I’ve written quite a bit about fear on this blog, see links below, and thought a mnemonic tool-F.A.S.T.-would be an easy way to remember four different strategies for dealing with it.
Free Yourself: Replace fearful thoughts with loving kindness ones. Instead of obsessing over developing an illness or the fear of death, think “May I be free from my fear of illness. May I be free from my fear of death.” Freedom From Fear
Avoid/Reduce Fear Triggers: Limit exposure to people, places, things and situations that trigger your fears. If being around snakes makes you fearful, a trip to the reptile house probably isn’t a good idea. Engaging continually in social and news media makes people highly anxious and irrationally afraid. Reduce your intake and take vacations from it all together-particularly the internet.
That noted, fears should not limit enjoyment in life. If you refuse to go on a family outing with the kids to the zoo, because there might be a snake, you are letting your fear get in the way.
There are situations, like going to the doctors, or being around people, such as your boss, that are fear producing but you can’t avoid them. In addition to the S.T.O.P exercise below, check out How to Handle Fears for some clear steps in dealing with these types of situations.
• Stop what you are doing.
• Take a breath: Breath in for a count of 4, hold the breathe for a count of 7, and let it out for a count of 8. Do 4 sets of this breathing. Use whatever counts you want as long as the out breath is longer than the in breath. The breathing will help your brain calm down so you can look at the situation from a calmer perspective.
• Observe realistically. Ground yourself in the present, not obsessing about past or future. Understand what you have control over and what you don’t.
• Proceed, and with positive thoughts.
Take a Break: Engage the hands and body and make something. Creating causes the brain to secrete dopamine and helps to control the fear chemicals that long term can harm us. Meditation is another option as it to reduces the “fight-or-flight” response. Finally, get moving. Exercise, even a walk around the block, can help reduce the anxiety and stress that comes from fear. Remember every Wednesday is “take a break” day on Healing Whole. Now maybe a good time to check out the Pinterest site for Take a Break.
Other Posts on Fear
Getting Perspective on Fear (understand why we are fearful and some strategies for coping).