Did you know that the emotion of fear may play an inordinate role in your life? In fact, did you know that recent studies show that being scared to death can either make you sick or actually even cause death in extreme cases?
If you take a moment to think about it, when was the last time you experienced fear or extreme terror? Was the experience of your fear recent? Or was it long ago? If you’re honest with yourself, most likely just like most others, you may have experienced some type of fear in the recent past, e.g. last 6 months which stopped you in your tracks or caused you severe worry.
Notice that when you recall being afraid, if the event was traumatic enough, it may feel just like it had happened! It’s “fresh” in your mind or memory. Importantly, even when a fear event—negative valence traumatic memory—happened long ago, if that memory was traumatic enough, e.g. you were terrorized, then you may still re-experience that memory as being palpably real in the present.
How can this be? Well, that’s one of the main features of the human mind: fear based traumas tend to be deeply grooved into your brain as a survival mechanism.
A most important brain region in regards to fear is the amygdala. You may have heard of this brain region before since it is a key alarm center in the brain with connections to almost every part of our central nervous system including your brain’s hippocampus. This is where long term memories are created and stored via long term potentiation.
Unfortunately, it makes no difference whether a perceived threat which made you feel afraid was real or imagined since your body responds in the same way. Also, when you feel fear, your brain activates your stress response system, readying the body for “fight or flight.”
Whenever you continually experience or re-experience fear or terror, your acute stress can be transformed into chronic stress. This increases your chances of falling ill or experiencing disease states since your immune response is lowered due to overactivation.
Of course, we all know what it feels like to be afraid or feel fearful but how do we get rid of our fears? What can we do? There are many approaches to effectively deal with our fears so that they are either minimized or eliminated.
Seeking out the services of a professional therapist or mental health counselor is one option you may want to consider. Of course, the most obvious place to start is to determine whether your fear is “real” or created (imagined).
For instance, if you notice that there are falling bricks from the overhead building scaffolding as you walk to work, your fear of being hit by a falling brick, may well be a real one. In this case, perhaps the best and most obvious strategy would be to change your walking route so that you avoid that street altogether.
Thus, such a fear could be eliminated by changing your walking route. Although this example may seem too “obvious” or “simple” in its solution, you may be surprised to learn that sometimes you may not always see “obvious” solutions. Also, often you may be faced with conflicting goals: if you change the route or the way you walk to work, perhaps taking an alternate route may make you late for work.
The prospect of being late for work and the real or imagine consequences of workplace lateness—being reprimanded or worse fired—can set up a worrying scenario in your mind and thus stress and anxiety can build up in your system just by considering these options. On the otherhand, when you consider how your schedule might need to be adjusted in order to take the “safe” new route—you may have to get up 30 minutes earlier or skip your 2nd cup of coffee or run for the bus—such are the choices you may often face in life so learning how to manage your fears can bring you high levels of stress and anxiety relief.
Let’s take an opposite example of how you can deal with your fears. Let’s say you were regularly emotionally and verbally assaulted by a loved one or family member long ago. Most people can relate to this type of example since they have either personally been berated or bullied, e.g. high school or at least know someone who was emotionally traumatized and/or taunted in a way which made them feel “less than” or unworthy.
June Davidson, CEO and President of American Seminar Leaders Association (ASLA) has developed an elegantly simply way to eviscerate and dissolve fear. Her Brain Pattern Interrupt (BPI) technique uses your sense of smell to unwind and change your most powerfully negative and painful fear memories such that they can first be neutralized then changed to a positive valence.
You can learn more about the wonderful work that June Davidson does to coach individuals to higher levels of success including learn how to reduce their core stress and grief by going to her website www.asla.com
Did you know that during an average day, most people experience bouts of anxiety? Did you know that for some individuals who experience anxiety in its most extreme form—panic attacks or obsessive worrying—are never able to fully relax or feel calm since their mind tends to focus attention upon what may go wrong or what bad thing may happen next?
Does this look, sound or feel all too familiar to you or have you ever experienced bouts of anxiety which led to a panic attack? If so, you’ll want to continue reading so that you can learn more about anxiety and its potential effects on you or those you care about and love.
Did you know that some people who experience high levels of anxiety wrestle with extreme forms of perfectionism? That is, in their attempt to future pace or anticipate future events correctly they seem never to be comfortable within their own skins. Perhaps you too have had to wrestle with aspects of being a perfectionist. Ask yourself these questions, “Do I insist that everything or almost everything be done to perfection?” “Or, do I trying to control and make perfect things which are outside of my control so I worry a lot?” Do I spend a lot of time worrying about what may go wrong instead of what is going right?”
While future pacing and planning ahead are certainly helpful and very desirable skills to have, when perfectionism enters the picture in extreme forms these types are usually “looking ahead,” almost never living in the present moment of NOW. This can create undue, unnecessary, and unrelenting levels of stress, worry and anxiety since it is only when you attend to the present moment that you can experience peace of mind or that state where inner peace resides.
What is anxiety?
