Controlling Fears

Home Page - Our Adventures -   Bonus Mysteries!! - Jeannine's Blog - Monster Activity Schedule - Monster Hunt Gallery -   Hall of Fame! - Monster Games! - Facing Your Fears : Self-Help Tips - More Help For Facing Fears - _  _ _ _ School & Library Programs - _  _ _ _ Accelereader  Program - _  _ _ _   Free Downloads - _  _ _ _ About the Author - Contact Us - Monster Hunt Clues -

Dealing With Fears - Anxiety Self-Help Tips for Kids

A Monster Hunter (or anyone else, for that matter) must learn to conquer fear to defeat the monsters.  We have contacted some experts, and they have provided us with a few helpful tips:


Tips for Controlling Your Fears

  Everyone has felt it at one time or another: an urge to scream and run as far away as you possibly can.  Sometimes this is actually fun, like when we ride a roller-coaster or go to a scary movie.  But often, this feeling is very upsetting, and one that we wish we could just make go away.  If something causes you to feel this way over and over again, you may have a phobia.


What is a phobia?

A phobia is a strong fear of a something when it is not really dangerous. There are a great many things that can cause a phobia, including a fear of animals or bugs, fear of lightning and thunder, and fear of the dark.  These fears cause an unpleasant feeling called anxiety.  When a feeling like this happens, we often do almost anything to avoid the thing we are afraid of. Unfortunately, that often just makes the phobia worse.

What does anxiety feel like?  

When you are anxious, you become very tense, and your breathing becomes fast and shallow.  You may get butterflies in your stomach or feel like your heart is pounding inside your chest.  You may become dizzy, or feel your throat grow tight.  You may cry or even feel like throwing up.

Whatever it feels like, you should know that anxiety is perfectly normal, and that all humans and animals feel fear.  In nature, anxiety helps keep us safe.  When an animal in the wild hears or sees something strange nearby, it tenses, which prepares it to react quickly if it turns out to be something dangerous.  Fears are only a problem when we react strongly to something that is not really harmful, and that reaction makes us feel bad or prevents us from doing things we want to do.  If that happens, you may want to look for ways to help reduce your anxiety symptoms.





Some Self-Help Strategies For Dealing With Fears


The most effective way of overcoming fear is called desensitization.  Desensitization means making the fear grow weaker by facing what scares us over and over again until it doesn't bother us anymore.  But just letting something scare us over and over doesn't help: we must learn to how to overcome the feelings that the thing we fear produces.  To do this, we need to identify exactly how it affects us.  Does your throat get dry?  Does your breathing become shallow?  Do you get the shivers?  If we can control these symptoms, we can change how the thing we fear affects us. 

 There are many ways that we can try to control our feelings.  The one you use to lessen your anxiety depends on you: what works for one person may not work for another, so you may need to try several different techniques before you find the right one.

For many people, two of the best are breathing exercises and coping statements

Breathing exercises are used to control the shallow, fast breathing that comes with anxiety.  To perform breathing exercises, you first put one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen, just below your stomach.  Focus on breathing deeply, making sure that your abdomen moves when you inhale rather than your chest. It also helps to slow down your breathing, making your breaths longer.  You can even try to hold your breath for a few seconds.  Some people find that whistling or humming make it easier to slow down their breaths when they exhale.  The deeper and longer our breaths, the more the symptoms of anxiety are relieved.

Coping statements are special words we speak to ourselves that help keep our feelings from getting out of control.  Everyone's coping statements can be different, but many involve reminding ourselves that the thing we fear isn't really dangerous, or telling ourselves positive messages that help us feel strong and confident, like saying, "I am brave, I am strong.  Fear will not control me."  Sometimes making a rhyme or even setting our words to music make it easier to keep repeating them when we start to feel tense.

When you have mastered some ways of relieving the feeling of anxiety, you are ready to begin facing your fears.  But, like getting into a hot bath, you shouldn't jump in all at once.  Instead, ease you way in slowly:

  1. Test your ability to control your fears first on one of your least threatening fears.
  2. Start by just thinking about what scares you.  Imagine yourself experiencing it, and practice using your coping skills if you start to feel anxious.  Do the same using pictures and/or sounds of what you fear if possible.
  3. When you feel that you can control your anxiety, try facing your fear from a distance.  As you grow more comfortable, gradually decrease the distance between yourself and the fearful object, and increase the amount of time spent confronting it.
  4. Fight the urge to run away or give up. Use your breathing exercises and coping statements to help manage your anxiety.
  5. Afterwards, point out to yourself that nothing bad happened.
  6. Follow steps 2-5 again and again until you feel confident that you can cope.
  7. When you are ready, move on to a more challenging fear.

Desensitization is a very effective way of fighting phobias, but it is by no means the only way.  There are many other ways of dealing with fears, and the anxiety they produce.

 Exercise is another helpful way to control anxiety. Exercise reduces stress and makes you feel more relaxed.

Reinterpretation can also help.  Reinterpretation means changing the way we look at things.  Think about going on a roller-coaster ride.  We experience the exact same feelings on the ride as when we are anxious: extreme tension, pounding heart, butterflies in the stomach, etc., but on the roller-coaster we welcome these feelings.  Because all the people around us are feeling this anxiety and enjoying it, we are more likely to join with them in thinking of it as fun.

Building Self Esteem

Self-esteem means feeling good about yourself.  Low self-esteem can make the anxiety worse in many ways.  It can cause feelings of shame or guilt, and make you feel alone, isolated, and depressed.  One important way of building self-esteem is learning to behave assertively.  Being assertive means expressing your feelings and beliefs in a direct and honest manner.  When we hold back from speaking our feelings, we make the sense of shame and loneliness even stronger.  So, even if the tips in this article help you feel better, that doesn't mean that you should face this problem on your own.  Never be afraid to talk about your feelings with someone you know and trust.  They might even be able to help, or know someone else who can.

Remember: Do not feel guilty or ashamed for feeling scared.

Fear is a normal, natural feeling that all people have. 

Although you might think of your phobia as strange or even embarrassing, you may be surprised to find that many others have the same fears that you do.  Lots of famous people, from presidents to movie stars, have  phobias about riding in elevators, facing circus clowns, or even sitting on toilets.  You are not alone.