Fear: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat”
When I was young, fear was an emotion I felt when I was watching a scary movie. In middle school, I had a fear of my peers picking on me. In high school, I had a fear that no one would ask me to prom. Now, I have a fear of not being able to find a stable job or finding a life-long partner/losing a loved one/becoming terminally ill/getting a bad grade etc. Honestly, the list goes on and on.
Fear and anxiety can cause so many unnecessary health issues.
When you’re stressing yourself out over something so unpredictable (pretty much the whole entire future, in my case!!) it can really take a toll on your health. I learned this the hard way.
Anxiety: “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome”
I have never been officially diagnosed with any anxiety-related issues, but I can say almost without a doubt that I struggle with at least some form of anxiety. After talking to some of my friends and telling them my raw, or unedited if you will, thoughts they always are so shocked that I could ACTUALLY think the things that I do. I honestly always thought that everyone was worried and nervous all the time. (That’s not the case!)
I often start worrying about something that might happen when I’m retired. For instance, who’s going to take care of me when I’m too old to do it myself?? What if my husband dies before me?? These thoughts will randomly come to me and I could think about it ALL DAY.
At school, I am constantly worried about grades and making time for all the activities I’m involved in. This is somewhat of a good thing, because when I’m busy I’m much less likely to reflect on my stress, but when I’m alone and have nothing in particular to do, it comes crashing on me like a tidal wave.
I had more free-time in college last year which led to lots more time to reflect on my stress. I started to notice that my stomach would hurt so badly that I couldn’t concentrate. My hands would sweat profusely. My heart rate would be up so high and pump so hard I could hear it. I was so scared. I wasn’t scared of anything in particular, I just started putting all those stupid “What Ifs” in my head. Of course the unknown cause of the stomach pain just made me more worried!
Turns out that emotions of fear and anxiety can cause your digestion to go all wonky. When your body is scared, it shuts down things it doesn’t need to survive, like digestion. When your body is in survival mode, it can also increase heart rate and blood flow to your muscles so that you can run faster (to get away from the source of your fear). Sadly, my fears are all future oriented and I can’t run from the future!
Another major thing that I’ve always struggled with since I was little is sleep. I take so long to get to sleep. I think WAY too much. When I’m stressed, it only gets worse.
Here’s some things that I like to do to help keep my mind off of my fears.
- Exercise (I like to run in particular!)
- Listen to music
- Color my adult coloring book
- Watch Netflix
- Be Productive (The feeling of completing something can make me feel so much better)
- Talk with a friend (About anything!)
- Think about all the things in my life that I love
- Avoid caffeine (I just end up feeling more nervous)
- Eat healthy (It makes me feel like I have control over my life)
- Drink decaffeinated tea
So there’s my first post for my series Let’s Talk! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. I know everyone deals with anxieties and stress differently!
What are your fears? Have you ever been so stressed that you’ve had physical side effects? How do you deal with stress?
I’d love to know! You can let me know down in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also feel free to suggest any topics for the next post on this series!
Thanks for reading!