3 Science-Backed Ways to Handle FearBy Homaira Kabir
It was twilight and I had turned into the little alley to take the shorter route home. Suddenly something moved in the shrubbery. Before I could think, literally, I felt blood rush to my extremities and found myself turning back in panic. Within seconds though, it dawned upon me that it was merely a leaf rustling in the evening breeze, and I regained my composure. I had believed it to be something far more sinister, and my fear had kicked in way before my rational mind could.
Fear is part of our evolutionary journey—the oldest emotion we have inherited from the earliest reptiles of 600 million years ago in order to ensure our survival. We've managed to preserve it in the deepest recesses of our brains and carry it forth into the relative safety of the 21st century.
However, in today’s world, we rarely face the physical dangers that our hunter-gatherer ancestors did. Most of our fears are psychological, creations of an imagination that tries to protect an illusive ego. The classic fight, flight or freeze response shows up as the "attack, avoid or accommodate" tendency that harms our relationships and limits our full potential.
What are we to do? Here are 3 strategies to try.
Breathe from Your Belly
Our fear response is largely beyond our control. A pumping heart, blood rushing to our extremities, and the release of cortisol and adrenaline are all physiological reactions that run their course without our conscious input. But there is one we can control, and eastern meditation practices recognized its importance thousands of years ago. It's the breath. When we're fearful, we breathe shallowly from our chest—which is why our voice can squeak. Any vocal artist would recognize the importance of breathing from the belly to overcome fear and regain a commanding voice. In his book,