Big life moments bring big feelings. One feeling that is almost always around during these moments, is feeling scared.
This is a topic you don’t read much about on the interwebs, but it is a very important issue. There is a widely held belief that being scared is something you don’t feel when you are an adult. The truth is, you can feel scared at any age and any stage. It isn’t something reserved for our younger selves. I’ve noticed that when people are moving towards a new life stage, a new job or adventure, illness for self or others or facing some harder life moments such as divorce, moving house, resolving conflict or advocating for yourself – we all feel scared. This is often mixed with other feelings, happiness, relief, sadness, anger, but scared is there, nearly always.
And rightly so. The unknown is unnerving. Facing into our fears and major life events can be overwhelming, requiring us to find a port in a storm. Most often, the other side of the storm lies calm seas again, however, we still must navigate these seas.
Here are my tips to support yourself when you are feeling scared:
1. Notice your feelings: Our bodies often register our feelings before our brains have made sense of what is happening. Take some time to check into your body and notice what is happening. Fear or feelings of being scared can manifest in a tummy that is ‘fizzy’ or ‘hot’. Tension might sit in hands, shoulders and neck. Feet might tap and move. These are all normal ways of your body discharging the surplus energy that ‘energy in motion' (emotion) bring. It’s also your body’s way of letting you know that something is moving for you.
2. Bring self-compassion to the table: Too often we aren’t kind to ourselves when we are facing a life event that is difficult. Being kind is about knowing your love language and rest needs and providing them for yourself in ways that allow you to ‘rest and digest’. This is the only way to allow your body the time that it needs to recover. Which brings me to my final tip:
3. Avoid maladaptive coping strategies: These are things that bring immediate relief, but do not provide recovery opportunities or address the root cause. Notice any needs to self-medicate like excess drinking, smoking, shopping, fighting with significant others and realise you are trying to ease your own discomfort. Whilst this is always a primary goal, we must build strong coping skills, rather than maladaptive coping mechanisms, which ultimately do more harm than good. If you don’t have well identified coping mechanisms you can leverage, don't worry. These can be built. First try reading this, or this, and secondly, find yourself a good psychologist to work with you and support you during this time.
How do you support yourself when you are sad?