When you're facing the unknown, do you get scared, anxious, and nervous? Do you suddenly lose the ability to breathe? Breathing should be the easiest thing in the world to do, but when you're feeling sick to your stomach with your heart smashing against your ribcage to the beat of the thundering in your head, breathing… well it’s probably the last thing you’re thinking about.
If this sounds like you, you're not alone. It happens when we are about to move outside our comfort zone; when we’re no longer in that cozy place where we live most of the time. Suddenly, we’re exposed to stress, risk and the unknown.
Being scared out of your skin is a real feeling, but it is normal. I remember that feeling of pure fear, worry and anxiousness - not to mention an ability to not even take a breath - the first time my eldest daughter climbed really high up a tree and got lost in a department store when she wandered off as I was paying.
But that doesn’t mean we should avoid being scared. In fact, we need to embrace the fear and learn to take some risks to show our daughters that it’s okay to take risks and it’s okay to be scared by challenges.
Several scientific studies have proven that doing something that scares us helps us prepare for new or unexpected changes, harnesses creativity, and develop a positive mental approach. It also helps us push our boundaries and discover, as Chrissie Wellington, a hero of mine says, “Our limits are not where we think they are.”
So what can you do to embrace fear? Eleanor Roosevelt once said that you should do one thing every day that scares you. I suspect she didn’t mean Googling your latest ache or pain and self-diagnosing a terminal disease or watching the latest horror flick. So why not try one of these:
- Start a conversation with a stranger.
- Go without all your gadgets for a day, or a week if you’re being really brave.
- Ask for help.
- Try a new sporting activity or class.
- Sing in public.
Each time you do something that scares you, you’re extending your comfort zone that little bit further and realise that fear is all in the mind.
Next, learn how to breathe. Intentional breathing is a technique I use to help calm my nerves before I do stuff that scares me such as having a conversation with a stranger, doing a presentation, or running a race where I’ve set myself a challenging target. I start with two counts in and four counts out. Breathing out for longer than you breathe in is known to instigate your parasympathetic nervous system causing your breathing to slow, your heart rate to drop, and your blood pressure to lower, which means you feel calmer.
So whether you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone or watching your daughter decide that sliding down the slide head first on her back is a good idea, take a deep breath and remember to breathe!
Written by Community Ambassador Kassia Gardner.
Kassia Gardner loves running. As well as running road marathons she’s also an ultra and trail runner. As an Event Director for junior parkrun Kassia is passionate about getting kids moving and believes that sports can empower girls and teach them skills such as teamwork, determination, focus, goal setting and dealing with failure. Her own personal motto is, ‘I don’t need easy, I just need possible!’