Tag: anxiety

Fear of fear

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself- Franklin D. Roosevelt 

The Root of Fear and what it is? 

Let us first look at what is fear? If we can understand the problem with desire then we will understand and be free from fear. ‘I want to be something’ – that is the root of fear itself. When I want to be something, my desire to be something and my not being that something creates fear, not only in a narrow sense but in the widest sense possible. So as long as there is the desire to be something there must be fear.   

Observing this root of fear 

Can the mind possibly observe fear? Your fear: fear of death, fear of life, fear of loneliness, fear of darkness, fear of being nobody, fear of been hurt, fear of been deceived, fear of not becoming a great success, fear of not being a leader,  fear of so many different things. First of all, is one aware of it? Or one tends to lead such a superficial life, only talking about something else and so one is never aware of oneself, of one’s own fears.   

Then if one does become aware of those fears, at what level do you become aware? Is it an intellectual awareness of them or are you actually aware of your fears at a degree of deeper level that is in the hidden recesses of the mind? And if they are so hidden, how are they to be exposed? Must you go to an analyst? But the analyst is you; he needs to be analysed too! 

So how do you uncover the whole structure and deal with the intricacies of fear? This is a tremendous problem, not just to be listened to for two or three minutes and then forgotten but to find out for oneself whether it is possible to expose all fears, or whether there is only one central fear that has many branches.  

When one sees the central fear the branches begin to wither away. If the mind can understand the root of fear then the branches, the various aspects of fear has no meaning, they wither away. So what is the root of fear? Can you look at your fear? Please look at it now, invite it. Naturally you are not afraid now, sitting here, but you know what your fears are: loneliness, not being loved, not being beautiful, frightened of losing your job, etc. 

By looking at one fear, at your particular fear, you can then see the root of that fear is the root of all fear. You will observe and see for yourself that through one fear you discover the very root of all fear. 

There is no illusion greater than fear- Lao Tzu 

So can you observe your fear like a tough nutThrough one fear trace the very root of all fear? Let us understand that ‘The self is the root of all fear. To inhibit or suppress fear is not to transcend or surpass it; its cause must be self-discovered then understood and finally dissolved. To understand consciousness, one has to be really free, totally, of fear. It is only with direct contact with fear that you are free. 

Fear has two meanings: ‘Forget everything and run Or Face everything and rise’ 

We have to understand fear and be completely free of it, right through your being that is the goalParadoxically, you can only do it when there is no escape of any kind. When you understand this, you are directly in contact with fear. In that contact there is no time interval, there is no saying, ‘I will get over it,’ or ‘I will develop courage,’ when you are frightened. We are dealing with facts here, and we cannot deal with what is if there is any form of escape, conscious or even unconscious. 

When you come directly into contact with fear, there is a response of the nerves. When the mind is no longer escaping through words or through activity of any kind, there is no division between the observer and the thing observed as fear. It is the mind that is escaping that separates itself from fear. But when there is a direct contact with fear there is no observer, there is no entity that says, ‘I am afraid.’ So, the moment you are directly in contact with life, with anything, there is no division and it is this division that breeds competition, ambition and fear. 

If you seek a way or a method or a system to be rid of fear, you will everlastingly be caught in fear. But if you understand fear, which can only take place when you come directly in contact with it then you do something. Only then will you find that all fear ceases – we mean all fear, not fear of this kind or of that kind in particular. Because out of the freedom and the understanding and the learning about fear comes intelligence, and intelligence is the essence of freedom. And there is no intelligence if there is any form of conflict, and conflict must exist as long as there is fear. 

Conditioning is the very root of fear, and where there is fear there is no virtue. To go into this profoundly requires a great deal of intelligence, and we mean by intelligence the understanding of all influence and being free of it. 

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown- H.P. Lovecraft 

The Physical and Emotional Effects of Fear 

Without fear, an individual’s chances of day-to-day survival would likely diminish. In this way, fear can be healthy; it helps people keep away from dangerous or harmful situations by triggering a “fight or flight” response. Fear often affects people physically and emotionally. 

Fear may cause someone to experience an enhanced perception of space and time, or their senses of sight, hearing, and smell may be heightened. In life-threatening situations, fear can also reduce the ability to notice fine detail while increasing the capacity to distinguish large or blurry objects. These adjustments in perception can increase a person’s chance of survival in a dangerous or savage situation. 

