Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
Feeling Scared: A Guide To Your Emotions
Published Dec 23rd, 2020 & updated on Mar 19th, 2021
We all get scared sometimes. When something happens suddenly and unexpectedly, it can send us into a panic. It might feel like you’re frozen by this feeling. You can’t think, function or act rationally. Maybe you’re home alone and you think you hear the sound of a door closing (creepy AF!). Or your dog gets loose from the backyard so you’re running around the neighbourhood, hoping to bring them home safe and sound. It could be that you’re standing on the diving board at the pool with your friends cheering you on, but you all of a sudden you’re feeling scared so you freeze up and it’s like you forgot how to jump. You’re trapped in a state of fear and you don’t know how to get out!
Don’t worry, we’re here for you! Everyone gets scared, even the strongest people you know. In fact, we think it takes a lot of strength to recognize how you’re feeling! So let’s navigate how to overcome feeling scared, together.
A Deeper Look At Feeling Scared
When we feel scared, we’re in a state of fear, panic, or nervousness which can really shake us up. Our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode in order to protect us from any potential threats. Either face the danger head on (fight), get the hell outta there and save our asses (flight), or just straight up freeze!.
We can get scared for lots of reasons, and none of them make us weak or childish. It can be something as innocent as visiting a haunted house on Halloween or watching a horror movie with a ton of jump scares. Or it could be something that’s actually threatening to our safety, like getting in a car accident or falling down a flight of stairs. We can experience scary moments in our personal relationships if a loved one has a medical emergency or is very sick. Panic can set in when we realize we’ve made a huge error, like sending a text to the wrong person that they were NOT meant to see. That rush of fear, dread, and oh shit feeling is our brain’s way of telling us something bad might happen or is currently happening.
The shitty side to feeling scared is that we can’t always control the situation we’re in. Our minds and bodies respond to fear, whether we can actually escape the fear or not. You can exit a haunted house any time you feel like it’s too scary, or step down from the diving board if we don’t wanna jump. But feeling scared for the health and safety of our loved ones, dealing with the consequences of a big mess up, and handling other traumatic events like a natural disaster are all things that we can learn to get through.
How Feeling Scared Shows Up Mentally
Feeling scared can overwhelm your mind and make it hard to think rationally or clearly. Your brain is trying to process so many things at one time and it can kind of short circuit. It goes right into caveman mode – just trying its best to get us out of the danger it’s sensing. It can be a pretty debilitating emotion to experience. Here’s a few other ways feeling scared can affect you mentally:
- Intrusive, distracting thoughts
- Unable to focus
- Feelings of panic
Being scared is the opposite of a good time. It can be terrifying feeling stuck in such a scary space! And it can be extra frustrating if you aren’t able to focus long enough to help yourself exit this mental state. Maybe you can fight fire with fire and try to scare the “scaredness” out of your brain by dressing up as a ghost and yelling “BOO!” at yourself in the mirror. It’s worth a shot!
How Feeling Fearful Shows Up Physically
When you feel scared, your body can react in many ways. Your body thinks that there is danger nearby and is trying to protect you by releasing a BUNCH of different hormones that have you on high alert. Here are a few physical symptoms that you might experience (and no, they don’t mean you’re a scaredy cat):
- Increased heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Upset stomach
- Dry mouth
Don’t be too afraid if you end up having some of these symptoms. But if you think that you’re in immediate danger, obviously please call 911 or go to the hospital. We want to make sure that above all, you’re being a safe little anxious bean.
5 Ways To Cope With Feeling Scared
We know that telling you: Don’t be scared! isn’t exactly a helpful tip. So instead, we have some coping strategies for you to help you navigate this emotion! They’re easy, effective and not at all scary. We pinky promise!
1. Engage in something soothing and comforting
When you feel scared, try something that soothes and calms your nerves. Spend time with your pet by cuddling them or taking them on a walk. Touch something comforting like your fave cozy blanket. Brew some tea or your drink of choice. Do whatever helps you feel safe and relaxed!
2. Practice meditation
Meditation is a method that’s been used to relieve stress and improve mental clarity since, like… forever. This practice allows us to slowww down and shift our mindset. Sounds like something you could really use when you’re feeling scared! If you’re not sure how to meditate, start out with a guided practice.
3. Reach out for support
You might feel scared, but you don’t have to feel alone. So reach out to someone you can trust and confide in. They’ll be there for you, comfort you and validate all of your feelings. Having their support will make your feelings feel way less… well, scary! It’ll feel like a weight off your shoulders, guaranteed.
4. Comfort yourself like a friend
On the flip side, if you don’t have someone who can be there for you right now, that’s okay! Comfort yourself and be the friend that you need. Give yourself a pat on the back, snack on your favourite junk food and take some time for YOU. Remind yourself that you’ll get through this, and that everything will be okay.
5. Practice deep breathing
Okay, try it with us… Breathe innn. Breathe outtt. Taking a moment to focus on your breathing has actually been proven to lower anxiety and reduce stress. Plus, deep breathing slows your heart rate and provides your brain with enough oxygen to chill out. It’s like pressing a reset button!
Our emotions can be scary, we know. We hope this has helped you understand your scared feelings a bit better and put you on the right track to overcome them! Oh, and remember: your feelings are valid, always.