There are many theories about what anxiety is or is not. Some theorist such as Bowlby say that undue anxiety is caused by unresolved and unsatisfactory attachment issues surrounding a child’s relationship with his or her mother. Anxiety in this view results when a child is pulled away from his or her nurturing source (mother) such that he or she does not feel safe.
The resultant emotional upset, if not soothed away, becomes imbedded in the child’s nervous system as a form of unrequited fear. If this anxiety is not somehow addressed or discharged, it lodges itself within your nervous system as anxiety.
Other research indicates that anxiety may have a neurobiological origin. These researchers point out that some part of the brain or central nervous system may not be functioning properly which causes extra stress neurochemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline to pour into the bloodstream and rise to usually high or unhealthy levels.
Other psychological studies conclude that anxiety is a pathological disease state. Some of these studies say that the source of anxiety may begin during pregnancy due to negative environmental impacts the mother may experience. An alternate psychological view concludes that the source of anxiety may be due to an overactive startle reflex which is activated during pregnancy or infancy.
Whatever the cause or source of anxiety may be, it is clear that it simply does not feel good to those who experience it! If that is you, then you “know” the truth of that statement based upon personal experience. You don’t need to be “convinced” that your anxiety is “real” and not just in your head as a figment of your imagination.
Who experiences anxiety?
If we are honest, almost all of us experience anxiety at some point in our lives. It’s simply a matter of degree. Think about it, you may have experienced anxiety as a low level vague feeling of unease where you simply can’t put your finger on the source of your discomfort.
Or, you may experience anxiety in an opposite way, as a racing heartbeat, flushed face, or even as a panic attack! On the other hand, if you are the type to worry constantly about what may go wrong during your day, then anxiety may be your constant and familiar companion.
Regardless of the degree to which you experience anxiety, it is important to recognize its existence and develop tools to deal with it. Of course, an obvious approach is to seek professional medical or therapeutic assistance if your anxiety is extreme in nature.
You should be aware that just like stress, there is “good” anxiety and “bad” anxiety. Good anxiety can be a helpful survival mechanism since it serves as a warning signal of danger. When you pay attention to good anxiety, it may keep you from engaging in risky behaviors or simply doing something stupid, e.g. getting into a car with a person who is drunk or may be intent on drag racing, or your anxiety helps you to decide (wisely) not to get into an altercation with someone who is physically larger or stronger than yourself.
On the other hand, “bad” anxiety is something you should pay attention to so that you can work to eliminate it should you be able to identify its source. Using the Open Focus technique, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and hypnosis are three methods you may want to consider which can help you address the sources of your anxiety.
The main point here is that it is a good idea for you begin to acknowledge that anxiety may be a challenging issue you need to deal with so that you can wisely mature, grow, and progress. Finding the right tools to address the sources of your anxiety rather than just its symptoms will help you become more resilient so that you are in a better position to address any future life challenges which may come your way.
Ways to Prevent Stress
While various stress reduction methods can definitely help you minimize the symptoms of stress in your life, the next step is to effectively deal with underlying causation issues. This would include identifying the sources of your lifestyle stress.
Below are some strategies which can help you develop ways to prevent excessive stress build up before it becomes a problem in your life:
- Reduce your job stress to avoid burnout.
- Reduce over scheduling and allow for “free” or unplanned time in your schedule.
- Examine and reduce your negative self talk. This includes altering your internal dialogue and world views to focus upon the positive energy and experience in your environment.
- Reduce clutter by becoming more organize at work and home. Create “Sanctuaries” from stress at work and home.
- Become a skilled communicator and negotiator.
- Learn NLP techniques to reduce miscommunication and conflict between yourself and others.
Examples of medical conditions either caused by or exacerbated by stress:
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic pain
- Depression Diabetes
- Eating Disorders
- High Blood Pressure
- Irritable Bowel syndrome
- Loss of Sex Drive
- Migraine Headache
- Peptic Ulcer
- Skin Problems, i.e. hives, eczema
- Substance Abuse
- Weight Gain or Loss
Examples of Highly Stressful Life Changes and Events:
- Death of Spouse or significant other
- Legal Marriage Separation
- Being Arrested or Jailed
- Death of a Close Relative
- Serious Illness, Injury or Disease
- Engagement and/or Marriage
- Job Termination
- Reconciliation with Spouse or Significant Other
- Retirement from Job or Career
- Child Leaving Home
- Planned or Unplanned Pregnancy
- Relocation to Another City or Country
- Career Change
- Graduating from High School or College
- Racial and/or Sexual Discrimination or Harassment
- Dysfunctional Relationships
- Care of Chronically or Terminally Ill Family Member
- Isolation and Lack of Social Support System
- Change in Working Conditions or Hours or Responsibilities
- Spouse begins or Ceases Working
- Change in Schools
- Change in Financial Status
- Change in Sleeping Habits
- Change in Eating Habits
- New Debt
Some known ways to reduce or minimize anxiety, pain, and stress:
- Adequate sleep including eliminating sleep deficit
- Autogenic Relaxation
- Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Guided Mental Imagery
- Laughter Therapy
- Music Therapy
- Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)