How Can We Deal With Fear and Stress?
For me, living with a chronic condition translates to living under continuous stress. Managing appointments, treatment, loved ones' expectations, and the pressures of society - the stress of it all can sometimes feel unbearable.
Stress and anxiety are a response to our body's fear
To better control the impact these emotions can have on our bodies, it's important we learn how to manage our stress levels.
I am honored to share with you some techniques that I use to calm myself down and overcome my anxious fear. This includes the stress of worrying about the future. How do we know if we're stressed or scared? I'm happy to dive into that too.
The stress/fear cycle
Stress is one of the most common triggers of inflammatory conditions. We know that keeping calm and controlling the way we feel and react will overall improve our mental health and avoid those stressful type situations. When you feel the stress and anxiety building, have you ever considered that you also may be feeling fear?
When you live with a chronic condition, the unknown can be quite stressful and the fact that we have to deal with pain and discomfort can, very easily, disturb the most peaceful and balanced person. In my opinion, stress is always induced by fear.
Fear to lose a job, fear to hurt someone else's feelings, fear to feel pain in public, fear to show your weaknesses, fear to not be loved, to not be understood, fear to be wrong. Fear and stress are linked together, but let’s start with fear.
What is fear anyway?
Fear is the result of living in the past and thinking or worrying about the future. Most of the time, fear is based on past experiences or, even more precisely, on the perception of past experiences.
Perception can make a difference when managing our stress and fear. Taking a step back and having the mindfulness to realize that perhaps this stressful moment is on a blip in time in the scale of the rest of our lives. We can simplify, shed the unnecessary, and give ourselves the gift of perspective.
Having the skill of perception can change the way we feel and what we remember. It has the ability to affect the present and future. The past is what we choose to perceive it to be.
My own tips for managing fear and stress
This is like a constant battle, but a battle that you can win. Notice fear when it's begging to creep in. When it begins to build up like a tight ball in your chest all the way to your head. When this overwhelmingness begins, recognize and validate how you feel.
Bring it back to your breathing - its rhythm, its length, the area involved, the muscles you use. “If in any doubt, breathe out.” I love using this sentence in my classes. A deep inhalation without a nice long exhalation can actually decrease stress in your body and mind.
You can use a count of 4 to inhale - through your nose, always - and a count of 8 to exhale - through your nose or mouth. This also helps to distract our monkey mind as we follow the counting. Yoga and meditation, as you probably know, also help with mental health, managing stress, anxiety, and fear.
If you try any of this, please, let me know how it goes. And if you have a technique that you already use, please, share it in the comments.
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