Overcome fear and anxiety and take back your life! You might not realize it, but deep down everyone is afraid.
The big difference between you and all those people you can see who are successful is that they confronted their fears. They worked through their issues to get ahead or went ahead in spite of them.
If you don’t face your fears, you’re likely to miss out on a lot in life.
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic.
My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.
It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes. Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life. You want a quality long life.
My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. As well, there may be affiliate links in this post. Read more here.
What Is The Difference Between Fear and Anxiety?
You may hear people refer to fear and anxiety interchangeably, but they are not the same.
Fear is a response to an actual threat. If you are camping in an area that has had bear sightings in the past, having some fear that a bear could wander into your camp is a real concern.
Plan ahead by hanging your food in a tree and carrying bear spray and an air horn.
Anxiety is the response to an unknown threat. If you are vacationing on a cruise ship and you are afraid of bears wandering in to your cabin, that is anxiety. The threat is not based in current reality.
Fear and anxiety are not mutually exclusive, meaning you can have fear and anxiety at the same time.
They both represent a mental idea of danger, and it is our brains way of protecting us.
And they both trigger the “fight or flight” response, which is your body using cortisol – the stress hormone – to give you the ability to run, fight, climb a tree or generally get away from the threat.
But where fear is based in reality (bears have been seen in the area), anxiety is based on something that could happen in the future.
Why Chronic Anxiety Is Physically Unhealthy
If you have a lot of anxieties, then your body could literally be running on adrenaline all the time.
And that is not good.
In the case of a bear wandering into your camp, your body gives you tools to help you escape i.e the fight-or-flight response.
Cortisol will stop or slow some body functions, while it enhances others to keep needed resources available for survival and life.
- Heart rate is increased to give you speed
- Glucose is dumped into the bloodstream for quick energy
- Digestion, growth, and reproductive functions are slowed down because you need that energy to escape.
- Eyesight and hearing are amplified so that you are aware of any other enemies in the area or to help you see avenues of escape.
Occasional anxiety is fine. But chronic stress and anxiety means your body is living in a situation that not only doesn’t exist in reality, it’s also messing up your body functions.
There are long-term effects to having your body on “high alert” all the time.
- Constant worry
- Inability to relax
- Avoiding people (social anxiety)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, constipation, or both)
It is a good idea to sort through your anxieties and figure out where they stem from and how to eliminate them.
Do you feel like your fears are holding you back in life? You’re not alone.
Whether it’s fear about asking someone out, making a presentation at work, or sharing important feelings with a loved one, fear often holds us back from taking the spotlight we deserve.
One of my favorite movie quotes comes from, of all places, The Avengers: Age of Ultron movie (#geek). Thor is in Norn cave seeking answers and he says to Dr. Eric Selvig:
“The thing I fear contains the thing I need”
This is a powerful statement. What it is saying is that you must pass through your fears to find answers.
So if you fear public speaking, only doing some public speaking will help you squash your fears.
And successfully speaking in public shows you that your fear was not based in reality.
It might have been stressful, but it did not kill you.
Fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real. The easiest way to solve your fear is to dig into to see what it contains.
Yes, scary I know. But you don’t have to jump in with both feet.
If you start slow, with easier tasks, you can build up some quick wins.
And you build up your fear-confronting skill-set, which you can use over and over forever. #win-win.
6 Steps To Help Crush Fears
1. Acknowledge Your Fear
You know what they say…the first step to dealing with a problem is admitting that there is a problem.
Embrace the fact that you have a fear (or fears). Why do you think you have this/these fears?
I know that I don’t like dogs because I was attacked by one as a child. I do not fear dogs, but I really don’t like them.
Do your fears stem from reality?
Start noticing how they make you feel, and the way your body physically reacts when the idea comes up—do you get tense, sweaty, or cold?
2. Challenge the Fear
You may not be ready to step into the ring with your own seven-headed dragons, but start examining your worries and determining their validity.
- Are your thoughts fact, or fantasy?
- What is most likely to happen, given your situation?
- Is there a best and worst case scenario?
You’ll start to see that many of them are nothing more than a scary voice behind a curtain (remember the Wizard of Oz?).
3. Turn the Negative to Positive
Take your fears and think about what the opposite positive outcome would be.
For example, if you have a fear of illness, the opposite of that would be a long, healthy, happy life.
Picture that positive reality, meditate on it, and keep it in your mind’s eye.
4. Turn Off Negative Influences
There are many sources of negativity out there that play on or increase our fears, including most of the things you find in TV and movies.
- The news can be an especially egregious culprit, since they tend to report anything negative.
- Ads can also make you feel incomplete and lacking, which might be part of, or even one of your fears.
5. Make a Promise to Yourself
This one may sound silly, but just tell yourself that you won’t be afraid.
This goes back to “the thing I fear contains the thing I need”. You don’t get the result/thing/skill unless you face the fear.
That doesn’t mean slaying the dragon (yet). It just means figuring out why it’s in your kingdom at all.
