How to Deal with Fear and Anxiety

painting of anxiety in the mind's eye

chronic%20anxiety%20manIn this section we address things you can do on your own to work with fear and anxiety. We do not cover the many valuable techniques and therapies available when working with professional psychologists or other providers. These are essential for those who have experienced trauma or are suffering from intense fear or anxiety.

Avoid avoidance

The only way to deal with fear is to face it. Avoiding our fears only prevents us from moving forward—it makes us anxious. But be gentle with yourself and do only what feels safe to you!  If you find yourself getting more panicky, take a break and find something pleasant or comforting to notice or do. If it feels safe later, you can try to explore your fear again, taking breaks as needed. If you find it difficult to address chronic fears or anxiety on your own, note that therapists can be invaluable in helping work through avoiding strategies. If you have experienced trauma, it is especially important to work with a therapist to create a safe environment where you can face your fear and reconstruct your memories.  

If the fear or anxiety is milder, you can try mindfulness meditationLearn more about mindfulness techniques.  All you need to do is sit quietly and observe the present moment. If fear or anxiety arises, recognize it. If you can, be curious. Observe the anxiety. Notice how it feels in your body. Notice any associated thoughts.  See if you can observe it as it is; don’t  get involved in the story, or try to get rid of it or change it.   And when you need, take a break and turn your attention to something neutral, like your breath or hands in your lap.  Note that anytime you feel too agitated to be curious, it may be best to stop and open your eyes and notice objects in the room, or take a little walk.