6 Strategies to cope with Fear and Anxiety

6 Stratgies to cope with Fear and Anxiety

Island of my fear
By Hans Hammerschmid / Hildegard Knef

When the power ebbed away
Fear flooded me
When I sought help
She no longer found it in me
When the night suffocated me
The day frightened me
When I needed help
I could not find it in me
I remained alone on a lightless island
On the island of my fear

Fear is one of the great fundamental phenomena of human existence, one of the earliest feelings of the child
Fear is a feeling that everyone knows. ANGST is a part of life. ANGST is a companion of life, sometimes imperceptible, but also shattering.
Times of crisis are high times of fear. Because what was previously valid and reliable suddenly becomes fragile and uncertain, they are associated with phases of instability and with fear, tension and self-doubt. The following strategies are easy to follow and proven successful methods for anxiety reduction and symptom management. Anyone can use them. However, this does not mean that they can replace psychotherapy if the anxiety disorder is severe or long-lasting.

1. Inform

About anxiety itself!

The feeling of fear is is a biologically meaningful reaction and has a vital protective function. Anxiety is usually a healthy reaction to a threatening situation. However, it can also be a symptom of a psychological or physical disorder. Anxiety is pathological when it occurs without a specific cause, becomes a frequent or constant companion and impairs the quality of life.

How do I recognize anxiety?

- Increased heart rate, palpitations (tachycardia)
- shortness of breath
- sweating
- feelings of anxiety
- Feelings of dizziness
- drowsiness
- sensations of discomfort
- nausea
- concentration problems
- nervousness
- inner tension
- irritability
- motor tension (tension headache)

What are the fears?

- fear of losing control
- fear of going crazy
- fear of dying
- feelings of unreality
- catastrophizing thoughts
- constant brooding
- Fears (worry about futuremisfortune, etc.)
- nervousness
- Fear of spiders, crowds, syringes, blood, etc.

Information about what exactly you are afraid of!

In the case of cancer, for example, the fear often arises from the feeling of having no control over the situation, no possibility of control. Information about the! Disease! itself! and! about! treatment! options! as! well! as! Information! about! what! one! can! do! oneself! to! support! the! disease! Support! the! treatment! can! help! you! feel! safer! and! better! prepared! for! the! treatment! Also! a! Second opinion! can! provide! more! clarity! as! well! as! a! Advice! from! Self-help groups! or! Counseling! centers,! in! order! to! get! any! to! get! advice! on! what! Information! would! be! useful! now! and! where! you! can! get! it!

Anxiety as a disease

An anxiety disorder is a fear of a unreal threat. Those who are affected have exaggerated fear or are afraid of things or situations that other people find normal. 

There are different types of anxiety disorders. The most common are:

- Panic disorder: sudden attacks of anxiety, extreme fears such as fear of death or "panic attacks" that usually last only a few minutes
- claustrophobia (agoraphobia): fear of confined spaces, crowds, wide places
- generalized anxiety disorder: long-lasting fears and worries that lead to tension, inner restlessness and nervousness
- social phobia: fear of negative evaluation by other people
- specific phobia: fear of individual things or situations that are not dangerous in themselves, such as spiders, syringes or flies

2. Thought-stop

The thought-stop method comes from cognitive behavioral therapy. When panicky thoughts arise in you, say "stop" out loud (you can also clap your hands loudly as a reinforcement) or imagine a red stop sign. With a little practice, you can interrupt the carousel of thoughts. Then immediately try to think of something else or do something else.  

3. 4-7-8 Breathing

When anxiety cuts off your breath, focus on your breathing:

   Breathe in through your nose while counting to 4.
   Hold your breath and count to 7.
   Then exhale deeply through your mouth and count to 8.

Repeat. Breathing out longer calms your nervous system and restores your sense of control.

4. Exercise

Anxiety and panic builds a strong energy inside you. Vigorous movements will help you get rid of the excess energy: try running fast, doing jumping jacks or squats. Regular exercise has also been shown to help manage anxiety and depression in the long run. In the process, you'll learn that heart palpitations and sweating are normal reactions of your body.

5. Refresh yourself

Is there a sink nearby? Then turn on the faucet and splash water on your face or run it over your forearms. Warm water slows your heartbeat. It also distracts you from the things that scare you.

6. 5-4-3-2-1 exercise for panic

The 5-4-3-2-1 exercise is a trauma therapy technique developed by psychotherapist Yvonne Dolan, and a variation of Betty Erickson's 5-4-3-2-1 self-hypnosis technique. It is one of the most effective measures for an acute panic attack. By the way, since the exercise is a concentration steering technique, it can also be helpful in case of problems falling asleep due to brooding thoughts or other unwanted thoughts.
I have shortened the exercise a bit here, but it is just as effective.

If possible - that is, if you are in a situation that allows it - you can first get into a relaxed position to enhance the effect. But this is not absolutely necessary.

In the second step, count 5 things that you see at the moment. If the situation allows it, list these things aloud, otherwise in your mind. For example, if you are sitting in the subway or bus, you list in your mind: "I see a (1) timetable with all the bus/tram routes, (2) I see other passengers looking at their cell phones, (3) I see the doors, (4) I see the shopping bag of the passenger next to me, (5) I see posters advertising a job fair, I see people getting on and off the bus.

Once you have listed 5 things you can see, you direct your concentration to 5 sounds you can hear.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 with 4 things you see and hear, then continue with 3, 2 and finally only one seen and one heard.

You can repeat the exercise several times as needed until you feel a relaxation and the acute fear, panic or other negative thoughts are overcome.

What you should avoid

The above measures can help with acute anxiety and panic attacks.
A healthy lifestyle is the best basis to get them under control in the long run.

You should rather avoid the following things if you are prone to anxiety:

- Caffeine stimulates and can trigger anxiety in some people.    
- Nicotine has a stimulating effect on the body - not a relaxing one, as many assume. Smoking is not a good idea if you're already tense.
- Alcohol is not a good sedative. On the contrary, it can actually make anxiety worse. Try drinking less or take a break from alcohol.
- Hypoglycemia can cause dizziness and lightheadedness. Eat regularly (especially healthy proteins and filling whole grains) to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
- Lack of sleep can promote the development of anxiety disorders. Try to maintain regular sleep schedules and improve your sleep quality. If you have trouble falling asleep, regular meditation exercises can help.