearing, and it may stimulate fear.
“They may bring back the memory of the fearful event, or they may cause us to feel afraid without consciously knowing why,” explains Laurie Vazquez, a Science and Technology writer at BigThink. “Because these cues were associated with previous danger, the brain may see them as a predictor of threat,” she adds.
According to How Stuff Works, fear is “a chain reaction in the brain.” The brain is frightened, then sends signals to the body to protect itself. Even when we hear certain sounds related to a specific event, our brain will start thinking about our fears.
So, try to think of something else, and focus your brain on happy thoughts: like your last summer vacation, or a time you hung out with friends at the cinema. Remember: fears cannot exist until we make them real by obsessing over the thought of the fear itself.
The three basics: sleep, diet, and exercise
Fears have symptoms: one of them is that they make you think you can’t control yourself and what you do. But in the end, you’re still the one deciding what you put in your body, how much you exercise and the number of hours you get to sleep. Your diet, fitness, and sleeping hours affects your mental health. According to the Harvard Health publication,
“Treating sleeping disorders may help you alleviate symptoms of mental health problems.”
Research shows that not getting the right food, and the right amount of sleep can lead to higher stress and anxiety. Not exercising enough also contributes to build up tension in the mind and body. It can also affect blood pressure and your brain functioning right. The main issue is that it may lead to your fears escalating. Keep good track of your diet, exercise, and sleep: if you can’t get these three basics right, fear will only continue to take over your life.
If you suffer from a phobia, stop fighting and beating yourself up for it; it’s normal. If you do, fear will only deepen, and you will get angrier at yourself for feeling that way. The path to freedom relies on forgiveness. As quoted by inspirational speaker Steve Maraboli,
“The path to freedom is illuminated by the bridges you have burned, adorned by the ties you have cut, and cleared by the drama you have left behind. Let go. Be free.”
So, to overcome your fears, always remember to think of yourself first. They will only keep showing up if you don’t apologize to yourself and allow yourself to feel.
Fears are challenges we face each day, so we need to learn how to deal with them because they are a part of our lives: but we also need to treat ourselves and our brains correctly too. If you will follow the steps from above you will start realizing that your fears are something that you can vanquish if you do it the right way.