Practical Ways to Relieve
Fear and Anxiety
I want to encourage you today. Despite everything going on in our world, it is possible to feel better. Negative emotions like fear and anxiety may be caused by actual events, stories from others or even our own imagination. Sometimes it's hard to tell.
Today in a world of uncertainty, many of us are experiencing fear and anxiety like never before and everyone is at risk. Perhaps your life coaching or counseling clients are telling you of their own fear and anxiety. I want you to know there is help.
This article will explain actions you can take to reduce fear and anxiety. We will start with where these emotions begin (a little brain science) and how they can escalate dangerously if not controlled by taking practical, positive actions.
I recently wrote an article for another of our academies on this topic and found the material so helpful, I decided to write on this topic for you as well.
Witnessing the fear and anxiety of others can affect you as well. A relatively recent discovery in neuroscience (study of the brain) has revealed that we as humans (and all primates for that matter) have mirror neurons in our brains.
Has this happened to you: You’re at a gathering and a person yawns. Just as if on cue, you yawn also.
It works the same way when someone smiles at you. In a moment you instinctively are smiling back. Have you ever cried over a movie during a sad scene?
Your mirror neurons are responsible for your reactions. Mirror neurons help us accommodate social signals and become more social, empathetic and compassionate.
This has even more implications with our emotions. As an example, we might already be experiencing fear and anxiety on our own. Then, when we see people around us or even on TV experiencing fear and anxiety, our own emotions become heightened as we subconsciously begin to mimic what we see.
Maybe you thought you were just being emotional. Instead, your mirror neurons had gone into action spontaneously before you knew it or even had a chance to think about it.
According to research neuroscientist Dr. Giocomo Rizzolatti, “Our survival depends on understanding the actions, intentions and emotions of others. . . . Mirror neurons allow us to grasp the minds of others not through conceptual reasoning but through direct simulation. By feeling, not by thinking.” (Blakeslee)
“Living beings are genetically coded to mimic,” says Adi Jaffe, Ph.D.
Creating stronger community ties relies on similar responses to events. We are created with instinctive survival instincts. When you are a member of a thriving community, survival possibilities are improved for all members.
Even though mirror neurons can make you smile in response to another's smile, they can also cause us to react in negative ways when others around us are doing so. They can make us sad, frustrated and even in cases, violent. Consider an angry mob, where their anger feeds off one another. Mirror neurons at work.
Surely on a cognitive level, you understand why some behaviors are beneficial and others aren’t. But mirror neurons don’t seek approval from your prefrontal cortex, where rational reasoning takes place.
Perhaps you can now better understand why it’s crucial to limit media consumption during these times. All types of media are vying for your attention, shock and reactions. The higher our emotional level, the more compelled we will be to watch and engage.
Better ratings translate to an increase in advertising revenue. So we can see how exploitation of dramatic events would naturally drive ratings wars.
Our job is to avoid their impact, if we are to lead peaceful, joy-filled, creative lives. And this is within each person’s reach.
Our Solution: A Multi-Faceted Approach
During these times, we must take a multi-faceted approach. These include:
- lifestyle modifications such as avoiding negative media
- increasing our self-care regimens
- prayer and meditation
- reducing contact with toxic personalities (you know who they are) and …
- adequate sleep and rest
How can we make the most of our mirror neurons?
As a coach or counselor, it’s a huge benefit to connect with others’ emotions to better understand their feelings. The connection and community we develop works to our advantage.
Here are some points to keep in mind:
Positive signals are more contagious than negative signals, so do your best to surround yourself with positive, caring people. But we don’t want to completely avoid those who are sad because everyone needs support at times. This way we can be our best selves to support them in whatever they are going through.
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
~ John 14:27 KJV
Imitate positive people and do the things they do. Smile more often even if you have to do so deliberately. One of the things students learn in my Joy Restoration Coach certification course is that our emotions will follow our physiology. This means that when we smile, our brain releases feel-good endorphins, because it doesn’t know the difference between a spontaneous smile and deliberate one. Maintain healthy thoughts, meditate on powerful scriptures, and take on some positive affirmations to remind you who you truly are in Christ. You are loved and highly valued.
Count to 10 before saying or doing anything, especially if it’s in response to something negative. Remember that others have mirror neurons also. When you remain calm, patient and polite, your peaceful emotional state will help others remain calm.What kind of difference will knowing this make in your life? If you found this article helpful please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about any aha's that you experienced.
Want to dive deeper into learning coaching or counseling skills? I encourage you to consider enrolling in one of my transformational, biblically-based, coaching or counseling courses. I promise that your life will change as you increase your abilities to help others. You can find the courses here..
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