10 Ways to Move Out of Fear
Updated: Nov 5, 2020
Many people are living in fear these days. Fear is not bad. It is a natural response that signals us about danger, and alerts us to take action. When we are frightened, our bodies often move into the fight-flight-freeze state mediated by the sympathetic nervous system, and this response provides us with a short burst of energy to deal with the threat. We are designed to then settle into the calmer state of the nervous system (mediated by the parasympathetic nervous system) where we rest, digest, and restore our health. However, for many of us, the fight-flight-freeze response has grown from a momentary reaction into a habitual state, and we are often tense, hypervigilant, and stressed.
But here's the good news. This ramped up state does not have to be our permanent state, and it possible to calm the body and mind, and have a different experience even in difficult times.
Before my healing journey, I would have judged myself for being in fear, and pushed myself to adopt these ideas. So let me be clear. Fear is a natural state and it is important to treat ourselves and others with compassion when we are in this place. This list is simply meant to give you some ways to help yourself in difficult times. I encourage you to be easy on yourself, and to use whatever fits. With that said, here we go:
1. Recognize Your Fear and Use It As a Call to Action
When we try to ignore or discount our fears, they usually don't just go away. They keep calling to us through persistent thoughts, emotions, and body responses. So the first step out of fear is to pay attention to these signals and to do all you can to ensure your health and well-being. We can't control everything, but we can do all that is in our power. These actions help us feel more empowered, and this is a big step in moving out of fear.
2. Breathe Deeply and Slowly with your Diaphragm
When we are stressed and the sympathetic nervous system is active, we often take shallow and rapid breaths with our upper chest. When the parasympathetic nervous system is in charge, we breathe slower and deeper with our diaphragm, and our abdomen moves out with each inspiration. Breathing is automatic, but breathing is also in our control. When we consciously breathe with our diaphragm, it can help move the nervous system into the calmer mode. And when we focus on our breathing, it can give us a break from our fearful thoughts.
3. Release Tension
When we are stressed, we often carry tension in our body, and when we release this tension it can help us feel better. Consider doing yoga or performing gentle stretches. Move your body into positions where you feel it is tight, and stop when you first feel tissue tension. Don't go into a painful range because the body will often just increase muscular tension to avoid the stretch. Hold each position for at least thirty seconds and up to a few minutes. While you are stretching, tune in to the tight area, breathe with your diaphragm, and picture the area softening like butter melting in the sun.
b. Body scanning
With this type of meditation, you tune in to the tension in different body areas, put out the message to relax, and then accept whatever tension remains. When we accept whatever tension remains, we often relax further.
4. Support Your Body
a. Eat healthy
Your body is less likely to be stressed when it receives adequate hydration and nutrition, so consider limiting your consumption of processed foods and sugar and increasing your intake of water, fruits and vegetables. Caffeine can also ramp up our system, so it is very helpful to avoid it.
b. Get moving
Move your body so your heart rate increases, and if you break a sweat that is even better. It can be as simple as a brisk walk or dancing around the room. When we move in this way, it increases our endorphins, and gives our minds the message that we are okay.
5. Feel Your Feet on the Ground
When you feel like you are spinning, focus on feeling the soles of your feet on the ground. It is best to do this barefoot on the grass, but if you have to do it inside or with your shoes on, that's okay too. While you are standing there, take some deep breaths, unlock your knees and hips, and picture roots coming out of your feet and burrowing deep into the earth.
6. Appreciate the Sun
Notice the sun, and let the rays beat down on you if possible. Use the sun as a reminder that no matter what is happening in your world- energy, love and light are always present.
7. Give Yourself Positive Messages
a. Be mindful of the information you are tuning in to
Gather up information from reputable sources that helps you take action and increases your sense of empowerment. Decrease your consumption of information that is fear-based and depleting. Listen to inspiring stories and watch those who are peaceful in adversity to help you remember that is possible to live with less fear.
b. Remind yourself that “this too shall pass”
Life is in constant flux; it is always changing. So when it seems like you are in a deep valley, keep moving. It may be an uphill climb, but there are sure to be peaks up ahead.
c. Comfort yourself
When we accept, support and love ourselves, it can help us calm down internally and move out of fear more quickly. So, give yourself comforting messages. You can think them, say them out loud, or write them down. If this is difficult, picture yourself as a child and give yourself the messages you need to hear.
8. Consider That You Are More Than Your Fearful Thoughts
Listen to your inner voice, that ongoing chatter in your mind. Then consider that there is another part of you that can do the listening. When you know that you are more than your thoughts, especially the constricting mental loops, it becomes easier to recognize them and move out of them.
9. Open Up to Perceive and Experience Love
When we are in a fear-based mindset, we often feel cut off, separate, and lonely. But Love is all around us, and it is our very essence. The more you take time to calm down and open up, the more you will be able to see and feel it. There are many ways to do this; here are just a few.
Spend time with people you care about, and if this is not possible, think about those you love or have loved. Let your love for them flood your body and mind.
Focus on nature- even a houseplant will do!
Listen to uplifting music
Spend time creating
Meditate or pray
10. Recognize Meaning and Potential
There is nothing great about adversity, and we all want to get through these times. But when you are in the midst of challenge, consider that it is also an opportunity to learn and to grow. And the most difficult situations have the potential to push our growth the most. They can shake us out of our habitual states and open us up to experience more of ourselves and our world.