Fear is a powerful motivator. In some cases, fear is actually positive. It is what makes us study for a test that is important, and go to work with wet hair instead of being late. It causes people to do things that are frustrating, like children who lie instead of getting into trouble, or adults who “ghost” other adults and stop answering the phone, rather than having to face someone who might be upset over something we have to say. Even now, fear of hurting others drives me to re-write this blog, to re-film my vlog multiple times, just to make sure that I am doing what I want to do: to support those around me from having to continue experiencing fear and sadness.
In light of what is happening in the world, how is it, then, that someone can say do not let fear run your life? For many people, the level of fear that they are experiencing is so high that it is quite literally running their life. Fear should serve a purpose. Fear should help us to make different choices, but it should not run our lives.
It is not my place to tell you not to be fearful. I would never try to pretend that I can understand what your fear is like. What I can say is that if you are fearful, there are things that you can do try to help yourself. Fear causes our body to react. Fear causes our body to release stress hormones, which then lowers the effectiveness of our immune system, it lowers our ability to make logical and healthy choices, and it lowers our ability to engage with those around you. Maintaining your fear in a healthy manner will allow you to be more successful in actually addressing whatever is happening that is causing you to have fear.
1. Take deep breaths. I feel like every suggestion I have in every blog that I have ever written says something like “take deep breaths” at some point in the blog. It works surprisingly well. It might not the first time (although it probably will, if you are doing it right), but it will work if you keep doing it. Keep taking deep breaths, it will help calm your body and it will help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the fancy word for your “calm down” system.
2. Identify what things you can control/do, and control or do those things. There are a million things outside of us that we cannot control, so instead, control the things that we can, which is usually just ourselves. Take good care of yourself, eat healthy food, sleep well, exercise, take care of the things that you own so that you live in a clean and healthy space. Fear is chaos, do not allow yourself to live in that chaos any more than you absolutely have to.
3. Be in community with people who both understand your fear, but also will help you to manage that fear. If you have people in your life who are stoking your fear, question whether or not those are the people you want to be around right now. In our current circumstance in the world, it very much MAY be important for you to be around people who are also fearful and who are actively trying to address their fear. Think of this as a general suggestion, perhaps not applicable to right this moment.
4. Understand that others around you are fearful, and it is important to try to have compassion for those around you. I am not suggesting that you accept others who are hateful, but keeping in mind that we are all human might help your own level of fear.
5. Finally, seek out professional support. If your fear and anxiety is driving you to do unhealthy things, then seek out a therapist, a mentor, a pastor, or someone who is in a position to provide you with support, who you do not have to “support back,” like we do with friends and family.
Generally, I write these blogs at least a week ahead of time. This blog I have written over the course of a few days, and it still is something that is hard for me to post. I recognize the value of this topic, I only hope that people are able to see my goal of just helping people to manage their own feelings, not trying to control others feelings or telling people how to feel. May we all find a way to destroy inequity. #vmscares