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Fighting Fear

Larissa Shaw - Fighting Fear

Fear is an unpleasant emotion that we have all felt at some point in our lives. Fear arises from a sense of danger, harm or threats of it. It is the body’s natural way to go into protection mode. You would have heard the terminology flight, fright or freeze – also known as hyperarousal or acute stress response; where body responds to a perceived harmful event, attack or threat by fighting, fleeing or freezing in an attempt to survive. When you are in an abusive relationship, these feelings become heightened and experienced on a more frequent basis. Fear becomes a part of your daily life and if not kept in check, can consume your mind and body. This heightened state can leave individuals to fear situations that are far from life or death and before you know it, the body becomes stressed and worried all the time and you are constantly walking around in fear.

Fight or FlightWhen our bodies become stressed, it elevates our bodies cortisol levels. Cortisol is released in response to fear or stressful situations by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-flight-freeze mechanism. Elevated levels are known to interfere with our memory, learning, immune function and also has the ability to increase weight, bloody pressure, cholesterol and heart disease. High cortisol levels increase the risk for depression and mental health illness. Fear increases cortisol levels in our bodies, which can be dangerous and damaging to our health. Participating in regular physical activity decreases fear by increasing self-confidence and resilience, therefore reducing cortisol levels in the body.

Fear is a strong emotion that has the ability to hold us back in life and from reaching our goals and full potential. The emotion becomes a barrier that hinders our progression and prevents us from learning and growing as an individual. Fear can come in many forms; fear of loss, fear of moving on, fear of moving forward, fear of change, fear of failure and a fear of being alone. Over the years I have had many conversations with victims and survivors of abusive relationships. One of the questions I ask during our conversation is why do you stay? Their response is not, because I am happy, I am in a loving respectful relationship, my partner brings out the best in me. No, the answer comes down to a fear of being alone. Why are we sacrificing our own happiness? Why are we allowing fear to control our lives and moving forward?

How do we fight fear?

Bad experiences or being in a similar situation or familiar environment can be a trigger for the fear response and can often cause instant panic and a fear induced adrenalin dump in preparation to fight, flight or freeze response. To fight fear, we need to face it, acknowledge the emotion, explore why we feel fear so that we are better able to respond to it. Often writing down our emotions can help identify why we feel what we feel. Some people find it difficult, uncomfortable or confronting to talk about their emotions, so writing them down is a less intrusive way to explore your emotions.

We can fight fear by participating in a regular physical fitness regime. You not only work out your physical body, you also work out your mind. It is our mind that controls our mood, our emotions and our decisions. Engaging in physical fitness activities improves your overall physical health, mental health and fitness level. It also naturally lowers cortisol levels which allows you to think more clearly, make better informed decisions, build resilience and self-confidence. Building on these factors makes you better equipped to fight the fear factor. STAAR Fitness works on the concept “Movement is Medicine” for this very reason. Fight the fear factor and #STAARTNOW.