Halloween is coming… are you ready to be afraid?
Fear is the strongest of emotions and anxiety is what fear generates. I personally, do not enjoy being afraid, and I do not particularly like horror films. My philosophy is that, since being frightened is not pleasant, why suffer terror for no reason. The day I find myself in a real frightening situation I will deal with it, in the meantime, I don’t need to be terrified, thank you very much. However, sometimes I think I am in the minority. Many of my friends and family love horror movies. There is a big industry around them, and in recent years the American festival of Halloween seems to have arrived here in the UK and other parts of the world, and it is growing in importance. In Spain, where I am from, the same time of year is linked to the “Día de Todos Los Santos” (the day of all saints), on the first of November, which is the day when deceased family members are remembered and their graves visited. This is of course celebrated in a big style in Mexico’s “Day of the Dead”. There seems to be some sort of consensus around this time of year to reference death and ghoulish things. Perhaps it is good to create occasions to familiarise ourselves with the idea of death and fear and conquer it by making fun of it.
The imminent arrival of Halloween is, therefore, giving me the opportunity to talk about FEAR. This intense emotion that has a presence in everybody’s life, except for psychopaths, who by some brain abnormality are unable to feel fear. So, except psychopaths, all of us feel fear at some point in our lives. Of course, there is fear and fear, since there are different levels according to the thing or situation we fear. Sometimes, it could be said to be an overused word because the fear of, for example, being criticised does not seem comparable to the fear of being killed by a sniper or a bomb in a combat zone. Yet, in both cases, it is down to our instinct to survive, to protect ourselves. Hence, why It is the most powerful of all emotions because it is there ultimately to keep us alive.
As essential to our survival as Fear/Anxiety are, they are not very nice feelings or emotions to have. They are positively unpleasant. However, if it were less unpleasant, it would be rather useless at keeping us safe, because we might not be bothered to react in times of danger. Fear creates stress, mental and physical distress and sets in motion a series of body reactions and physiological changes that has two main functions. One) to make us react in times of danger by triggering the “flight or fight response” which enable us to run fast, fight hard or play dead, in order to protect ourselves. Two) it makes us feel anxious when we come near, in reality, or imagination, to the thing or situation that made us fearful.
Fear, therefore, is the root of anxiety and anxiety is useful to steer us away from dangerous things and situations. The problem is that, when anxiety becomes chronic and not proportional to the threat, it becomes useless as a protection mechanism. Moreover, it makes life very difficult and restricted for the person suffering from excessive anxiety. Basically, it can be compared to a home alarm system that has gone wrong and goes off all the time when there is no need. The constant noise of the alarm makes life very unpleasant, but because it happens too often, it is not good at dealing with a real emergency.
The good news is that the same way as an alarm system can be reset to the correct setting, so can anxiety. Today there a number of methods and treatments such as hypnotherapy and special somatic treatments to reset anxiety to its original healthy settings.
If you want to know more about how to lower your anxiety levels, email me at [email protected].