Reviewed by Phillip Waite, Ph.D.
Fear is something that everyone experiences. Sometimes it can be useful - for example, keeping us alert in dangerous situations. But, fear and anxiety can also appear in situations that aren't really dangerous, disrupting our everyday lives. Here are some tips to help you deal with everyday fears and anxiety.
Take a Break
It's hard to think clearly when you're in a situation that fills you with fear or anxiety. If possible, remove yourself from the situation for a short time to calm down. Distract yourself with a short walk, a cup of hot beverage, or something else that has a calming effect on you.
This is very common advice, and very effective. Quick, short breaths and increased heart rate are common physical reactions to fear and anxiety. A good way to deal with this is to take deep breaths and breathe out longer than you breathe in.
Understand Your Triggers
What causes your fear/anxiety? Try to notice and understand your triggers. When you realize what kinds of situations, images, noises or other stimuli trigger you, you can start working on exposure and easing your symptoms.
The scariest thing is the unknown. Avoiding your fears will only increase your anxiety and make the situation worse. Actively avoiding your fears can also make life harder for you, and prevent you from doing the things you want. Instead, you should face your fears step by step, if possible in a controlled environment.
Imagine the Worst
Try to imagine the worst possible scenario for the situation you're afraid of. It's probably something that's pretty unlikely to happen, and it might even start looking a little silly to you. When you realize that your fears are overblown you'll start feeling more at ease.
Focusing on an exercise will get your mind off of fears and anxiety, and leave you feeling healthier and more energized. Any exercise will do, from going to the gym, yoga, running, or just taking regular walks. Sleeping well and eating healthy will also help you feel better and more relaxed in general. Avoid caffeine, since it can increase anxiety.
Talk About It
Share your fears with your friends and family. Keeping your fears and anxiety to yourself will only get you on a negative spiral, and will make the problem seem bigger. Getting it out in the open will put it into perspective, and your friends can offer you support and advice. If you're too uncomfortable sharing with people, at least write your feelings down in a journal.
Facing your fears is hard, so you should give yourself a little treat whenever you do it. Reward yourself with something that makes you happy; it can be a nice meal out, a massage, a book... Adding some positive reinforcement will encourage you to face your fears again next time.
Don't Strive for Perfection
Everybody has good and bad days. It's best to accept fear and anxiety as a natural part of life. The worst thing you can do is to start being afraid of being afraid. Instead, try to think positively and convince yourself that everything will end well.