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Mindset

Instead of Making Fear About Stress, Let’s Make Fear Fun

If you’re wondering what to do about stress and anxiety, I can tell you because I lived it for most of my life. Does stress cause depression? You bet it does. I’ve got some great tips about stress management and the best remedy I’ve found completely takes away your fear about stress.

The Problem With Fear

It steals your energy. Every thought you think triggers an emotion with a physical response, and I can’t think of a more powerful example than the boomerang effect of fearful thoughts. I discovered the details of this biological link when I was studying under Gregory Caremans in a course he created for Udemy called “Master Your Brain.” Your Reptilian Brain only has 3 strategies, with no ability to remember, learn or adapt. It’s that survival instinct that kicks into gear in a heartbeat, also known as the Fight or Flight Response. The Reptilian Brain is switched on by “perceived” threats, worrying about something that might never happen.

You may have experienced some of the many reactions to fear: shaking, sweating, nausea, dry mouth, faster breathing, heart palpitations, panic attacks or dizziness. It’s not fun, especially when it affects your personal health. According to the Mayo Clinic chronic stress can “wreak havoc” on your mind and body. Here’s the gist: your subconscious takes over and floods your system with everything it needs to survive in the moment. I live in the South, and we’re no stranger to gators here, so instead of using the typical “being chased by a tiger” example, I’m going to ask you to imagine yourself out on the golf course, walking up to your golf ball, getting ready to take the perfect swing, right next to that lovely pond…um…we’ve seen 12 foot gators right in our back yard mind you, and it will set you back, I promise.

The source of the threat can be internal, as in an illness, or external, as in the gator. External always comes first because who cares if you’re sick, you may just get eaten and then it really doesn’t matter, does it? Physically, the body shuts down all unnecessary processes such as digestion, and all blood is diverted to the arms and legs, enabling us to get out of harm’s way. Guess where the blood’s not going? To your vital organs. Your immune system plummets because the organs “stop doing their life-sustaining work of digestion, absorption, excretion and other functions that provide for the growth of the cells and the production of the body’s energy reserves.” That’s a quote from Dr Lipton, who wrote the book “The Biology of Belief.” I know you’re not going to face a gator every day, but you can find plenty of other things in your life that cause you to constantly worry, like your finances, your relationships, fear of failure, fear of success. Yes, that fear of success is REAL because it means even though you may be successful, you’re worried you’re not worthy of it and can’t sustain that success. Am I right?

You May Not Think You’re Afraid, but Have You Noticed Yourself Defending Your Limiting Beliefs?

What’s a limiting belief?

  • It’s too much work, forget it.
  • I don’t have time.
  • She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
  • I don’t care.
  • I’m technologically challenged.
  • I’ll never have enough money to have a nice house.

Are you painting a picture of the outcome without knowing for sure that what you fear most is actually going to happen? This is your future we’re talking about. You have the power to change your mind and set the expectation that everything’s going to be okay. All you have to do is imagine the best possible outcome.

Aside from more legitimate fears, like death by cancer, let’s lighten it up a bit and discuss the kind of fear that floats around under the radar.

Back In The Day…

I used to be a paid actor, earning my way of living by singing and dancing. What fun, right? Wrong! I was incredibly insecure. Let me tell you a story about one of my favorite places in the world, Beef and Boards Dinner Theater. It was April 1988, and we were putting on the show “Singing in the Rain.” This was quite the big production because my friend Ed, the stage manager, had to figure out how to rig up live rain without electrocuting everyone involved. Here’s a photo of the cast.

judy j lutz fear about stress

That’s me on the far left. I played Dora Bailey, a character part because I really could act and was quite the comedienne, however it was a devastating demotion for me personally. You see, I wanted to be a singer/dancer. They were so much more beautiful! I had this crazy ugly red wig and a fat suit. Ugh. My fears cost me big time. I could do the steps, I minored in dance in college, and I had the voice, but my mind would not allow me to memorize. That’s a biological response too, remember the blood flow shift? Processing information, your conscious mind, takes a back seat in threatening circumstances. To be perfectly blunt, fear makes you stupid. I was a novice surrounded by professionals and I had zero confidence. All I could think about was everyone was watching me.

Just so you can share in my experience, I want you to see yourself sitting in the audience as the lights are dimming. The show is about to start and the excitement in the air is electric. Everyone quiets down as the announcer over the microphone says: “Good evening ladies and gentleman and welcome to our show. Please note that any recording of this performance, either through video or photograph is strictly prohibited…” A hush comes over the crowd in anticipation. Spotlight, Dora. Yes me, all alone, opening the show. We had rehearsed for this moment many times, and in every attempt to repeat my lines I always left something out. It was a 3 minute intro, you can see it here. Well, the poor director was forced to change the script and delete most of my lines. Everyone was totally frustrated with me and there was nothing I could do. Needless to say I didn’t get hired for the next show. Too many strikes.

What were my limiting beliefs? “I can’t remember the line. I’m so embarrassed. This is terrible. Get me out of here.” My subconscious mind intervened on my behalf, saying:”Yay! This is what you wanted.” The mind must respond to the directions you give it, and most of us have no idea how powerful their words can be. Yikes! Be careful my friends, I know it always feels good to be right, but when your subconscious is calling the shots it will always prove what you’re saying is the truth. Your beliefs create your reality.

How Do You Make Fear Fun?

We do it all the time! Why do you think people wait in line for hours to ride the scariest roller coaster? Or keep going back for more Halloween movies? I remember participating in multiple scare pranks, we thought it was hilarious! You Tube is filled with them, and they attract millions of viewers. Laughter is the best medicine, it erases all fear. Another example, we recently were threatened by a Category 5 hurricane. I’ve never lived in an evacuation zone before, and I was selfish enough to stay put during the onset of the storm. Dorian stalled. Our high alert status was sustained over a period of 5 days. What did we do? We gathered with our friends and had a party, after all it may have been our last day on earth. My normal routine of abstaining from alcohol went right out the window, I simply couldn’t take it any longer. As I was rapidly re-filling my wine glass I offered up my dramatic interpretations of “we’re all gonna die!” as we passed the very tense time together playing cards. It’s not a good sign when the ultimate optimist loses control, but all in good fun.

Here’s something you may not have realized, all of the sensations you feel in fear are exactly the same for excitement. So instead of saying “I’m really scared” try swapping it out for “I’m really excited.” It has an entirely different effect. You can read more about that in a great article by Helaina Hovitz here.

Before you go, be sure to check out two quick tip videos by yours truly. Since we’ve covered both fear and stress, I’m including both of them. Thanks!

More Tips on Fear

More Tips on Stress

22 Comments

  • Cathy

    This article is a good reminder for all of us who harbor some level of stress in our daily lives. I am certainly one of them, thanks to the nature of my profession in the medical line. Every patient we see, every phone call we pick up seems to be dealing with someone else’s endless problem and it’s very stressful indeed. I really hate it when I need to ‘bring the problem’ back home as it seems to rob my personal space and time. 

    Joking about stuff has always been my forefront in keeping the situation cool and we try to that as often as we can with each other at work to ease the stress level a bit. 

    • JJL

      Thank you Cathy, I agree it is so easy to absorb other people’s stress. I have empathic tendencies and have spent a lot of time and effort learning how to exist without taking on what people are putting out there. It’s funny how some people just naturally deflect. When you are in a service industry such as yours it’s hard to not care. Great topic for further discussion!

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