Fear is a typical human emotion that can be overwhelming, implementing strategies to cope with fear may provide relief.
If you have difficulty facing your fears, you are not alone. Fear can activate a physiological response in our bodies that leave us feeling overwhelmed.
Fear may make you feel hopeless or like you have no control over yourself when emotions run high. But identifying and evaluating your fear may help you cope with your fears.
You can learn how to face your fear and implement healthy coping strategies.
It’s natural to want to avoid things that scare you. But most of the time, avoiding your fears only causes more anxiety because it continues to grow in your mind.
When this happens, you may be even more fearful the next time the situation arises. So how should you decide whether to face your fear or avoid it?
Facing your fears is healthy most of the time. But there may be situations where dealing with fear may put you in danger or cause harm to you or someone else. Such as feeling fearful of walking alone at night.
In that case, avoiding what causes fear may be ideal. In these situations, you may be experiencing a rational threat to your safety or the safety of others.
What’s the difference between fear and phobia?
Fear and phobias are closely related. Fear is an emotion you experience when you face a threat. Sometimes fear can be an imminent danger or perceived as danger.
Phobias involve excessive fear or anxiety related to a specific situation or object that impacts your daily life. Phobias often elicit anxiety or fear that may be out of proportion to the actual danger, but how you feel is valid.
For example, some people are afraid of flying in an airplane. But the risk of crashing in an aircraft is relatively low compared with other modes of transportation.
1. Make an action plan to face your fear
Facing your fears makes them less threatening the next time you deal with the situation. It can be tough to face your fears if you are emotionally overwhelmed. Creating an action plan through gradual exposure may help if you’re fearful.
For example, an action plan for gradual exposure to the fear of public speaking at an event may look like this:
- developing your speech with an audience in mind
- practicing your speech alone in the comfort of your home
- practicing your speech in front of a small group
- imagining yourself on stage giving your speech with a positive outcome
- going to the place you have to give the speech and getting familiar with it
- practicing your speech at the venue (if possible)
- delivering your speech at the event
These steps can help the final speech feel less intimidating because you have worked up to it.
Practicing mindfulness is a great way to overcome fear. Mindfulness is about having intentional awareness of the present moment.
3. Practice deep breathing
Deep breathing has a variety of benefits. When emotions flood you during a fear response, deep breathing can promote relaxation and provide a sense of calm.
- self-reported pain levels
- physiological activation
Deep breathing can help reduce fear’s physiological activation and help you feel calmer.
4. Try progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is the act of tensing and releasing muscles in your body. Fear and anxiety often can cause you to feel tense, and PMR can help alleviate tension and promote a state of relaxation.
2021 research indicates that this skill improves relaxation states at both a psychological and physiological level.
5. Find humor in the situation
One method of lightening the fear is making it funny. Suppose you can find a way to crack a joke about the situation or find humor in the fearful situation.
It can help elicit different emotions surrounding the fearful stimuli and make it less intimidating.
6. Seek professional help
If you have difficulty implementing strategies to overcome fear, it may be time to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you learn how to cope with your fears healthily.
Fear can be debilitating and overwhelming. If you find that fear controls your life, you may seek help from a mental health professional such as a licensed counselor or psychologist.
Therapy can help you face your fears by learning coping mechanisms and strategies for confronting your fear.
If you are considering therapy, you may consider these types of treatment for dealing with fear:
- exposure therapy
- cognitive behavioral therapy
- acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
Fear is a natural human emotion that we all face at some point. Fear can warn us of real danger and help protect us. Unfortunately, fear can also be debilitating and out of proportion to the perceived threat.
There are many strategies you can implement to help navigate fear. Sometimes therapy to work through anxiety and identify the root causes of fear may be necessary.
Finding a therapist who provides behavioral therapy that is useful for dealing with fear may be helpful. Remember, you can face your fears; it may take some practice and a plan.