We live in a culture driven by fear. It plagues our cities like the thickest pollution – hovering over us, driving our thoughts and dictating the way we live our lives. Every news story, every insurance company and every politician hoping to be elected is searching for ways to turn a profit from your fear. The rates of anxiety are rapidly rising across almost all age groups with generalized anxiety disorder affecting over 6.8 million adults in the Unites States. Living in a constant state of fear and anxiety weakens your immune system, increases gastrointestinal problems, decreases fertility and can even cause cardiovascular damage. Fear is making us sick.
So how do you combat a lifestyle of fear while also maintaining reasonable safety boundaries? Obviously crime and illness are real and we need to have some level of awareness without driving ourselves crazy. Here are three easy steps you can take to calm your fears and live in a more peaceful state of mind.
1). Knowledge is Power. In the past 24 hours I have had two friends bring my attention to potentially horrific things that could happen to my children. One was related to human trafficking and one was about a very rare illness in my area. Both caused my fear to spike and I felt that familiar sickening sensation in my gut. However, in both cases when I sought out reliable sources and educated myself on the risk factors my fears were dramatically reduced. Knowledge empowers you to view a situation as it actually is instead of how you fear it could potentially be.
2). Make a Plan. Once you are equipped with the facts then you can create a plan of action. I properly assessed the risks to my children and asked myself what (if anything) I could do to reduce their risk any further. In this case I came to the conclusion that I need to prioritize teaching my kids to wash their hands more regularly – It’s an area I tend to be lazy about. I decided to buy a more accessible stool for them and make it a priority. With proper knowledge and a plan in place my fears were reduced even further. If you live in chronic fear of assault then it would be worthwhile to enroll in a self defense class and equip yourself with tools to face the situation both in real life and in your mind.
3). Replace the Fear With Something Positive. It is extremely difficult to empty your mind of a negative thought without replacing it with something positive. Fear is a rut we fall into and in order to dig our way out we have to train our mind to think differently. Turn on music or an audio book and chose to think of something different. If you are religious you may benefit from prayer or meditation.
Danger is real, but often our fears become exaggerated in our own minds and cause us to live in a state of near panic. Take a few minutes to think through the things that trigger your deepest fears and equip yourself with knowledge to face those situations. Asses the real risks of your fears and make a reasonable plan of action to reduce your risk. Above all, train your mind to dwell on truth and replace your negative thoughts with uplifting ones. Don’t let our culture of fear steal your joy and assault your health.