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Understanding and overcoming fear
by TeenHelp September 1st 2022, 06:22 AM

Understanding and overcoming fear
By Emmie (Golfing girl) and Holly (Celyn)

What is fear? Who can get this? Why does this happen to us? Fear is something that anyone can get, no matter who you are or at any age. This comes from your brain, you can be afraid of the dark or you feel that you have monsters in your closet or under your bed, some may fear heights, needles, flying, animals or be claustrophobic. Something can happen to you and we keep it with us our whole lives or we see something horrible to make us afraid. No matter what you are afraid of, it can be something small or huge, always try to work your way through it if you can.

Fear is a natural response that we experience when exposed to things that scare us. When we feel scared, we may notice things in our mind and body that lets us know we are scared. We may notice that our minds are racing with thoughts of imagining the worst-case scenario or we may be frozen with fear and our minds seem to be blank. We might notice physical symptoms of fear as well, such as our breathing quickening, our heart rate increasing, our stomach feeling fluttery and overall feeling tense throughout our body. When we are scared, we might also notice our behaviour changes too. We may feel the need to run or hide, we may freeze up and not do anything, or feel that we must take action. These thoughts, feelings and behaviours are often known as the ‘fight, flight and freeze’ response which is activated when we get scared.

Fear can be ‘normal’ such as feeling scared about failing a test, being involved in a near miss incident and feeling scared in traumatic situations. Sometimes fear can get in the way of our life, such as with phobias or when we still feel scared some time after having experienced trauma. Short term fear may resolve by itself once the situation has ended, for example, we got the results back from the test and were relieved we had done better than we thought, or once we’ve calmed down after experiencing a near miss incident. When we feel scared, we can try to help ourselves with calming techniques.

When you are not around the fear anymore, look around and see what can help calm you down. If you are outside look at the cars, people, coffee shop, anything else that you can focus on for a while. Try taking some deep breaths. When you are calm and doing better, try to get away from what you are afraid of. Call a friend, family member and talk to them for a while. Sometimes it can be hard, try to slow your breathing and focus on something that will be helpful, a blanket or stuffed animal or anything else that can help comfort you at the time.

After something has scared you so much, try finding something to help get your mind off of this for a while so that it can help calm you down and also pick you up as well so that you are not thinking about it so much. Try going for a walk around your house, or if you can go down to the park and focus on what you see, doing this can help. You can try the five, four, three, two, one technique to help calm you down as well. This is five things you can see: people walking, bikes, coffee shop, trees and cars. Four things you can hear: people talking, cars, dishes and animals barking. Three things you can feel: your clothing, phone and water bottle. Two things you can smell: perfume and cookies. Then one thing you can taste: coffee. No matter what you see or you are around focus on something because you are not thinking about what has scared you, then hopefully you will start to feel better soon. You can try writing about what has happened to you in a journal so that you can get this feeling out of you.

Some people will try to face their fear because they do not want to deal with this feeling. Whatever they are afraid of they will keep looking at it or holding it and try working through it. Other people are not able to do this because it's too much for them to make go away. If you are going to try and face your fear try to have someone you trust with you so that when you are having a hard time they can help you out with this, it's good to have someone with you so that you are not so alone.

Another idea that can be helpful would be talking to a therapist or a counsellor to help you find different ways to cope. You may want to consider talking to a therapist or counsellor if you feel that the fear or phobia is getting in the way of your life and you find yourself avoiding situations where you know you will have to face the fear. We do not want to go through life being afraid of everything, you are not going to enjoy it. Everyone is afraid of something in their life.

If you decide to seek professional help, you may be offered different types of therapy, depending on your needs. If you have experienced trauma and feel scared as a result, you may be offered treatment specifically for trauma or PTSD. Otherwise, a common type of therapy to help with fear, is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which helps you to look at your thoughts and see how they are linked to your feelings and behaviours and aims to break the cycle of anxious thinking by getting you to think from a different perspective. For example, if you have test anxiety, and worry that you are going to fail, you may be asked to think about the times where you have been successful in tests or the times when things have gone better than expected, despite feeling scared.

Another type of therapy is called Exposure therapy. As the name suggests, this type of therapy aims to slowly (over a period of time) expose you to your fears so that you will become desensitised and will no longer feel scared. For example, if you are scared of heights, you may be asked to look at pictures taken from a height to begin with, before experiencing small heights (e.g. a ladder) and moving on to larger heights (e.g. a block of flats). This is done at your pace and with your safety in mind. The NHS has more information on the treatment options for phobias, which you can find here: vhttps://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/phobias/treatment/

Even if you feel your fear is unusual in some way, chances are, there may be others out there with the same or similar fear. There is nothing to be ashamed of when seeking help for our fears. You should not be judged for having a fear or phobia and you should be able to access support to help you overcome your phobia, if you want to.
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