Do you sometimes feel so fearful it's hard to get through a day? Is it hard to put your finger on exactly what is making you feel so afraid? Would you say that you're more fearful than your friends?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it's time to develop some coping strategies and change things up for the better—and that doesn't necessarily mean that you need to enter cognitive therapy or go on medication.

1. Make a conscious effort to cope with your fears

It can be difficult to manage fear when it overtakes you, but if you work to keep yourself from being overwhelmed, and to consciously calm your mind, you will be able to move forward, says Francine Lederer, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and the founder of LA Talk Therapy in Los Angeles. Tell yourself that you have the strength and the tenaciousness to work through the fear. "Reassess your feelings and reason with yourself," she suggests. "Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen?" Then follow through by asking yourself what are the chances that this could happen. Chances are, the risk is miniscule.

2. Try progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, or meditation

"These will benefit your mind and your body," Lederer says. "Making mind-body connections is a powerful tool to help keep us balanced and attuned to ourselves." Try one, or all of them, to figure out which one of these works for you.

3. Practice mindfulness

"Make a conscious effort to observe what you're thinking when you're feeling afraid, and then practice detaching from the thoughts," advises Simon A. Rego, PsyD, ABPP, ACT, associate professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of Psychology Training at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

Next step, he says, is to let them go. It is important to not cling to your thoughts so tightly (for example, assuming that what you're thinking is always 100 percent accurate). It can be hard to let go of fearful thoughts, especially when you're anxious, he says, but with practice, it will become easier.

4. Consider cognitive restructuring

This technique is helpful for reducing fear, says Allen H. Weg, Ed. D, licensed psychologist founder and executive director of Stress & Anxiety Services of New Jersey. He likens it to developing a new script in your mind. If you fear going to parties, ask yourself what is the reason: Is it because you're afraid you'll be seen as socially inept or have no one to talk to? Then visualize yourself at the party acting how you would like to act—confident, popular, and with plenty of people paying attention to you.

5. Verbalize unfounded fears, no matter how real they seem

Talk to those you are close to. If you are afraid of something, "Write it down, look at it objectively, talk it through with a friend," Weg says. "Stay focused on the now, and you will be able to work through the fear."

Allen H. Weg, EdD, reviewed this article.


Goldsmith, Barton. "Top 10 tips to reduce anxiety." 14 May 2012. Psychology Today.

Durnell, Linda. "5 ways to reduce fear." 10 August 2012. Huffington Post.