Ghosts, goblins, and witches - oh my! It's the time of year when we celebrate everything scary, dress up in crazy costumes, and try to resist those big bags of individually-wrapped candy bars.
Haunted houses might be frightening, but often what keeps us awake is a much deeper issue than those things that go bump in the night. With Halloween just around the corner it is the perfect time to contemplate the things we fear most in our lives.
Fears are what hold us back from living our lives to the fullest. So how do we gather up the courage to face those fears and move forward?
Six Courageous Ways to Face Your Fears This Halloween
Understand what you are afraid of.
You can't know how to combat something if you're unsure of what you're actually fighting. Acknowledging what your fears are is the first step in separating yourself from them. This helps you to not only better understand yourself but also choose how you want to take action. It's a very empowering first step.
Let yourself be vulnerable.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable goes hand-in-hand with courage. It means having the will to expose your weaknesses to whatever you might face, which is pretty scary in itself. However, much of the research that is around understanding fear has found that those more willing to be vulnerable are also less fearful.
Create a positive mindset.
Some research has found that athletes that repeated positive affirmations before a competition improved their performance. If you find yourself saying you cant do something, simply swap out that negative word for something more positive. Instead of saying, "I can't speak in front of a large group of people," say, "I can learn to be confident in speaking in front of a large group of people."
Practice facing your fears.
Yes, this means doing exactly what scares you. Take small steps at first in exposing yourself to those fears and little by little you'll get better at overcoming them. Afraid of chatting up someone you find attractive? Start small by talking to the stranger next to you in line at the grocery store. Each time you practice you will gradually improve your abilities.
Learn how to manage anxiety.
Stress and heightened anxiety are connected with fear, so having a plan in place for how to address these reactions can be very helpful. When you feel your heart rate racing while facing a fear, pause for a moment to take some big deep breaths. Pull up funny photos of your children or friends on your phone and let yourself smile. Even laying the groundwork ahead of time with a full night of sleep, plenty of exercise, and regular yoga or meditation goes a long way for lowering stress overall and making it easier to handle fears.
Do other things you find scary.
You might not be terribly afraid of heights, but jumping off of a 25-foot high dive takes some courage. Even if it's not the fear you're working to address, exercising courage will help make it easier to flex that muscle when you really need it.
There are plenty of very scary things out there, but don't let the fears in your mind hold you back from getting what you want out of life.
Have a Happy and Healthy Halloween!
[Credit: Gregorie, Carolyn. The Science of Conquering Your Fears -- And Living A More Courageous Life. Huffington Post.]