Stress & fear can hinder your life

by | FearLess

Stress and fear are a formidable combination that can rob you of living life to the full. A French writer from the 1600s, Francois de La Rochefoucauld said that we promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears.

I think that there is an element of truth to that statement. How often do we dream of starting that new business or pursuing a dream that we’ve carried, only to fall short of actually going for it? Our fears limit us in so many ways.

Don’t let fear get you down

Fear can tire you out and get down. I’ve spoken on this topic for a while now and recently saw first-hand how fear is wreaking havoc in people’s lives. I toured South Africa to share on overcoming fear, to live fully alive. Countless conversations later, one thing is certain. Fear is here to restrict, isolate, and lie to us. A lady came forward after my talk recently, telling me how she was so scared to drive in a car. She had to pep-talk herself to getting into a vehicle so she could come to the event. Sharing on fear of rejection and failure yielded nods from the audience.

Fear produces a stress response in our bodies

And now, at the time of Covid-19, fear is having a field day all over the world. Did you know that fear produces a stress response in your body? 

Now, I’m not talking about the stress response that propels you into action, such as running away from danger. But, rather the fear response that can hurt us in the long run.

Courage in the Fire bookIn Courage in the Fire, I explore this effect. Fear prepares us to react to danger. Once we sense we are in potential danger or threat, our body gets ready for fight-or-flight. Facing the effects of fear regularly can cause your body to release hormones such as adrenaline or noradrenaline. The energy generated by these triggers needs to go somewhere.

If it doesn’t get discharged through fight-or-flight, it can result in chronic stress problems, digestive problems, increased heart disease or other adverse health implications. Fear and stress are a deadly combination – be ruthless in getting rid of them and learn how to deal with the effects of stress well. 

Everything is linked

Too much fear converts to stress and anxiety, making our lives more complicated than they should be. The cause and effect produce a plethora of health issues that cost significant time and money to overcome. Fear of any kind and at any level produces stress responses in our bodies. Stress is your body’s way of protecting you from any demand or threat, be it real or imagined.

What causes stress in our bodies?

Two factors cause stress in our bodies. Any form of physical exertion is the first factor. And the second is not always easy to recognize because it is the stress our bodies experience due to fear. Because fear is the feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence of imminent danger or a reason for dread or apprehension, stress is present. The brain cannot distinguish between real or imagined threats, but the effect in your body is real. The ability to think, feel and act is all affected because, when you experience fear, you automatically focus on avoiding the threat.

Fear can present itself in our lives in differing degrees – from mild fear such as nervousness or apprehension to more moderate encounters which manifest in agitation, worry or anxiety. For example, I know of a woman who becomes hysterical at the mere mention of a snake. She struggles with ophidiophobia, an abnormal fear of snakes. A lady phoned me one day while I was on the radio, saying that she is afraid of driving in a car. She stays at home because of the anxiety this fear produces. 

“Fear always produces an associated stress (emergency) response. The degree of stress response is directly proportional to the degree of fear. The greater the fear, the more dramatic the stress response,” writes Jim Folk, President of anxiety.com.

Folk explains that a stress response will fire every time we experience fear. “Each fear message produces an associated stress response. Even though we may not feel the effects of a stress response reaction, one still occurs. The body always produces an associated stress response to each fear and one that is directly proportional to the level of fear. We don’t escape this reaction.”

How does it affect your life?

Talking to one of my friends about fear, she explained her inner conflict with these words: “Fear was the doorkeeper of my heart, as I was raised being fearful. When fearful thoughts came into my mind, then my imagination would take over with even worse thoughts. Without realizing it, fear took control of my life. I started to live it out by being anxious or fearful in my responses and in the choices that I made.” 

Any fear, at any level, will produce a stress response (flight-or-fight) in our body. The degree we experience the fear is directly proportional to the effect on our bodies. 

So, what can we do about it, especially in Covid times?

Recognize the fears that affect your life? Name them.

Come up with a plan to deal with those fears. What are your options? Perhaps make a list and then take it from there.

Build resilience and capacity in your life. You can do that by improving the quality of your sleep, up your exercise regime and monitor the self-talk going on in your head.

Then, start with small steps towards victory. It’s kind of like climbing a ladder. Take it one step at a time.

Let’s promise and live according to our hopes and not our fears.


Mandi Hart imageAre you looking for a way to walk fully free from fear?

Contact Mandi about the options available to you. She invites you into living free from fear and fully alive.

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