“Addicted to fear? Who, me?”
That may be what you’re thinking. After all, who wants to believe that they are addicted to something like fear? Well, it can and does happen. It can be very sneaky, and although most people nowadays don’t realize it, they have this addiction.
When you are subjected to something that causes you to respond with fear to any degree, your body responds by increasing adrenaline output. Normally the fear would dissipate in a short time and the adrenaline output would resume to normal levels. However when you live in constant fear (such as stress, anxiety, anger, tension, dread) your adrenaline output remains high. After a while this becomes the norm for your body and causes behavior known as addiction.
Now here’s the thing. Your body has a safety feature called “stasis”. What this means is that whatever levels your organs operate at the majority of the time is considered standard for your body’s innate intelligence. So if you are operating at a high level of adrenaline the majority of the time, your body thinks that’s normal and is happy to be all stressed out all of the time. But if you have a change in your life and your adrenaline output is reduced, your body will send your brain a stimulus to create something that will increase the adrenaline back to a level where your body is comfortable. (You can read more about this in Joe Dispenza’s book, Evolve Your Brain.) This is when you find yourself addicted to stimuli that increase your fear and stress.
How do you know if you’re addicted to fear? If you answer “yes” to any or all of these questions you probably are addicted. Do you:
1. Feel that you have to watch TV news at least once a day?
2. Choose action and adventure movies over comedy and romance movies?
3. Work in a stressful job or one that you hate?
4. Live from paycheck to paycheck?
5. Have a stress-related illness or disease, such as high blood pressure, chronic digestive upsets, or headaches?
6. Find yourself thinking and talking about drama and negative events the majority of the time?
7. Have friends who are mostly high maintenance, such as drama queens and needy people?
So what do you do to stop your body from directing you to fearful things in order to feed its fear/adrenaline addiction? Here are a few tips:
1. Withdrawal: STOP WATCHING TV NEWS! You do NOT need to know all the horrible things that are going on in the entire world. You can’t do anything about most of those fearful things and that just increases your fear and frustration. Also, stop listening to news on the radio or reading the newspapers. These are the #1 sources of fear today. Ask yourself: when was the last time you saw a happy headline on the top of the front page of a newspaper or on TV news?
2. Substitution: Watch happy, funny movies on TV or DVD. Read humorous books. Listen to soothing music.
3. Flip switch: Shift your thoughts and inner visions to things that you love or find beautiful, comforting, or soothing.
4. Big Picture/Little Picture: This is a technique that I’ve found to be extremely effective. Envision whatever is causing you fear. Now envision it shrinking, getting smaller and smaller until it disappears. Next, with your inner vision see something that causes you to feel comfort, ease, relaxation. Make it bigger and bigger until it fills your vision.
5. Breathe: When you feel fear or any form of it, your breathing becomes shallow and sets in motion all the fear responses of your body. Consciously take a slow breath and send the air deep into your belly, filling your lungs from the bottom upward. You should be able to see your stomach distend as you do this breath. If your shoulders rise when you breathe, you’re shallow breathing. Release the breath slowly. Repeat at least two more times. (Special note to women: wearing a bra keeps you from breathing deeply so you may have to work a bit harder at this one or take off your bra.)
6. Soak out the toxins: Add Epsom salts to warm bath water to pull chemical toxins, such as the fear hormone cortisol, out of your body. Add a few drops of essential oil such as lavender to help you relax. Read an inspirational or humorous book or listen to relaxing music while you soak.
7. Get a hug: I know, I know. We’re supposed to stay 6′ from everyone. But there has to be someone in your life who you feel safe hugging. We need human touch to live.
8. Go outside: Get in touch with nature. Go barefoot on the grass in your yard or the sand at the beach. Touch a tree. Stick your hands in the dirt. Turn your face up to the sun. If it’s raining, turn your face up to the rain. (It’s a delicious feeling!)
9. Practice some form of meditation: If you don’t know how, learn. You don’t have to take a class. There are CDs and DVDs available. If sitting still isn’t for you, try Qi Qong, which is a sort of moving meditation.
10. __________________. You know what you can do to relieve your fear and stress. Just do it.