Do things that strengthen your resolve to live a life without fear, such as mantras, affirmations, prayer, and surrounding yourself with positive influences.
Related Post: 15 Positive Thinking Tips
6. Confront the Beast
That’s right. Confront your fear.
Are you afraid of death? Visit a cemetery.
Do you have a fear of heights? Skydive.
Afraid of financial ruin? Start giving money to charity.
*This may sound counter-intuitive, but in my experience giving to others reaps multiple other benefits. Try it for yourself.
Of course, you may want to run this approach by loved ones and trusted advisors who will let you know if you’re doing anything foolhardy.
How To Face Your Fears – 4 Tips
Someone once said that one of the saddest ways to sum up life is with
“could have, might have, and should have“.
Don’t let that happen to you.
If you are afraid of asking for a raise or giving a speech, figure out why that is your problem, then work on fixing it.
You have a choice between controlling or being controlled by your fears.
Try these 4 tips for overcoming your fears.
1. Baby steps
No matter what your fears are, from public speaking to mountain climbing, you don’t have to do it all in one go.
Work out what you want to achieve and take baby steps. Each small success will increase your confidence and shrink down that fear.
2. You don’t have to do it alone
No one said you had to hide your fear or overcome it all by yourself.
- Build up a support network of family, friends, and colleagues who’ll have your back and cheer you on.
- Get professional advice from a coach or mentor or buddy up with a friendly colleague.
- If you have anxiety issues that seem overwhelming, get professional help.
Be kind to yourself and get whatever support you need.
3. Accentuate the positive
A positive mindset will go a long way to help dispel fears and worries. A negativity spiral makes things worse, increasing your paralysis and helplessness.
Look around you and actively identify what’s going right in your life.
Change your mindset and expectations to focus on abundance and success.
Half the battle is learning to accept that you deserve success, you deserve to win. You can focus your energy on getting there.
4. Take control of the story
Rewriting your narrative can knock your fears on the head once and for all.
If you see yourself as a competent, successful person, those snippets of self-doubt, that negative self-talk won’t be able to get a toe-hold.
- Take control of your story, decide to be brave, confident and successful.
- Write down all the negative things that go round and round in your head.
- Make a list, and for every bad thing write a positive one.
- Knock down the self-doubt by setting down your skills, your strengths, your good points.
You’ll soon see they outnumber the weaknesses, and you’ll be back in control of your own success story.
Is This Anxiety?
We all have anxiety from time to time, and there’s no shame in that. But is it time to seek some professional help to address the way you’re frequently feeling?
Look at these anxiety symptoms:
Interfering with Life
If your anxiety is frequently preventing you from making decisions in a timely manner…or at all, it might be time to seek some professional help.
I didn’t check my mail for weeks, because I knew I would have to do other things, like go on the internet to pay bills.
It was too much work for my frazzled brain, so I avoided it. Nothing says “interfering with life” like not paying bills.
Moreover, if it’s interfering with your ability to the things you like to do, or that were part of normal routine, you may need help.
Quieting your Voice
If you’re avoiding social situations, interacting with friends and family, and refraining from sharing your thoughts and feelings at work, talk to your doctor. Especially when your contribution is expected.
Your anxiety may be quieting your voice in an unhealthy way, and that’s something you’ll want to address.
You Feel Sick
If you’re worrying so frequently and intensely that you’re occasionally getting physically sick from lack of sleep, stress, or general fatigue, it’s time to address your anxiety with a professional.
Your anxiety may be creating risks to your health. If your worry is chronic, seek help.
You Feel Isolated
Are you feeling like no one understands you? It may be that your anxiety is inducing you to isolate yourself, believe it or not.
I didn’t want to leave my home because “out there” were the people who were trying to squash my dreams. I trusted them to help me, but they only wanted me to live my life their way. Sigh.
Also, if you have qualms about leaving the house (agoraphobia), either because you have anxiety about what might happen outside, or because you’ve been having panic attacks, it’s time to get help.
It Won’t Go Away
Bouts of anxiety are normal, especially since there are a number of events in our work and social lives that can reasonably induce it.
But if your anxiety is lasting several days at a time, or if it just hasn’t gone away, it’s probably time to get some assistance. There are lots of non-drug ways to stop anxiety, mostly involving Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).
You Can’t Enjoy Relationships
A good relationship is bedrock in times of trouble and even just in the general intermittent storm of wrenches that life likes to throw into your plans.
If you can’t enjoy time with your significant other, your kids, or your friends, chances are you need to address your invisible best buddy.
You wake up Anxious
If you start worrying the first thing in the morning, chances are that you went to bed worrying as well.
In my case, my anxiety would wake me up at 4 a.m!
In fact, you may not even have had such a restful night of sleep, given the feelings and thoughts that won’t stop running through your mind.
Consider consulting with an expert to address the anxiety that’s hijacking your day from dawn to dusk.
