Fear, The Inside Story
Fear manifests in many forms, from butterflies in the stomach to a full-blown panic attack. This is commonly known as the “fight or flight” state or Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) Activation. God designed this automatic reflex to protect us in times of danger. We need to bring the body and mind back into balance or homeostasis. The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) controls homeostasis and is responsible for the body's "rest and digest" function.
While most people are not faced with life-threatening situations on a daily basis, our bodies perceive that we are. The body can’t differentiate between real or imagined stress and therefore activates the SNS. In this frame of mind, we can either take the active role in the driver’s seat or allow ourselves to become a passive passenger. Below are some of the ways to change the physiological reactions of fear and stress in the body and mind.
Focused Breath- As the saying goes “just breathe.” Slowing the breath lowers your heart rate, blood pressure. Counting on the inhale and exhale helps to bring focus to the breath. Reciting positive affirmations also assists with focus.
Meditation- During meditation healthy brain waves get stimulated, boosting our Alpha, Theta, & Delta Waves. It increases beneficial chemicals in the body such as Melatonin, Serotonin, and Endorphins. Meditation reduces Cortisol, a stress hormone that wreaks havoc on the body. Meditation also influences brain functions, increase neural plasticity, modulates autonomic, metabolic, endocrine, and immune functions.
Yoga- Moving through a flow of poses, or asanas, with focused breath opens and stretches the body relieving pain and even trapped emotions. Yoga releases dopamine and oxytocin and increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) all of these neurotransmitters decrease anxiety and improve the mood.
Music- Music releases Beta Endorphins which are the body’s natural opioid peptide transmitter. Try soft classical music, nature sounds or Binaural Beats.
Singing/Chanting- When you sing, vibrations move through you, altering your physical and emotional landscape. Endorphins and oxytocin hormones are released by singing. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding.
Inhale, diffuse or topically apply a calming fragrance- There are many choices of calming oils. Lavender is most commonly known for calming. Peppermint has a unique characteristic in that it can be either calming or invigorating and balances the body accordingly. My advice is to try a few oils that match other benefits to serve your needs. Essential oils stimulate the limbic region of the brain when inhaled.
Spiritual Faith- Having a spiritual belief in God helps to strengthen our faith in our life’s journey. We become more accepting and hopeful of a higher purpose and message in our circumstances. Having a spiritual faith has been proven to lower stress, anxiety, and depression.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
James 1:2-3 NLT