You may experience a variety of physical responses when experiencing fear, such as: 

  • Temporary paralysis or an erratic heartbeat 
  • Stomach pain, head pain, or nausea 
  • Dizziness or fainting 
  • Sweating 
  • Muscle tension, twitching, or trembling 
  • Crying 
  • Stuttering 
  • Erratic sleep patterns 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Rapid or shallow breathing 

Psychological effects of fear can include intrusive or distracting thoughts, loss of focus, and confusion. People may also experience a variety of emotional effects, including terror, anxiety, anger, despair, numbness, or helplessness. 

Here are 12 ways to try and overcome fear:  

  • Understand fear and then embrace it   Embrace fear as instruction and let it inform your actions, but not control them. 
  •  Don’t just do something, sometimes just stand there!  When fear strikes consider whether the correct action might be to analyze the options and make a wise, well thought out choice rather than jumping to what seems right in the heat of the moment. 
  •  Name the fear and focus Sometimes merely stating what your fear is gives you the strength to deal with it. Say your fear out loud, write it down, or focus your mind on it. When you try to ignore your fear, it grows. When you face it, it shrinks. 
  •  Think and consider long term   If you’re an entrepreneur, you may be afraid you won’t make the next payroll. But what’s your three month outlook, or the outlook for three years from now? Thinking about the long term won’t fix your short term problem, but it can help you think about it more objectively and come up with the right solution. 
  • Educate yourself to the core We are afraid of nothing so much as the unknown. If your fear is based on a lack of information, then get the information or knowledge you need to examine the situation based on facts rather than mere speculation. 
  •  Prepare, practice, role play and repeat If your fear is related to your performance in a certain activity then prepare, practice, and role play and repeat the same till you hit perfection 
  •  Utilize peer pressurefor your good Peer pressure, like fear, can be positive or negative depending on how it’s displayed. Surround yourself with people who will push you to overcome the fears that are holding you back from what you want. 
  • Visualize success for greatness Athletes may imagine the successful completion of a physical task thousands of times before achieving it. This mental mapping ensures that when the body moves, it’s more likely to follow its pre-decided path. 
  • Gain a sense of proportionfirst How big of a deal, really, is the thing you are afraid of? We sometimes get so caught up in the success or failure of a particular quest that we lose sense of where it fits in or not with everything else we value.  
  • Get help if need be Whatever you’re afraid of, is it something you have to do alone? Can you find a mentor or support group to help you through it?  
  • Have a positive attitude for your own good Would you keep working long after others would have given up? People who have positive attitudes are successful because they keep trying after others give up. 
  •  Be willing to turn on pivot If you’re afraid to do something again because it didn’t work out the last time, figure out why it didn’t work, and try something different before you give up trying altogether. 


Fears are nothing more than a state of mind- Napoleon Hill 


Author: Trishna Patnaik

Trishna Patnaik






About the writer: 


Trishna Patnaik, a Bsc (in Life Sciences) and MBA (in Marketing) by qualification but an artist by choice. A self-taught artist based in Mumbai, Trishna has been practising art for over 14 years now. After she had a professional stint in various reputed corporates, she realised that she wanted to do something more meaningful. She found her true calling in her passion, that is painting. Trishna is now a full-time professional painter pursuing her passion to create and explore to the fullest. She says, “It’s a road less travelled but a journey that I look forward to everyday.” Trishna also conducts painting workshops across Mumbai and other metropolitan cities of India. Trishna is an art therapist and healer too. She works with clients on a one on one basis in Mumbai.























Featured image:

Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

stress at work

Dealing with stress at work

Having spent some time in the corporate environment recently, it has become clear to me just how difficult it can be to maintain mental and emotional well being at work. There is so much pressure to get things done that self care gets put to the back of the to-do list. There just doesn’t seem to be time for any focus on oneself. When there are deadlines to meet and bosses expecting results, it becomes almost impossible to take time out for our own benefit.

The conundrim here is that if we don’t seriously prioritise some time for ourselves, we will inevitably end up worn out and underperforming. So, it pays to invest in some ‘me-time’ in order to cope better with workplace stress and pressure.

