Like it or not, many of our lives are ruled by it with little to no understanding on how to overcome it. Fear of not getting what we want, or fear of losing what we have, has spurred countless questionable decisions for so many of us. In our modern society, many of us live in a constantly “triggered” state – as our bodies are under constant stress and low-grade panic caused by everyday inconveniences, like traffic or running late for a meeting.
This regular state of agitation can lead to profound exhaustion, health issues, and poor mental health. Thankfully, researchers are clear on how fear works and its effects on the body. Even better, they have plenty of free, assessable tools to overcome it, so you can begin to live with more ease and joy, out from the pressing tyranny of fear. Here, we breakdown how fear affects the body, and how to overcome it when you aren’t in actual danger. Read on for more….
How Fear Affects the Body
Fear is a natural and powerful emotion that can have a significant impact on our bodies and minds. When we feel fear – rational or not – our nervous system responds in a complex and intricate way, activating a chain reaction of physiological responses that can have both short-term and long-term effects on our health.
The nervous system is responsible for transmitting signals throughout our bodies, allowing us to experience sensations, emotions, and movement. It is composed of two main branches: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
When we experience fear, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, triggering a “fight or flight” response. This response is designed to help us deal with perceived threats, either by fighting back or fleeing the situation. It involves the release of adrenaline and other stress hormones, which can increase our heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. These changes allow us to quickly respond to danger and can be lifesaving in certain situations. That’s why we have it!
Unfortunately, the body’s fear response system can’t always discern the difference between an approaching lion and a being late for a meeting. The fight or flight response can be triggered in situations where there is no real danger, leading to chronic stress and anxiety. That’s why we are often overly agitated even when our lives aren’t on the line. All of life’s little inconveniences can add up and leave us in a near constant activation of the stress response system.
When fear becomes routine, chronic, or overwhelming, it can have negative effects on our nervous system and overall health. Prolonged activation of the sympathetic nervous system can lead to chronic stress, which has been linked to a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and depression.
Chronic fear and stress can also affect the functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and relaxation. When the sympathetic nervous system is constantly activated, the parasympathetic nervous system is suppressed, leading to a state of chronic tension and anxiety. This can make it difficult to relax, sleep, or focus, and can lead to a range of mental health problems, including anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There is hope, we can overcome fear.
How to Overcome Fear
Fortunately, there are a number of effective ways to overcome fear and reduce the impact of chronic stress on the nervous system. One of the most important is to practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation, and yoga. These techniques can help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and promote a state of calm and relaxation to overcome fear.
One of the most effective ways to calm the nervous system and overcome fear is through deep breathing exercises. When we are stressed or anxious, our breathing tends to become shallow and rapid, which can further exacerbate feelings of panic and anxiety. By slowing down our breathing and taking deep, intentional breaths, we can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and promote feelings of calm and relaxation.
Another effective technique for calming the nervous system is progressive muscle relaxation. This technique involves tensing and releasing different muscle groups throughout the body, which can help to release physical tension and promote feelings of relaxation.
Exercise is also a powerful tool to overcome fear and stress. Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and can help to boost mood and improve overall health. Additionally, engaging in enjoyable activities, such as hobbies or spending time with loved ones, can help to reduce stress and promote feelings of happiness and well-being.
For those struggling with chronic fear or anxiety disorders, professional help may be necessary. Therapy, medication, or a combination of both can be effective in managing these conditions and improving overall quality of life. If you or someone you know is experiencing chronic fear or anxiety, get in touch. Our compassionate, qualified clinicians are here to help!