Practical Suggestions Dealing with Fear

This week I listened to the latest episode of the William & Mary Center for Corporate Education’s podcast “Leadership & Business”. It is titled “COVID-19 & Your Mental Health” and it is an interview with Dr. Kelly Crace, William & Mary’s Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness.

Dr. Crace makes seven suggestions for dealing with the anxiety that often happens during times like we are presently going through. I thought they were practical and helpful. You can listen to his full interview in the podcast but I will list his bullet points here, with a brief description beside each:

  • Focus on effective versus ineffective fear. There is a response to fear that motivates us to take action and one that paralyzes us. In faith, I would describe this as the difference between conviction and guilt. One pushes you to do better, while the other leads to inaction.
  • Become values focused amidst uncertainty. Knowing what is most important to you is a really good thing to know in fearful situations. Knowing your “one thing” gives you the strength to make good choices. That “one thing” is your North Star and you can navigate when you know where your “North Star” is.
  • Understand your personal experience and change and loss. Often we need to be able to talk about our fear and worries but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone needs to hear our fear and worries. Be observant of who talking about your fears with helps you and them and who it might affect negatively.
  • Realize that fear often makes possibility seem like probability. Fear can make the highly unlikely seem suddenly very likely. We need to plan for and react to the probable, rather than allowing any small possibility to control our everyday behavior. It is possible that I snake will make its way through a house’s plumbing and be in the toilet when you sit down, but it isn’t very likely. Realize that when we are scared we often think they near impossible is highly probable.
  • Stay informed, not stuck. Knowing the news can be a good thing. Staying informed is good. Yet spending all out time focused on the latest bit of news can send us down a spiral that is destructive. Follow the news but maybe skip the news shows and news entertainment.
  • Realize the difference between soothing & self-care. Self-care is helpful. It helps us to go forward and face difficult circumstances. Soothing eases pain but doesn’t necessarily help us to face difficult circumstances. Self-care is healthy. Soothing isn’t necessarily healthy. It can often be destructive.
  • Courage training – realize that struggling isn’t bad. Courage is doing the right thing even when you are struggling with fear. It implies struggle. Therefore, struggle isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So if you are struggling don’t think that it is necessarily a bad thing.

I thought these were good and helpful points so I wanted to share them.