Fear is a reaction that happens in the brain. It starts with a stimulus that causes stress and ends with the release of chemicals that can cause fast breathing, a racing heart, muscle tension, shaking, as well as other physical symptoms. This is usually known as the fight-or- flight response. The stimulus can be anything from a spider, a dog to flying or thunderstorms.

Dark Graveyard

Dark Graveyard – photo credit Moyan Brenn (Flikr)

The brain is a very complex organ with over 100 billion nerve cells. Fear is an autonomic response that happens in the brain as a result of a stimulus. We don’t consciously trigger the fear response and we can’t usually control it.

Fear exists to keep us safe. It’s essentially designed to help us act in ways that generate the results we need and want. We should embrace fear, not let it control us.

Spider

Spider – Photo Credit Mike Flemming (Flikr)

Have you ever heard of Hippopotomoustrosesquippedaliophobia? Well it’s real. It’s the fear of long words! What about Gamophobia? –  the fear of commitment or sticking with someone to the end. Fears or Phobias are an extreme or irrational fear of, or aversion to something.

I carried out a survey online to assess what the most common fears were. Of the 70 participants who contributed, the fears that featured most were heights (acrophobia), death (thanatophobia), needles (trypanophobia), lonliness (monophobia) and a fear for the safety of ones family (I couldn’t find a phobia name for that!)

Girl getting injection

Girl getting injection – photo credit Conor Lawless (Flikr)

The results threw up some unusual fears such as Trump, Liberals, Pseudobulbar and Women!

In contrast to the survey results, I asked people on the streets of Dublin. The fear of spiders (arachnophobia) seemed to be the most common here. See video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UnURfRljyo

So whether its creepy crawlies, spiders, rats or even Donald Trump that you are scared of, AWARE is a great acronym to remember when combating your fear.
  1. A: Accept the anxiety. Don’t try to fight it.
  2. W: Watch the anxiety. Just watch it and when you notice it, scale your level of fear and start to breathe longer on the out-breath.
  3. A: Stands for ‘Act normally’. …
  4. R: Repeat the above steps in your mind if necessary.
  5. E: Expect the best.

Below please see the graph which gives a clearer picture of my overall findings which incorporated the biggest fears of those who took part in the survey and the video combined.