Since the dawn of time, fear’s shivers have ravaged the earth. Its shudders have unsettled us all at some point in our lives. At first glance, we might only see it as an emotional issue. But fear rises as a three-dimensional force, involving our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. These facets work interdependently, so addressing one or two won’t prove effective. Overcoming fear requires facing all three aspects.
Physical: Whether or not your anxiety reaches a clinical level, all fear has physical components. Our Creator designed our bodies to help us avoid harm. When faced with a threat, our endocrine and neurological systems prepare us to avert the risk. Stress activates a physiological process similar to a life-threatening attack. The body responds the same way to actual emotional or physical threats as it does to perceived threats. An imagined risk or excess stress can quickly lead to unhealthy patterns of fear. We might also inherit or develop imbalances which cause the medical condition of clinical anxiety.
Nurturing the body to alleviate tension caused by imbalances can ease your physical triggers for fear. Anxiety can surface with little provocation if certain physical conditions exist within you. Like many other medical conditions, intense levels of anxiety could require prescribed medication. With or without a prescription, we can all improve our self-care habits to reduce fear’s potential to overtake our well-being.
Nutrition matters. Our bodies develop emotional regulators in the gut before they head into the nervous system. Nourishing the brain begins with choosing an anti-inflammatory, high omega diet while avoiding toxins and stimulants.
Exercise has a dramatic impact upon neurochemistry and emotional regulation. A simple, brisk walk can enhance production of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine to boost mood and reduce stress. Cardiovascular activity also increases oxygen levels and improves blood flow, both of which benefit brain function. Physical movement can bolster the body’s fear immunity.
Sleep quality is vital to wellness. Dream cycles allow us to heal physically and emotionally. We undergo emotional and cellular renewal during REM sleep. Relaxation breathing and prayerful meditation can replace some dream cycle benefits and might help anxious insomniacs fall asleep.
Mental: Whether you experience recurring worry or paralyzing anxiety, direct attempts to change your feelings won’t work. Simply rebuking your emotions or telling yourself not to feel afraid leads to discouragement. Targeting the source proves far more effective than attacking the fear. Emotions pivot on the fulcrum of thoughts. The secret to overcoming fear lies in managing patterns set in motion by the mind. When we pinpoint thought-triggers, we can shift our minds onto a different track and the emotions follow.
Spiritual: Struggling with anxiety does not indicate a lack of faith or demon possession. Scripture mentions fear 366 times, perhaps because the Lord knew we would face its challenges daily. The message of Scripture points toward hope for freedom, not condemnation. God’s Word empowers us with the opposite of fear — love (1 John 4:16-18). When we dwell in and trust God’s love, fear loses its spiritual power over us. The enemy of our souls will continue his efforts to trap us with worry and fear, but we can take up Scripture as our sword to fight his daily attacks.
We’re not made to fight our fears alone. Confessing our worries and fears weakens the mental stronghold these thoughts enjoy when they remain only inside our heads. And our Creator designed us to support one another in compassion and prayer. Mature Christian counsel from a mentor, pastor, or professional can offer the keys to triumphant results.
Consider the following tips as powerful weapons to help you overcome fear:
- Manage your thoughts. Recognize negative thoughts as early as possible. Keep a list of scriptures on hand to counter the negative thoughts with truth (Philippians 4:8).
- Get fear out of your head. Journal your anxious thoughts. Circle exaggeration words (always, worst, never, impossible, e.g.). Exaggeration contaminates partial truths and renders them lies (1 Peter 5:7-8).
- Trade up. Exchange “what if” thoughts for “even if, then God” affirmations. Beside each recurring fear, list at least one scripture triumphing over the worst possibility (Philippians 4:6-7).
- Take your thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Write your fears on slips of paper and submit them to God’s hands in a tangible way (in the pages of a Bible, under a scripture rock, e.g.). Keep your heart aligned with grace, not condemnation (Romans 8:1). The enemy will attack with the same thoughts again, but you don’t have to add shame to the fear.
- Don’t isolate. Seek fellowship with mature, compassionate believers for study and prayer (Genesis 2:18, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, James 5:16).
- Breathe and pray often. Take a few minutes throughout each day to practice relaxation breathing with prayerful meditation (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
- Try tapping with a prayerful focus. Tap the lymph centers during thought process shifts to release spiritual, cognitive, and physical toxins at the same time.
- Stretch and move. Increase physical activity to improve stress resilience in your body and brain.
- Laughter enhances immunity and offers powerful mood boosting effects (Proverbs 17:22).
- Invite Jesus to share your meals. Include prayer and Christian friends on your journey to healthy nutrition for the mind and body (Acts 2:46-47).
Empowered by the Holy Spirit to maintain healthy habits, you can overturn the battle against fear. One partnered step at a time.
Order a copy of Beautiful Warrior: Finding Victory Over the Lies Formed Against You by Tina Yeager
Award-winning author, inspirational speaker, and life coach, Tina Yeager also hosts the Flourish-Meant podcast and publishes Inkspirations Online, a weekly devotional for writers. She has won over thirty writing awards, including a 2020 Golden Scroll Award and 2013 FCWC Writer of the Year. Her fiction and nonfiction strive to clarify how we might relate better to others, to ourselves, and to God. Licensed as a counselor since 2005, she has over twenty years of experience teaching adults, teens, and children in academic, clinical, and faith-based settings. Learn more at TinaYeager.com
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