THE BLOG

Ten Steps To Cope With Fear

25/09/2017 17:31 BST | Updated 25/09/2017 17:31 BST

For many of us these are frightening times. Whoever you are, wherever you live, there will be something of concern to you: globally or locally, in your country or society, in your home or in yourself. Here are 10 steps to help you through.

1. Don't deny your fear. It doesn't make it go away.

Not to deny our fear can take courage and is not a sign of weakness. It is the smart thing to do.

We cannot deal with our fear, if we pretend we are not frightened, when we are. This can lead to a powerful sense of anxiety, vulnerability and imbalance. It can eat away at us, and we may not even notice it at first.

2. Acknowledging your fear doesn't mean you are giving in to it.

Especially at times of threat and alarm, it is important to acknowledge that "fear" is real and valid. It can keep us on our toes and safe.

In the long-run not acknowledging fear, can make our fear worse, and we end up feeling like a helpless victim with little control and choice.

3. Fear is not a sign of weakness.

Being frightened is not a sign of failure or something to be ashamed of. How we choose to deal with frightening times, that's what matters.

4. Reality check whether the fear you feel is justified, or not.

Sometimes fear can feel real, even though we are not being threatened. For some reason we may have developed a kind of siege mentality, and then we need help to regulate our sense of fear.

If, on balance, you believe your fear is justified, then what are you going to do about it? Do you need help or is it something you can work out yourself?

5. Sense-check your fear responses.

What will be the consequences of what you choose to do as a result of your fear? Will you end up feeling more or less frightened?

Make sure your decisions are not counter-productive further down the line.

6. Avoid hysteria.

Talking about our fears and listening to the concerns of others can be very helpful. It can make us feel not alone and gives us a chance to think through ways of dealing with our fear.

However, this is best done in an appropriate atmosphere; one which does not fuel our fear and can lead to hysteria.

7. Remember, there can be a fine line between being vigilant and becoming hyper alert.

Extreme vigilance during frightening times can lead to heightened and even continuous anxiety and stress. This can impair our judgment and blur the line between rational and irrational fear. We may end up in a siege mentality, experience panic attacks or nightmares.

8. Ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? Seriously.

I know this might be really uncomfortable. But thinking about the worst case scenario can be strangely empowering.

Given what you might be frightened of, what is the worst that can happen (including death)? And how can you deal with it or be prepared for it?

Being at least one step ahead in our thinking process can give reassurance and can help us respond in a timely and calm manner.

9. Feel your fear but don't get stuck in it.

With most difficult feelings, we are afraid that we cannot 'get rid' of them. That's why we often avoid difficult feelings in the first place. Fear is no exception.

It is one thing to face and explore feelings in order to manage them. It is another thing altogether to get stuck in them. The whole point of facing your fear, is to work out what you are going to do and then move on.

You may still remain fearful, but fear will not become the overwhelming emotion in your life.

10. Facing your fear is courageous and takes energy.

Noticing, accepting and facing our fear takes courage and energy. It involves stretching our comfort zone, which ultimately can make us more resilient and less frightened.

Self care, looking after our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing, especially during frightening times, is essential.

Fear works like concentric circles and can have far reaching ripples. Sometimes we can ride out the waves. At other times we tread water, hold on tight, hope to make it through, or wait for what is frightening us to go away.

Some days we can do a lot about it. On other days we can only do so much. But we can try and do the best we can.

Karin Sieger is a psychotherapist and writer. For more information visit KarinSieger.com. To receive free updates of Karin's writing, sign up here