- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Did you know that elevated levels of cortisol also interfere with our capacity for empathy, learning, and memory retention? Daniel Siegal, psychiatrist and leading world authority in the fascinating field of interpersonal neurobiology, explains:
The release of stress hormones leads to excessive death of neurons in the crucial pathways involving the neo-cortex and limbic system - the areas responsible for emotional regulation (Siegel, 1996: 106).
Tips and Solutions to Quelling Fear
Grounding is a process of dynamic contact with the earth, with its edges, boundaries, and limitations. It allows us to become solidly real - present in the here and now - and dynamically alive with the vitality that comes from Earth. (Judith, A. in "Wheels of Life", p. 66)
Eat something nourishing
Go for a walk, feeling your feet
Pet your animals
Take time away from screens
Garden or put your feet on the earth
Exercise (eg., do 20 jumping jacks)
Stand with a tree
2. Take Heart
Human affection produces a biochemical mixture that creates growth in the brain's empathy centers (Gerhardt, 2004), literally building a more empathic brain. According to Heart Math Institute, approaching fear with ease and self-compassion rather than with mind struggle, is key. Heart-based practices for reducing fear:
In prayer or meditation, I would visualize love from my heart streaming into my mind and into all my cells to change my old fear imprints. While breathing, I would hold a conscious intention in my heart to change my old programs of fear and anxiety into feelings of intelligent concern (managed-concern)—which is a much more objective and less stressful attitude than the feeling of fear. (Heart Intelligence: Connecting with the Intuitive Guidance of the Heart, p.223-227).
Take a look at this brief video on the
HeartMath Quick Coherence Technique
When we have the courage to listen deeply to our fears we may just expose a blind spot or a tricky self-betrayal...we may discover ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’ or we may choose to ‘Face Everything And Rise’. We have an opportunity to ask ourselves if there may an unconscious belief which is the source of our perceived threat that may no longer serve us. A shift in perception may help us to find self-compassion rather than a judgment toward our feelings. By meeting our shadow selves in kindness, we may just find the comfort we seek. If the threat is real, all the more reason to honour your feelings and reach out for empowerment, empathetic support and protection. (Dempster, M.)
Breath offers a powerful, natural way to transform our emotional state. Michele Meehan is a Registered Psychotherapist and Shamanic Practitioner who offers support for integrative healing to bring body, mind, heart and spirit into harmony using shamanic practices, integrative breath work, relaxation and visualization and rituals. In a conversation with her about how breathwork can help us move through fear, she emphasizes that the breath is the connector between body, mind, heart and spirit. This natural function provides us a gateway for transformation. She explains:
Working with our breath gives us a natural way to help mitigate the effects of fear or anxiety. When we feel fearful or anxious, our breathing tends to become shallow – this is a natural response, but it perpetuates the state of anxiety. Deepening the breath helps to shift our mental/emotional state. (Michele Meehan)
Michele explains that the first step is to bring awareness to the breath, noticing the sensation and movement. Then gently slowing and deepening it, we can activate a relaxation response. With practice, a slower, fuller breath will start to become a habit.
4. Vitamin N
Weather you are going for a walk or doing a grounding meditation with a tree, connecting with Vitamin N (N is for nature) has amazing effects on our health generally. Among the health benefits that are being researched, include the impact of nature on fear, anxiety, anger and depression. Researchers in Sweden have found that joggers who exercise in a natural green setting feel more restored and less anxious, angry, or depressed than people who burn the same amount of calories jogging in a built urban setting. Shinrin-yoku, the process of taking in the forest through our senses, was developed in Japan during the 1980s, and is now practiced across the world to reduce blood pressure and stress, while improving immune function, mood, sleep, energy, the ability to focus, and recover more quickly from surgery or illness. No matter your technique, getting outside and really experiencing the natural world can do wonders for releasing and moving through fear and anxiety. Take a look at the video offered here for an introduction to Shinrin-yoku, and consider it an invitation to give it a try!
Enjoy this introduction to Shinrin Yoku
Outer and inner cleaning belong to the foundation of spiritual practice, and as the monk's broom touches the ground, it has a particular relationship with the Earth. We need to create a sacred space in order to live in relationship to the sacred within ourselves and within creation.
Whether it's a daily ritual bath, tending to the feng shui of your home, doing a body detox, saging your home, clearing the thoughts that no longer serve you, dusting a shelf, or doing your laundry - it is important to extend your love to clear the clutter (physical, mental, emotional or energetic) as a regular daily practice. In one of her workshops, Deborah Brodey (Transformation Guide, Vini-Yoga Instructor and Sound Healer) emphasized the importance of "saucha", one of the first nyamas in Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga, which translates to cleanliness, and there are a number of techniques to help do this. If you'd like to explore this and other Nyamas further, I highly recommend her Radical Self-Nourishment Program, designed for change makers.
6. Sounding Through Fear
“In your ear, there’s the vestibulocochlear nerve, which connects to the vagus nerve, the major parasympathetic nerve in the body. Your parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for relaxation and digestion such as reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and relaxing muscles. (Dr. Martinez-Perez).
"Sounding for a minimum of 5-9 minutes is one way to do this", explains Sound Healer Valerie Moysey. She has offered this simple process / technique to help us all sound through fear:
Note: If you are experiencing intense fear or are having a difficult time getting grounded, it's important to have support. It could be a friend or a professional, depending on your situation - somebody you can feel safe with, and who is also grounded and not in fear, themselves. For guided support, contact Valerie: firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. Prayer / Intention
Make everything in you an ear, each atom of your being, and you will hear at every moment what the Source is whispering to you, just to you and for you, without any need for my words or anyone else's. You are - we all are - the beloved of the Beloved, and in every moment, in every event of your life, the Beloved is whispering to you exactly what you need to hear and know. Who can ever explain this miracle? It simply is. Listen and you will discover it in every passing moment. (Rumi)
May you be blessed by these medicines as you listen to, navigate, and learn from your fear, into a place of beloved expansion, compassion, and hope. And through all of this, please know that you do not need to navigate this alone. You are supported and loved.