My head is like a jungle and my mind restlessly jumps from one thought to another. Quite often, those thoughts are fear-driven and create great suffering. Can you relate to this?
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our world into a giant ball of chaos and finding peace of mind is even more challenging.
Fears stress our mental health. They trap, paralyze, and prevent us from reaching our full potential. They hold us back from making the right decisions and living content. Fear is simply the opposite of freedom.
I have to admit that I used to be quite a fearful person. But I found some ways in addition to my simple lifestyle to minimize the amount of my fears by daily making brave decisions. So let me offer you 5 fear-reducing strategies that have been very useful to me.
1. Chose to live without it
Fear is a real neurological response to a perceived threat. But being fearful without a real threat is unnecessary. The good news is that the birth of most fears that we experience is of thought. It’s not False Evidence Appearing Real as the acronym suggests. It’s thoughts appearing real.
Recognizing that, we come to this conclusion: We choose to live with or without it. Whenever you feel fear or anxiety, make the conscious decision not to be afraid. Ask yourself: What am I afraid of? Is there a real threat, and can I control it? Now since you can at least intellectually recognize that the source of all fear is thought, you don’t have to make a big deal out of being afraid.
2. Practice Gratitude as a Discipline
Some view gratitude as an emotional response to positive circumstances. When everything is running smoothly, we find it easy to be thankful. But in times of suffering, we find it hard. That’s why we need to practice gratitude as a discipline.
Gratefulness always surpasses fear. It’s not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. This knowledge empowers us to make the best out of the situation regardless of any circumstance.
You can always find something to be grateful for. Think at least three every day. Keep a journal and write them down and remember that you cannot be worried and grateful simultaneously. Develop a habit of finding gratitude in small and big things in your life. Don’t be picky!
3. Live in the present
We cannot change the past, nor can we know the future. All we can do is realize that we only know our present reality. To reduce fear and anxiety, we must practice living in the present by focusing on our current circumstances.
I learned that FOCUS stands for: Follow One Course Until Success (love it!). This acronym is not only useful for building a business or planning for the future. You can use it anytime and in almost any situation in life.
Focus on the present (course) until you no longer fear what can come tomorrow (success). Your mind will concentrate on what you can control instead of wandering around and letting fear in.
4. Practice Meditation
When I was a kid, my father taught me Raja Yoga, a way of meditation that focuses on self-realization. The practice is to recognize that you are neither the body nor the mind. You are a soul, a point of light with endless energy. The soul has three subtle functions. The mind, the intellect, and the personality.
Visualize the mind as a screen of thoughts. Some thoughts are positive and strong, some are weak. The intellect is the soul’s captain and chooses what thoughts are projected on the screen. Over time, these choices build your habits, character, and personality. The conclusion: You are the result of your thoughts. Therefore, it is crucial to choose strong and positive ones. I find the effect of this meditation remarkable.
Of course you can practice other ways of meditation. One easy but very powerful method is meditating on your breath. Think of positive energy whenever you inhale and let go of negative energy when you exhale. Listen to the things around you and be present. Strengthen your mental health by realizing that fear is an emotion like any other and that you can manage it.
5. Surround yourself with positive people
Quite often, fears are spread by friends, co-workers, or other acquaintances. Try to avoid negative people and surround yourself with those who support you and bring value to your life.
You might think: you cannot just shut off friends and family, or avoid your boss! True, but there’s no point in feeling miserable either. There is only a certain amount of tolerance in us. And if those people cause anxiety and sleeplessness in your life, you need to find ways to improve your environment.
A quick summary:
1. Fear is a choice – The source of fear is of thought and you can choose to live without it.
2. Practice gratitude – You cannot be fearful and grateful simultaneously.
3. Live now – Realize that you have no power over the future. Focus on your present.
4. Meditate – Include any kind of meditation in your daily life to strengthen your mental health.
5. Choose wisely – Surround yourself with positive people.
I can’t emphasize enough how valuable these strategies are for me. All of them require practice. I find it good having different ways to conquer fears. Sometimes I combine more when one is not effective enough. Most importantly is to practice making them a habit and not let fear dominate your life.
What are you afraid of and how do you handle fear? Leave your comment below!
Related: Coping with crisis and self-isolation + Starting with gratitude
PS: Thank you for your time and I hope you found value in reading it! If so, I’d appreciate if you shared this post. Feel free to share your thoughts and leave a comment below. Hopefully, my ideas motivate and help you through times of struggle as well as in your daily life. Stay safe and see you at the next one!