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Fear

What Is It?

Feeling scared is a natural reaction to something that seems dangerous or unsafe. We typically are scared of things which make us feel unsafe or unsure. Fear can be a good thing. It can operate as a warning sign to help us avoid danger.

Fear, like any emotion, can be intense or mild. It can last for different amounts of time. There are times when our reaction does not match the level of threat. Our reaction might be unnecessarily intense for the situation.

Phobias are intense fear of a specific thing, like public speaking or spiders. Phobias cause an intense/extreme reaction compared to the level of threat. Many people have phobias.

It is possible to overcome phobias and fears.

What Does It Feel Like?

Fear triggers the fight or flight response. This response is triggered when the brain views something as a threat. It causes a physical reaction and prepares the body to either fight, flight (run away), or freeze to cope with the threat. This response can be triggered even when something is not life threatening. A person’s response can vary from mild to intense.

Fear can feel like:

  • Your heart beating faster
  • Sweaty
  • You are ready to spring into action
  • Breathing more rapidly
  • You can’t move or you are frozen in place
  • Crying
  • Butterflies in your stomach
  • Upset stomach
  • Body tingles
  • Flushed or warm
  • Shaking
  • You can’t think clearly
  • Anger or sadness
  • Irritable

What Can You Do to Calm Down?

It is important to remind the child/youth it is okay to be scared, but it is not okay to be hurtful to others because of fear. Like any emotion, fear is a natural reaction. Along with comforting the child/youth, there are things you can help them do to calm down and feel better.

Things to do to calm down:

  • Take slow, deep breaths or try relaxation techniques
  • Scribble on a piece of paper
  • Yell into a pillow
  • Go outside
  • Get active
  • Listen to music
  • Dance
  • Play an instrument
  • Write it out
  • Take a break
  • Watch a funny movie
  • Help the child think of what is bothering them and healthy solutions to deal with it
  • Talk with a loved one
  • Play with a pet
  • Ask for help
  • Read a book
  • Go for a walk
  • Think of things that make you happy
  • Help the child/youth safely face their fears

Further Resources

If you would like to speak to someone about mental health issues, the Alberta Health Services Mental Health Help Line is available 24/7, offering information and referrals on any aspect of mental health.

Call toll-free: 1-877-303-2642

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