Why Wont My Fear Go Away And Leave Me Feeling Normal Again
Fear may be a one-off feeling when you are faced with something unfamiliar.
But it can also be an everyday, long-lasting problem even if you cant put your finger on why. Some people feel a constant sense of anxiety all the time, without any particular trigger.
There are plenty of triggers for fear in everyday life, and you cant always work out exactly why you are frightened or how likely you are to be harmed. Even if you can see how out of proportion a fear is, the emotional part of your brain keeps sending danger signals to your body.
Sometimes you need mental and physical ways of tackling fear.
Tip : Interrupt The Worry Cycle
If you worry excessively, it can seem like negative thoughts are running through your head on endless repeat. You may feel like youre spiraling out of control, going crazy, or about to burn out under the weight of all this anxiety. But there are steps you can take right now to interrupt all those anxious thoughts and give yourself a time out from relentless worrying.
Get up and get moving. Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment because it releases endorphins which relieve tension and stress, boost energy, and enhance your sense of well-being. Even more importantly, by really focusing on how your body feels as you move, you can interrupt the constant flow of worries running through your head. Pay attention to the sensation of your feet hitting the ground as you walk, run, or dance, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the sun or wind on your skin.
Take a yoga or tai chi class. By focusing your mind on your movements and breathing, practicing yoga or tai chi keeps your attention on the present, helping to clear your mind and lead to a relaxed state.
Practice progressive muscle relaxation. This can help you break the endless loop of worrying by focusing your mind on your body instead of your thoughts. By alternately tensing and then releasing different muscle groups in your body, you release muscle tension in your body. And as your body relaxes, your mind will follow.
Relaxation techniques can change the brain
How To End An Anxiety Or Panic Attack
An anxiety attack can be terrifying, but it wont kill you. If you want to overcome it, take a deep breath and know it will end soon.
“Anxiety” is a general term that describes a variety of experiences, including nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry, that are common in several mental health disorders. While most of us have anxiety at some time, this is completely different from an anxiety attack or anxiety disorder. Normal feelings of nervousness, worry, and fear often have a known trigger . But when you’re having a full blown panic attack or anxiety attack, the symptoms chest pain, flushing skin, racing heart, and difficulty breathing can make you feel as though you’re going to faint, lose your mind, or die. The reality is, you wont. The key to surviving is to learn all you can about anxiety attacks and practice the skills you need to get through them.
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of an anxiety attack include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Fear of loss of control or death
- Feeling of unreality or detachment
- Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
- Trembling or shaking
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers practical strategies in how to deal with stress and anxiety attacks, including:
- Accept that you cannot control everything.
- Do your best.
- Maintain a positive attitude.
- Learn what triggers your anxiety.
Here’s how to stop an anxiety attack and recover.
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Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day weekends included.
Your routine before going to bed also matters. Consider giving yourself wind-down times. For example, 20 minutes with no devices. Instead, you could read a book or take a bath.
Avoiding potential triggers, like watching TV or scrolling the news on your phone, is key.
Creating a sleep routine will help you fall asleep faster and reduce the chances that youll lie awake, worrying about unfinished tasks or the next morning.
Try 6 Meditations To Help Reduce Anxiety
Looking for more meditations to help you feel calm? The Headspace app offers subscribers several courses and single meditations on topics related to anxiety, including:
Managing Anxiety 10-day course. Cultivate a new perspective on fear and anxiety.
Unemployment Anxiety single meditation. Recognize and release stress about job loss and the future.
Letting Go of Stress 10-day course. Enjoy a healthier mind by developing your awareness of stress and learning how to reframe negative emotions.
Stressed single meditation. Notice what you’re holding onto and how to drop the preoccupying storyline.
Why can’t I sleep? single meditation. This exercise will help you practice calming the mind and body during the day, so you feel more ready for sleep when bedtime comes.
Difficult Conversations single meditation. The prospect of a difficult conversation can drive feelings of anxiety and fear, but by lesseing habits of reactivity and developing a calmer, more patient mindset, you can both listen and express yourself more clearly.
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Name What Youre Feeling
When youre experiencing an anxious episode, you may not realize whats going on until youre really in the thick of it.
Recognizing anxiety for what it is may help you calm down quicker.
Name that this is anxiety not reality and that it will pass, says Kim Hertz, a psychotherapist at New York Therapy Practice. When you are in a heightened state of anxiety, you want to disrupt that cycle, and for some people, thought-stopping techniques are effective and as simple as saying stop to the internalized messaging that heightens anxiety.
