We all get afraid.

Fear is just part of the human experience. And fear can feel awful! During these days of COVID-19, fear has gripped so many in our world. So, let’s take a break here today and mindfully slow down this emotion of fear, look at it, and breathe.

To begin with, we hate to feel fear. For all of us, trying to get away from these fear feelings can lead us down some destructive paths: we can drink too much, smoke, work, act out by doing destructive things, or stuff the feelings until we feel like we’re going to implode or explode!

When we’re living with cancer, it is a pretty normal and common experience to have feelings of fear. Let’s face it, we’re dealing with some pretty scary stuff! Just like in other times in our lives, though, we must figure out how to manage these feelings so that we don’t get paralyzed into maladaptive behavior patterns or just stay stuck.

One cancer survivor says, “I try to stay positive and be thankful for each day. My favorite quote is: “Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’ And the warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm!’ 

There are many ways to deal mindfully with our own fears. Here are two options you might try:

Focus on positivity or use a mantra such as the person above does, is one way.
Get quiet and comfortable. Be still and pay attention to your breathing. Breathe in slowly with a count of 5, now exhale with a count of five. Keep repeating this for about a minute. As you breathe in repeat a mantra such as “breathing in”. As you breathe out repeat a mantra such as “breathing out”. Or try, “breathing in what I need”; “breathing out what I don’t”. Do this for 1-2 minutes … or longer if this feels more natural. Experiment with a mantra that feels right for you. Some use words of their faith such as “Thank you, God”; “Thank you, God”. You will know what works best as you practice this meditation of breathing.

Another way is to simply be with your fear for a short time.
Allow yourself to sit with your fear for 2-3 minutes at a time. Breathe with it and say, “It’s okay. It feels lousy but emotions are like the ocean – the waves ebb and flow.” Just keep breathing in and out, allowing the fear to be with you. Image those waves flowing in and flowing out. Fear comes in. Fear goes out.

Then plan on doing something nurturing immediately after your breathing meditation period is completed: Call a good friend waiting to hear from you; immerse yourself in an activity you know is enjoyable and engrossing; while maintaining your social distance go outside and breathe in the fresh air, take a brief walk, or simply sit in the sunshine while being aware of nature’s sounds and beauty around you.

Fear isa part of us …. but not all of us. So, allow it to be, but not take up residence.
Now take on your day!

Lucretia Hurley-Browning, MDiv, MS, is a guest writer whose recent background includes Chaplain of Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital and the Director of Juniper Tree Counseling Center. She is a therapist and ordained United Methodist Minister. Currently she is a writer by day, a reader by night, and is passionate about living life meaningfully with a good dose of fun.