The Bible tells us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear” (2 Tim. 1:7). But in the midst of a global pandemic (as well as racial tensions and political unrest as we prepare to move from one president to the other) . . . it can be hard not to be fearful!
The Science of Fear
a natural, powerful, and primitive human emotion. It involves a universal biochemical response as well as a high individual emotional response. Fear alerts us to the presence of danger or the threat of harm, whether that danger is physical or psychological. (Fritscher & Block, 2020)
At its core, fear is a survival mechanism. When we confront a perceived threat, our bodies respond in specific ways. Physical reactions to fear include sweating, increased heart rate, and high adrenaline levels, making us extra alert and aware. However, the emotional response to fear is highly personalized and is experienced differently depending on each person.
Types of Fear
All of us experience fear at one time or another. Dr. Nancy Rockey tell us that there are two basic types of fear:
Healthy fear is a feeling that motivates an appropriate response to a very real hazard. The healthier a person is, the more responsive (note: response, not hysteria) he or she is likely to be to the warning provided by real fear.
Mythical fear comes from the faulty and self-defeating conclusions we form when trying to cope with toxic input from our culture. It is both limiting and destructive. It causes us to develop unhealthy techniques in an effort to cover up the fear and make us feel better – temporarily. Fear paralyzes and predicts its own end. Usually what we fear comes to pass. (Rockey, 2017)
It is important to remember that fear can also be a symptom of some mental health conditions, including panic disorders, social anxiety disorder, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder. If you experience fear or anxiety in excess, it may be a good idea to speak to a medical professional about your fear(s) and/or resulting expressions of fear.
For many, the current COVID-19 pandemic has been a source of much fear: fear of going into public spaces, fear of failing physical health (by contracting COVID or developing complications), or even fear of death. There are also fears that come with the isolation of social distancing and limited contact with others.
5 Ways to Cope with Fear
When faced with fear, how can we deal with it? Here are five ways of coping with fear.
1. Process your fear. Many times, it feels easier just to distract ourselves from our fears or to express our fear through different (often negative) emotions. However, dealing with our fears and difficult emotions is important and, by doing so, we can diminish fear’s power over our lives. A great way to begin confronting and processing your fear is by downloading and completing our FREE PRINTABLE.
2. Find social support. Right now, being together – in person – with others is not always a safe option. However, it is also important not to isolate yourself from others, especially when you are dealing with difficult emotions. Connecting with the supportive people in your life via phone, text, email, or video calls is important; these people can help you process your fear and can remind you that you are not alone in the midst of it.
3. Engage in mindfulness. Fritscher and Block (2020) write that, “While you cannot always prevent certain emotions, being mindful can help you manage them and replace negative thoughts with more helpful ones.” Additionally, spending time reading your Bible and praying can help change your thought patterns and refocus you on your Heavenly Father.
4. Practice stress management techniques. In a previous blog, we examined different stress management techniques. By practicing these techniques, you can relieve the stress that fear is putting in your life. (You can download the FREE PRINTABLE from that blog here.)
5. Take care of yourself. During times of high stress, it can be easy to let self-care slip to the wayside. However, during difficult times, taking care of yourself is more important than ever! Eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, etc. are important for keeping both mind and body in good health.
Fear is a part of life – whether we like it or not. However, there are healthy ways to deal with our fears and not allow them to control us.
What coping mechanism do you use to combat fear in your life? Please share your ideas in the comment box below. Who knows? Your ideas might make a difference in someone else’s life and battle against fear!
Rockey, N. (2017). Tidbits of recovery–#3. Life Renewal. Retrieved from https://fixablelife.andrews.edu/2017/08/29/tidbits-of-recovery-3/
Fritscher, L., & Block, D. B. (2020). What is fear? Verywell Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/the-psychology-of-fear-2671696