In other words, consider recognizing that what youre feeling is anxiety and talking yourself through it.
Embrace absolute truths, says Steven Sultanoff, clinical psychologist and professor at Pepperdine University. I will get through this one way or another.
Naming your sensations and feelings may help you step away from them. This is anxiety, it is not you and it wont last forever.
Instead Say: Ive Noticed Youve Been Anxious A Lot Lately And Im Concerned
If you notice your friend getting more and more anxious and you know they havent sought any kind of professional help, its OK to express your concern if it comes from the heart.
Instead of making it seem like they are the problem, focus on how their behavior is negatively affecting them and how youve seen anxiety change them: maybe they arent going to concerts anymore even though they used to love live music, or they havent been socializing as much and youre worried about them being lonely.
If theyre open to getting help but feel overwhelmed, offer to do some research on good therapists or to wait for them in the lobby during their first appointment. Remind them that anxiety is treatable and that this isnt something they have to fight alone.
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Write Down The Signs Of An Anxiety Attack
Once you know youre having an anxiety attack, try to jot down a few of the symptoms and thoughts you are experiencing. This can help you put your anxiety attack into perspective.
One of the things that worsens anxiety and can make it develop into a panic attack is looking at those symptoms in a catastrophic way, says Cheryl Carmin, PhD, director of clinical psychology training at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center and a professor at Ohio State in Columbus.
Dont Say: Have You Tried Meditation/yoga/cutting Caffeine/exercising More
Meditation and yoga and deep breathing and all of the other anti-anxiety trends that have taken pop culture by storm might be helpful for some people, maybe even your ultra-anxious friend. But they also might not.
Extreme anxiety can feel consuming, which means that small things like taking a few deep breaths might not be enough to counter panic in the moment. Anxiety can also make someone feel so restless that sitting quietly and letting their thoughts float away is pretty much impossible.
Everyone with anxiety has different relaxation techniques that work for them and some people need to do something active, like go for a run, instead of sitting and breathing calmly. Others may need to work with a therapist. Dont offer unsolicited advice unless youve been trained to treat people with anxiety disorders or you have one yourself and want to share your experience.
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There Are Effective Treatments For Anxiety
Treatment is tailored to the diagnosis. Effective options include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as skipping caffeine, exercising regularly, and avoiding medicines or substances that might cause anxiety symptoms.
- Mind-body approaches, such as deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and techniques to ease muscle tension and promote calm.
- Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. CBT teaches people to challenge and reframe distorted or unhelpful anxious thinking, because thoughts influence feelings and actions. Exposure therapy helps people tolerate and calm anxiety by gradually exposing a person to feared situations or objects under guidance from a therapist.
- Medicines, such as short-acting drugs called benzodiazepines, which are taken as needed when anxiety spikes. Low doses of some antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , help relieve anxiety when taken daily.
Often, a combination of approaches is best. Relieving anxiety with medicine while using CBT or exposure therapy to strengthen coping skills and help retrain the brain can do much to make anxiety manageable.
What Is Test Anxiety
Test anxiety is a complex of emotions such as worry, dread, and fearalong with physical fight-or-flight symptomsthat some people experience before and during a test. Its a form of performance anxietywhen the pressure to succeed becomes so overwhelming that people are unable to concentrate and operate at 100%. Some degree of nervousness around test-taking is normal, but when symptoms cause panic attacks, hinder learning, or impair performance, its important to find ways to modulate this response.
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Taking Action To Manage Your Anxiety
Once you make your way through these three steps, you can start to manage your anxiety daily in ways that allow you to grow as a leader and be more resourceful and productive.
The following tactics can help ground you.
Control what you can
Many faith traditions teach us to accept what we cannot control, without preoccupation or panic. But in the middle of an anxiety attack at work, you probably dont have time for philosophy. So heres what to do when things feel completely off the rails.
Structure your time. A solid body of research shows that improved time management disposition meaning your attitude toward how you organize and value your time has a positive impact on mental health. And its especially crucial when youre gripped by anxiety.
First thing in the morning, create a to-do list and a detailed schedule for your day. I like to do it while having my coffee. You might use 30-minute increments to spell out when youll shower, take a lunch break, make a phone call, or tackle that report that needs to get done. This is what many experts call timeboxing. While youre at it, try to avoid what cognitive behavioral therapy terms cognitive distortions. These are the catastrophic thoughts, self-judgments, and all-or-nothing ideas that often accompany anxiety.
Be careful not to overschedule or overestimate your productivity instead focus on the critical work and leave time to take care of yourself.
