We often talk about shame, guilt or embarrassment, but we don’t talk as often about fear.
Being afraid to do certain things because we are unsure of the outcome, fear of change, fear of failure or fear of letting ourselves or others down.
Until we push through the fear, we will never be able to fulfil our potential, overcome obstacles or prevents us from making positive change.
Ten Ways To Overcome Your Fears:
Whatever it is that scares you, here are 10 ways to help you cope with your day-to-day fears and anxieties.
1. Take Time Out
It’s impossible to think clearly when you’re flooded with fear, anxiety or apprehension. The first thing to do is take time out so you can physically calm down, think, relax and prepare.
Distract yourself from the worry for 15 minutes by walking around the block, making a drink or having a relaxing bath or shower.
2. Breathe Through Your Panic & Fear
If you start to get a faster heartbeat, sweating palms, breathlessness or light headed, the best thing to do is not to fight it. Go along with it, accept that you are experiencing fear, remind yourself that fear is a normal response and that you are safe and not in danger.
Stay where you are and simply feel the panic without trying to distract yourself. Place the palm of your hand on your stomach and breathe in and out slowly and deeply, focus your mind on your surroundings and just acknowledge how you feel is completely normal.
The goal is to help the mind get used to coping with panic, which takes the fear of fear away.
3. Face Your Fears
Avoiding the things you fear only makes them scarier and stops you progressing with your goals and aspirations. Whatever your fear, if you face it, it should start to fade.
If you panic one day getting into a lift for example, it’s best to get back into a lift the next day and repeat the process so that you can become acclimatised to the things you fear and they will soon feel normal and without the fear you once felt.
4. Imagine The Worst
Try imagining the worst thing that can happen – perhaps it’s panicking and having a heart attack, falling, getting hurt, failure, death, pain or anything else. Then try to think yourself into having a heart attack. It’s just not possible. The fear will run away the more you chase it.
This will also reinforce the fact that your fears aren’t happening and will help you feel relaxed and reassured that you are safe and not in immediate danger.
5. Look At The Evidence In front Of You
It sometimes helps to challenge fearful, intimidating or scary thoughts. For example, if you’re scared of getting trapped in a lift and suffocating, ask yourself if you have ever heard of this happening to someone. Ask yourself what you would say to a friend who had a similar fear, how would you reassure and calm them down?
Researching information can also help. For example, if you are afraid of that lift we mentioned earlier, free-falling and dropping to the bottom, try researching the safety features lifts have as standard, can help to reassure you that you are safe and not in danger.
6. Don’t Try To Be Perfect
Life is full of stresses, yet many of us feel that our lives must be perfect as we constantly compare our lives with others. Bad days, fears, worries and setbacks will always happen to everyone at one point or another, and it’s important to remember that life is messy, imperfect, not easy or always fair!
7. Visualise Your Happy, Safe Place
Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a place of safety, calm and happiness. It could be you walking on a beautiful sunny, warm sandy beach or snuggled up in bed with your cat or dog next to you, or a happy memory from childhood.
Whatever it is, let the positive feelings soothe, calm and reassure you until you feel more relaxed.
Remember – It’s your happy place! You can go to your happy place whenever you feel scared, upset or anxious and want to self-soothe yourself.
8. Talk About It With Other’s
Sharing your fears with others takes away the power that fear holds over you. If you can’t talk to a partner, friend or family member, call a helpline such as No Panic – A voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks. Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am to 10pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider’s Access Charge Website: www.nopanic.org.uk
You can also contact Samaritans on 116 123, free from mobiles or landlines 24/7.
If your fears aren’t going away, you can ask your GP for help. GPs can refer people for counselling, psychotherapy or help you.
9. Go Back To Basics
As we already know, turning to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate anxiety or fear will only make matters worse. Simple, everyday things like a good night’s sleep, a wholesome meal and a walk or simple, easy exercises can often be a great place to start when it comes to overcoming anxiety or fear. Self medicating with drugs or alcohol may feel like a relief initially, however it will only compound your fears and anxieties.
Your diet and nutritional intake is also important. Check out our guide to vitamins, minerals and supplements here.
10. Reward Yourself
Finally, give yourself a treat (not drugs or alcohol). When you’ve challenged your fears and worries you’ve been dreading or avoiding and putting off. For example, reinforce your success by treating yourself to a massage, a country walk, a meal out, a book, a DVD/Blu-ray or whatever little gift or treat makes you happy.
Also remember, often the most satisfying things are free. You don’t always have to spend money to reward yourself!
5 Common Fears In Addiction/Recovery & How To Overcome Them
Everyone is afraid of something but overcoming fears in recovery can mean the difference between life and death!
We know that sounds very broad and exaggerated but it’s true. Over 2.5 million people in the UK needed treatment between April 2019 and March 2020. There were 268,251 adults in contact with drug and alcohol services between April 2019 and March 2020, yet only 50-60% of these actually received treatment. In contrast, more and more people are dying every year due to overdose or other reasons related to drug and alcohol addiction.
This can largely be attributed to fear, the stigma of addiction and the myths and misinformation that the general public still believe to be true.