How to deal with stress at work

I have put together a few easy to use strategies that can be done at work and only need a few minutes now and then out of your busy schedule to help you ‘reset’ and get back to your baseline. You can check in with yourself regularly each day and ask yourself where you are on the anxiety/stress scale.

0 = no stress; 10 = major stress

If you rate yourself as a 6 or above, it’s time to intervene with a quick strategy.

Breathing strategy – square method

Picture a square. As you draw the top part of the square, breathe in and count to 5. Then draw the side down and hold your breath for 5, draw the bottom part of the square, breathe out for 5 and then the final line to complete the square and hold again for 5. This process of slow breathing confuses the old limbic system of the brain. When we feel anxious the limbic system (hypothalamus and amygdala) identifies this as danger and releases adrenalin, preparing us for flight, flight or freeze behaviour. When we breathe slowly, this sends opposing information to the limbic system, suggesting we are actually calm and this physiological mismatch can help us to feel calm instantly.

Mindfulness 5-4-3-2-1

Mindfulness helps us to step back from our busy, racing minds. Not only does it mean that we are more present in the moment (rather than drowning in memories of the past or worrying unnecessarily about the future) but mindfulness is also about the process of passive observation. When we are mindful, we are slightly detached from what is going on and instead, we notice the type of thoughts that are coming into our minds. Instead of purely reacting to our thougths that are stressing us out (eg. I will never manage this deadline), we can say to ourselves, “Oh I can see I am stressing again and worrying about how I might fail”. This level os detachment can help us to feel less overloaded by the onslaught of thoughts that try to mess with us.

So, try this: When your mind is getitng the better of you and you are stessing big time, sit quietly for a few minutes and look around you. Notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell (if possible) and 1 thing you can taste (if possible). This simple exercise can pull you out of your mental torture session and give you some relief and perspective.


Sometimes, we just need a little distraction. There are brilliant phone apps that help us focus on something else and help us focus elsewhere. I enjoy playing word games and find this clears my mind effectively. Distraction only works though once you have discovered and understood the reason for your stess and anxiety. If you have a certain bad habit, for example, of catastrophising or assuming you know what others are thinking, you would still need to have a look at that habit. Once you realise you are doing this, you can then mindfully notice that you are once again catastrophising, and then distract yourself. Distraction without understanding where the stress is coming from will only exacerbate the problem.

We were never meant to be perfect, allow yourself lee way to make mistakes. We live in an increasingly competitve world and the stakes are high when it comes to maintaining our mental and emotional well being. It all starts with us. These brief strategies are only a small part of the picture. We also need to look at the bigger picture of eating well, exercising, taking time out for fun and spending time with people we care about. Your company will always be there but there is only one of you. make sure you put yourself first and you will have more resources available to give to others and to your work.


Mandy X




Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

mental health first aid

Mental health first aid

Mental health first aid is all about helping people understand the basics of mental health – how to spot early warning signs, how to respond and how to support someone with mental health issues. Mental health first aid offers information on how to prevent a mental health issue becoming worse.

When someone has a mental health issue, it can affect every area of their life. Their work, their self esteem and confidence as well as their relationships. If your mental health is at risk, every other part of life can be affected.


Everyone is different but there are warning signs that tend to be more common:


Someone who is beginning to succumb to depression may start to become quieter, less jovial and less sociable. They may take more time off work, be less productive at work, less focused and more distracted.


Behaviour changes drastically as depression takes hold. A person can become lethargic and less ethusiastic. They will seem to do less, smile less and participate less in life. Enthusiasm dips when someone is anxious or depressed.


For some people who are depressed, even taking a shower or brushing their teeth can seem a huge effort (this is usually when depression is at its worst). Life can feel like such an effort.

Depression is not a case of feeling sad, there is often no particular reason for feeling so low. This can make a depressed person feel guilt as they feel they don’t have a right to feel the way they do.


There can be genetic as well as personality factors (nature versus nurture) involved in the onset of depression. It isn’t the same as sadness which is usually a direct cause of an unfortunate event (such as losing a job or divorce). Prolonged stress can lead to depression, anxiety and/or panic attacks.