Develop techniques for situations you cant control
The Effective Habit: When You Feel Anxious You Keep Doing What You Were Doing Anywaythe Anxiety Habit: When You Feel Anxious You Spend Your Time Differently Than You Normally Do You Stop Doing Certain Activities
This is one of the most important habits to know. When someone with an anxiety problem feels anxious, they treat this as something that MUST change before they can do anything else. They therefore might stop working, seeing friends, or exercising until they can calm themselves down. Only then will they continue on with their day. This leads to shutting down, inactivity, more anxiety, and depression because avoidance keeps anxiety going in the long run.
When people who dont have an anxiety problem feel anxious, they dont let it stop them from doing anything. They keep right on going, in spite of the anxiety. They accept that some anxiety is a normal part of life and by not letting it change how they spend their time, they prevent it from becoming a persistent problem.
If you find yourself doing more of the Anxiety Habits, try making a lifestyle change towards the Effective Habits. If you consistently use these strategies, you will no longer be doing the things that fuel the anxiety, and it will eventually get better because of your changed behavior.
Interested in learning some of the most common and most effective strategies I teach my clients for dealing with anxiety and worry? Check out my self-help video series, How to Stop Overanalyzing, with over 3 hours of content covering the skills I teach to almost all of my clients in the first 5 therapy sessions.
About Dr. Stein
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Practice Mindfulness Meditate Or Pray
Meditation, mindfulness and prayer all have similar goals get your mind off future worries and focus on the present. Try to put yourself in a mindful state when you first wake up. Objectively observe your feelings, thoughts and bodily state while trying not to react to them. Take some deep breaths, turning your focus away from what you cant control and turning it toward what you can.
Imagine Yourself Taking Off Your Anxiety Glasses And Giving Yourself A Break
Anxiety doesn’t ask “is now a good time?” before it slaps you in the face. It just goes for it. You could try to ignore those anxious thoughts or distract yourself, but they might just come right back even stronger, says Galanti.
In moments like this, Galanti says it can feel almost like you’re wearing glasses that are masked in the anxiety, and you can’t see anything but the anxiety. And that can really suck if you’re out trying to have a good time or working against a tight deadline.
“Take those glasses off and put them on the other side of the room,” she says. Sure, the anxiety is still there, but you’re making a conscious decision to not let it completely ruin your night/your productivity/whatever it is you were doing. And that’s huge.
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The Effective Habit: You Put No Demands On Yourself To Feel Calm You Allow Yourself To Feel However You Feelthe Anxiety Habit: You Believe That You Shouldnt Feel Anxious So You Try To Fight It
People with an anxiety problem put demands on their feelings. They believe there is a right way and a wrong way to feel in any given situation. They might deem it ok to feel anxious before giving a speech in front of 100 people, but not ok to be sitting at work feeling panicky for seemingly no reason.
Well unfortunately, your mind does not care about should. You feel the way you feel. There is no should, your feelings just are what they are. Demanding that they be anything other than what they are is just going to drive you nuts, because feelings are something that happens to you, not something you choose.
People who do not have an anxiety problem accept this. They have no expectations that they should feel calm all the time. So when they dont feel calm, this is no big deal. And they dont treat it like its a big deal. They let themselves feel whatever they feel and move on with their day.
Ways To Help Lower Anxiety Naturally
Research shows that after a full night of sleep â 7-9 hours is ideal â weâre likely to feel less anxious and more confident. Physical activity during the day will help us sleep better, too. And remember: if winding down for the night inclues reading before bed, don’t make these mistakes.
Science is discovering more about the âgut-brain connection.â Researchers often refer to the belly as the second brain, since about 95% of serotonin receptors are found in the lining of the gut. Science shows that foods containing certain vitamins and minerals may help reduce anxiety, so when weâre thinking about natural ways to help anxiety, consider filling up on these:
It might also be a good idea to limit caffeine and alcohol â both of which can aggravate symptoms of anxiety.
Research shows that B vitamins have many health and quality of life benefits, and supplementing with B vitamins is gaining scientific traction. This 2018 study found that people who ate food high in B vitamins showed significant improvements in their anxiety and stress scores than those who did not. Taking a high-quality B-complex supplement is generally very safe, since B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning the body excretes what it doesnât use. But always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements since they can interact with medications or have side effects.
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How Accurate Is It
This quiz is NOT a diagnostic tool. Mental health disorders can only be diagnosed by licensed healthcare professionals.
Psycom believes assessments can be a valuable first step toward getting treatment. All too often people stop short of seeking help out of fear their concerns arent legitimate or severe enough to warrant professional intervention.