Killer Fear

How accepting things as they are can be an antidote to worry

Photo by metamorworks

Adrenaline high

The deceptive thing about fear is that, because of its biochemical response, fear can feel exciting. In our stressful society, we become accustomed to the high of the adrenaline rush of fear and think it normal. But it’s not. In fact, when our experiences regularly trigger the release of adrenaline, fear can kill us.

Fear colors our perceptions, which create our beliefs

Not only is fear bad for our health, it colors our perception of reality. While we like to think that reality is an objective fact, we actually see the world not as it is, but as we are. That’s why everything looks bad when we’re depressed, and wonderful when we’re happy. We perceive the world through the filter of our beliefs.

Addicted to fear

If fear perpetuates more fear, then how do we change our relationship to fear? How do we respond to the overstimulation of the modern media? Are there news sources that do not trigger a release of adrenaline? Can we set boundaries on some or all media? Are we careful about the types of media we allow to affect us? About what media our children are exposed to? How do we protect ourselves from psychic overload? And, perhaps most importantly, do we recognize when we have experienced a stressful situation or have been in a prolonged state of fear, and then give ourselves time to calm down, rest, and recuperate? Or are we, along with so many others, simply addicted to fear?

Accepting things as they are is an antidote to fear

Fear is often accompanied by worry, but worry is absent when we’re lost in the moment — so it’s helpful to cultivate practices and thinking that help us maintain a moment-by-moment focus. Meditation, yoga, biofeedback, and visualization are such practices. Here’s a Six Point Body Scan you can use to get back in the moment.

  • Bring you attention to your body.
  • Notice whatever sensations you are feeling right now.
  • Accept these sensations as they are, feel them, rest into what is.
  • Bring awareness to your feet. Take three to five breaths as you notice your feet.
  • Bring awareness to your knees. Take three to five breaths as you notice your knees.
  • Bring awareness to your hips. Take three to five breaths as you notice your hips.
  • Bring awareness to your belly and lower back. Take three to five breaths as you notice your belly and lower back.
  • Bring awareness to the area of your heart. Take three to five breaths as you notice your heart center.
  • Bring awareness to your face, head and neck. Take three to five breaths as you notice your face, head and neck.
  • Notice all the sensations of your body. Be still for at least three to five full breaths. Just notice your breathing and your body. Let your thoughts be as they are. Don’t judge them.

Other antidotes to fear

Whether it’s fear of something imagined — a terrorist attack, financial ruin, falling meteors — or of an emergency actually taking place in the present moment, like the pandemic, there are things we can do to escape the grip of fear and therefore bring more oxygen to our brains so that we can think more clearly and make better decisions. Here are some things to do:

Peggy O’Mara is an award winning writer and editor. She was the Editor and Publisher of Mothering Magazine for 30 years. Her focus: Family, Health, Justice.

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