Why am I so afraid?
I’ve been afraid of bees since the age of 12. Why? A sting from a wasp, of course, six of them down my right arm, when a wasp got caught in my shirt sleeve while I was jumping rope. While my memory of the sting is the root of my fear, the likelihood of another sting is fairly rare. Even so, I spent many summers eating indoors to avoid stinging insects. I’ve even run away from bees I felt were flying after me at the beach. I’ve managed to read about bees, watch them in a live hive indoors behind glass, talked back to my fear, and practiced breathing techniques to slow my responses down. I can now eat outside most of the time, though I’m not always comfortable doing so.
Fear…it’s gripping. Most dread it. It is a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat, which causes a change in the brain and the body, ultimately resulting in fleeing, hiding, or freezing behavior. Fear can be caused by a traumatic event or it can be caused by a false alarm, such as an irrational fear, called a phobia, or a stuck thought, as in OCD. Fear can sometimes be so intense it can interfere with daily activities.
Tips for managing fear include:
- Naming it
- Rating the intensity of the fear
- Talking back to it
- Making a plan to confront it by breaking it down into smaller more manageable steps
- Practicing breathing, relaxing the mind and body, and exercising (to get the anxious energy out)
- Creating a positive image of handling the fear
- Gradually facing it using the small steps described earlier.
Playing/singing upbeat songs about overcoming obstacles can be motivating and empowering, too! Using cheerleading statements, drumming, and songwriting can create new pathways for reducing fear. Listening to relaxing music and practicing mindfulness can also reduce our responses to fear. Need some motivation? Try it at SHCS!