Hiding away from our fears is certainly one way of coping but it's not as useful as strategies that can reduce or even eliminate fears over time. Let’s explore some of these alternatives:
Embrace your fears. This may seem like the last thing you’d want to do but there is sound logic behind the suggestion. The thing about many fears is they are frequently way out of proportion to what would actually happen. For example, if you experience palpitations your fear may be that you are having a heart attack. It’s not going to happen. The heart is designed to beat, sometimes hard and fast, so why not turn the fear around and enjoy the sensation of this fantastic organ at work. Fear always subsides. It may not be pleasant but if you try to resist it the sensations are likely to get worse before they get better.
Look fear in the eye. Again, your instinct may be to do exactly the opposite but the effect of avoidance is to make things appear even more fearful. Fear does fade, so if you’ve had a bad experience in a busy street, try going back yourself and sticking it out. You’ll find your anxiety does lessen. If it helps, go with a loved one or a trusted friend.
Lower your expectations. Are you the sort of person who sets high standards? It wouldn’t be at all surprising. Maybe you’re a bit of a perfectionist and you dislike sloppy or inconsiderate behavior, or low standards in others? If you’ve set your expectations bar high there’s a danger you are over extending your capacity to meet your own standards. Lower your stress levels by giving yourself permission to power down a little. Life really is a bit messy and you don’t need to shoulder the burden of trying to make it better.
Stand back. If your body is flooded with stress hormones you will be unable to think clearly. Your anxiety levels will increase and you may start to feel panic symptoms. These are warning signs for you to take notice of. It usually doesn’t take much to restore the balance. If you can, step into the fresh air for 15 minutes and settle down (that or something similar). The goal is to reduce your physical symptoms because once these subside you will be able to think more clearly and decide on ways you might cope.