Fear is a natural human emotion, and like any emotion knowing how to approach the feeling is key.
Steps to preparing for a stressful situation :
When you find yourself feeling an emotion of a high intensity, or if you are pushing yourself to confront a situation that you expect to find stressful, it is important to focus on how you are thinking. Notice what your self talk may already be saying, and see how changing your self talk may “coach” you through.
Here are some pointers:
- Consider what it would be like to approach the situation as if you weren’t feeling stress, fear or worry. Change negative self-statements into logical self statements.
- For every situation that we feel fear, the flip side can be becoming aware of your underlying excitement or eagerness to confront the situation or do well.
- Reassure yourself that confronting and handling stressful situations takes practice.
- Break the challenge into smaller steps, and focus on one step at a time
- Compartmentalise your fear – literally think of placing it into a box temporarily, while you plan and problem solve and do, what you need to do.
- Relax, you are in control. Take a slow deep breath. The feelings will peak, and pass, but you can still meet the challenge.
- Help yourself to cope using a coping statement:
- I can do ……. and I will, watch me.
- I expect some bad feelings in this situation, but I’ll cope.
- I won’t try to deny my bad feelings or avoid the situation, but I also won’t focus on my feelings or just dwell on the situation.
- If I can, I’ll do something constructive to improve the situation and focus on that.
- If I can’t do anything constructive now, I’ll focus on doing something else, pleasant and constructive.
What to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed by emotion?
Sometimes people get caught up in the feeling and find it difficult to navigate themselves out of it. Here are some tips, that can be your “lighthouse” or “anchor” to keep in mind:
- When the fear comes, invite yourself to pause.
- Keep focus on the present – what is it you have to do?
- Don’t try to get rid of your fear totally – accept the feelings and “ride with them.”
- Remind yourself that this is, “not the worst thing that can happen”.
- Focus your mind on calming ideas or places that are safe and/ or relaxing
- Practice a grounding technique, which involves noticing what your sense can connect to in your current environment.
This article was written by Linda Johnson, Clinical Psychologist.