Stigma is a public health issue — it contributes to high rates of death, incarceration and mental health concerns among those who are chemically dependent.
How To Overcome The Most Common Fears In Recovery
We cling to our fears and hesitate overcoming them because it makes us feel safe. However, the longer you hold on to your fears, the longer your addiction can keep it’s hold over you. If you’re ready to face your fears – great. If you’re not, that’s okay, too.
No one can convince you that you shouldn’t be afraid. What you can do right now is gain a better understanding of your fears and how overcoming them can bring you one step closer to long-term recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.
The Fear Of Drug & Alcohol Withdrawal
Withdrawal, AKA “dope sick, clucking, grouch, riftdrawal, the drips or rattling” is not a pleasant experience for anyone. In fact, it’s reputation for being so unpleasant and unbearable is what keeps many people in active addiction and avoiding detoxing and getting into recovery. For most people, it’s a terrible stretch of days filled with a myriad of withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms like nausea, cold sweats, delirium, vomiting, muscles cramping as well as anxiety and/or nervousness, just to name a few. You lose control over your body. All you can think about is drugs or alcohol, how you can get it and who you can get it from.
“Clucking” challenges your entire self, physically, emotionally and mentally. You’re not going to feel great. But here’s the thing, you don’t feel great in active addiction either. Sometimes things have to get a little worse before they can get better.
How To Overcome The Fear Of Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawing is depicted in the media as some sort of horror story that can make you feel like you won’t be able to handle it. While we aren’t saying it will be easy, with the help of a professionally supervised detox, the most difficult withdrawal symptoms will be eased with medications and therapies. Besides, most symptoms last anywhere from 24 to 72 hours (although some, particularly with opioid and benzodiazepine withdrawal, can last longer). It might seem like a lifetime, and every minute feels like an hour to you but once you’re done, you’ll realise that in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not that much time compared to a lifetime of misery and stress.
You can find 20 tips & techniques to help with withdrawal symptoms here.
The Fear Of Wreckage
After you break through the “clucking” (withdrawal symptoms), there is an array of emotional and mental challenges that will follow, including facing the wreckage that your addiction left in it’s wake.
The people that you hurt, the things you said or did when you were high, crimes you committed for money or substances, the commitments and responsibilities you didn’t keep to and the physical/mental health conditions, financial, criminal and social factors that you now carry around with you as emotional and mental baggage has become so apparent. It’s staring you in the face and it’s not easy or nice to look at. The more you push it off & think, “I’ll just get to it later when I’m ready,” the more it just piles up & worsens.
How To Overcome The Fear Of Wreckage
The silver lining here is the calm after the storm. Think of it this way, you can start again – fresh. Life has handed you a clean slate that you can start over and build the life you have always wanted and do the things you’ve always wanted to do.
The Fear Of Change
In your addiction, you were comfortable – it was familiar and felt like home. You used and drank so that you could survive from day to day and in your mind, the drugs or alcohol helped you to stay sane and cope. Now, without it you inevitably have to accept that change is in order. Change is scary for anyone, addiction or no addiction, but change can be a good thing. People live their whole lives without accepting it, but the longer you hold back, the longer you stay right where you are and get deeper and deeper, ever worsening.
How To Overcome The Fear Of Change
Since change is intangible, you can’t see it or touch it, which makes it even harder to believe in. Try to create a vision for the change you want to see and achieve in your life. Write in a journal, draw what you want or create a visual mood board that you can see and reference every day to remind you of what you have to look forward to and why you’re doing what you’re doing.
The Fear Of Loss
Giving up your addiction can feel a lot like losing a friend or breaking up with a partner. Albeit, a co-dependent and toxic friend or partner, but one that has been there for you nonetheless. You did everything together and nothing apart. You also have to learn to live without your using or drinking friends. Learning to live without your addiction is scary for this very reason and is one of the biggest reasons that addicts fear getting better and making change.
How To Overcome The Fear Of Loss
Any friend who ditches you or gets mad at you just because you want to get sober or clean, isn’t a friend worth stressing over and better off without! It will be sad to lose your friends and your addiction. However, what you will gain in their place is so much more rewarding and satisfying. The more room you make for healthy and happy relationships in your life, the happier you will be.
The Fear Of Feeling
Your emotions and pain have been numbed. Anything that ever happened to you, you just drank, shot and smoked it all away. Take the drug and alcohol use out of the equation and all these feelings start taking over. The more time you spend being sober or clean, the more the feelings you feel and it can sometimes feel overwhelming to say the very least.
We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.
How To Overcome The Fear Of Feeling Again
It’s going to happen and you can’t stop it. You are stronger, braver and smarter than you think you are. Just feel the feelings and take a step forward anyway. Reaching out to a support group, Counsellor, Keyworker, family membor sponsor can help you navigate these feelings without compromising your recovery.
Recognise The Signs & Symptoms Of The Anxiety You Feel From Fear
When you share, you help someone else who is in a dark place, find the light to their path of recovery. If you are in recovery, we want to know about your experience with fear and how you overcame it. Share with us in the comments below or on our social media pages.
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