Many people try to self soothe incorrectly. They don’t want to talk about the fact that they aren’t coping for fear of being judged as weak. As a result they might seek out unhelpful ways to feel happier – alcohol, drugs, gambling. Addictive behaviours can help initially but the effects are short lived. They get the short lived dopamine hit and keep going back for more, inadvertently making the situation worse. Escape behaviours are the order of the day but the underlying problem will persist.


The worst thing you could ever do for someone who is anxious or depressed is tell them to “snap out of it”, “pull themselves together” or to “think positively”. It’s just not possible when someone feels depressed. It’s an involuntary state of mind caused by a variety of triggers.

Be kind and supportive as well as non-judgemental. Many people fear admitting that they aren’t coping and reacting negatively would prevent someone from reaching out. Listen to them, sometimes just being able to talk and have someone listen can help ease their emotional burden.

Someone with mental health issues needs to see their GP and find out about talking to a counsellor. If they haven’t been able to solve their depression on their own, it is highly likely that they will need a little help to find their way. There are many options available and being depressed doesn’t mean the end of the road although it may feel like that when in the throes of depression.


Depression tends to lead to inactivity, lack of enthusiasm and low energy. It is a mood disorder that zaps the energy and life out of someone. To complicate matters, those with bipolar disorder alternate between low energy and high energy episodes.

Anxiety involves more nervous energy – it is underpinned by fear and a sense of threat. There are many types of anxiety – generalised anxiety disorder,social anxiety, health anxiety, post-traumatic stress, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks to name a few. Anxiety can manifest in many ways. It can also result in withdrawal and isolation (as in depression). Anxiety can interfere with daily functioning and lead to inaction, procrastination, indecision, seeking reassurance, over-checking and many other behaviours that are often referred to as “safety behaviours”. They ease the anxiety temporarily but the anxiety soon returns.

Many people with anxiety tend to avoid what they fear which leads to the fear remaining untested. Cognitive behavioural therapy is great for increasing exposire and gradually reducing anxiety.


Personality disorders are more common in people who were abused or neglected as children. Their neural pathways develop in a distorted pattern leading to a life time of dysfunctional thinking. Those with personality disorder can be hard to spot though and often maintain high functioning behaviour. Types of personality disorders – emotionally unstable personality disorder, antisocial disorder, narcisisstic personality disorder., to name a few.

Suicide is always a risk for someone who feels at the end of their tether. The more specific someone is in how they plan to commit suicide the more notice you should take. Never ignore threats. Someone feeling suicidal needs immediate intervention, either call: 111 or The Samaritans:116 123

Mental health issues are experienced by one in four of us and life is set up in such a way that we are constantly challenged. Unfairness, injustice, daily pressure, bereavement, relationship problems, debt – the list goes on. We all have our cross to bear. be kind, be tolerant and you may just save a life.

Mandy X

If you or someone you know needs help: mental health resources


Reasons employees don’t always use Employee Assistance Programmes

There are four reasons why employees don’t use EAP’s  and I’ll list them in the most-frequent order:

  • they don’t think it’s confidential
  • they feel there is a stigma for reaching out for help (especially for some men, who see this as a weakness)
  • they think they have to ask permission from their boss or HR
  • they don’t know it exists.

One of the main reasons that employees don’t use Employee Assistance Programmes is because they worry it might affect their position at work. They worry that getting in touch with a counsellor at an EAP will mean they become exposed.

At Headscience – every employee using the service is kept completely confidential. An employee contacts a phone number associated with Headscience and their name is never used on documentation, only a case number is used. Some statistics do get back to the employer but even this data is confidential as employee’s names are never used.

Second, it makes sense to reassure employees that every one of us has similar on and off-the-job struggles.  It’s no sin for people to reach out for help when the “allostatic load” (repeated stressors) gets piled too high and deep.

Third, just as the use of EAP is confidential, there is no need for employees to tell anyone, ask permission, go through HR channels, or do anything other than call the EAP phone number and make an appointment.

The last one puzzles me the most – often employees aren’t even aware that an EAP service exists. Headscience hopes to curcumvent this by doing regular workshops to make employees aware of our services.

Employee Assistance Programmes can make a huge difference to a company’s productivity and profit if they have happy staff.