7 Ways to Deal with Anxiety
Let’s be real: most of us have anxiety to some degree. Whether you experience it frequently or infrequently, here are a few helpful tips for getting centered when the world starts to spin.
Have you ever stopped and just listened to the sound of your own breath?
Try pushing all thoughts out of your mind and only focusing on the sound and feeling of air entering and exiting your body.
When you focus on something so essential and basic, you’ll find yourself centered again.
Create a healthy set of routines for yourself, such as a morning run or meditation session.
The stability created by this daily plan will help anchor you through moments of anxiety, and moreover, it will create a generally less stressful life.
Take a Break From “Un-Reality”
Close out the social media apps and windows on your computer or mobile device.
Take a break from the bombardment of stories, pictures, and advertisements that might be stressing you out.
Try the good old fashioned silence and solicitude of reading a book, or some real-life social interaction.
Is some upcoming event or possible event (such as a planned meeting or running into an ex-partner) stressing you out? Try acting it all out to practice for the future and relax in the present.
Professional athletes and entertainers mentally prepare for big events by playing through the situation in their head. Make the event go well in your mind and you will be ready for it to go well in real life.
For bonus points, you can even act a humorous version of what happen: laughter is sure to lighten the mood.
You may be surprised by this one. After all, how can you just ignore a problem?
But try out just walking away from your thoughts. Watch a movie, take a walk, or bake a pizza—who cares what it is…just do something.
If you can do something active and get out of your current space, that’s even better.
Call a Friend
If you have someone who wouldn’t mind lending a listening ear, give them a call and share your thoughts with them, because sharing your burden with another caring being is really a great way to release anxiety.
Or check your local Yellow Pages to find telephone counselling or your local Mental Health chapter. They can point you towards a helpful listener.
Make a Gratitude List
Start with basic things that you are grateful for, like life, your partner or family, friends, and a place to live.
When you see these important essentials are securely in place, you won’t feel so shaky about the rest of your life.
Is Your Diet Making You Anxious?
You might be surprised that there are also certain foods that can increase or induce states of stress—and even more surprised to learn what some of them are.
Are you drinking a lot of juice throughout the day? Juice, whether from a Tetra pack or frozen concentrate, is not food.
Natural fibers in whole fruit help regulate how quickly your body takes in natural sugar from an orange, apple, or pear. Without the fiber, you’re basically drinking liquid sugar. Ugh.
In fact you can tell that a packaged food is inferior because manufacturers add nutrients.
And what is added is generally poor quality nutrients. Read this article from Ora Organic. I am cutting supplements from my diet. Ewwww.
Your mental health will thank you if you add more unprocessed foods to your diet.
Try to to eat fresh, local, and in-season fruits and veggies to get maximum nutrition at an affordable price.
The very definition of “empty calories”. Soda is sugar water with coloring…zero nutrients.
If you’re looking for the bubble factor, try some of the new flavored sparkling waters that are everywhere now.
I like the Bubly brand with a packet of True Lime added in for a pop of flavor.
White Bread…and Processed Foods
White bread is made from highly processed wheat that results in white flour.
This highly processed “food” quickly turns to sugar in your blood stream, in turn causing energy spikes and crashes that are most certainly not helpful for mitigating anxiety.
In general, highly processed foods have been linked to anxiety and depression more than natural, whole food products.
If you need a cup of Joe to get you going in the morning, that’s certainly understandable.
But if you’re drinking too much coffee, it can make you nervous and jittery, while also messing with your sleep.
Did you know that in extreme cases, some frequent caffeine users have reported hallucinations?
Try drinking coffee only in the morning, and switching to herbal drinks in the afternoon or evening.
You may feel like they give you wings, but they can also give you cardiac palpitations, anxiety, and problems sleeping.
Most brands of “canned energy” have lots of sugar or artificial sweeteners as well.
If you’re looking for a quick boost in energy, try grabbing a natural source — like nuts, cheese, or some low-sugar jerky.
A drink here and there is not so bad, but if you’re turning to alcohol to ease your anxiety, that’s a serious problem.
One drink can provide some health benefits (especially red wine) and help you relax in social settings, but more than that can cause issues with your sleep and your emotions.
As well, when you drink alcohol, your liver processes it first. So if you have a few drinks and a big meal, your food won’t start to be digested until the alcohol is gone.
I hope that this blog post has been helpful to you. I ended up with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks as well as agoraphobia and claustrophobia for a while.
The phobias were the worst of my problems, and I will talk about different phobias in my next post. If that is of interest to you, watch for that.
I share this information because it seemed like my health issues came out of the blue (they didn’t).
Avoiding doing what we really want in favor of doing what we have to can create mental health issues. I will be talking more about this in the future, and what I did to find my true calling in life.
And I’ve never felt calmer and more secure.
Holistic approaches never just address symptoms of specific health problems, but instead aim to return or keep the patient in a state of balanced health between mind, body, and spirit. Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Until next time, here’s to our health!