At the basic level, the body has two responses. The sympathetic nervous system response and the parasympathetic nervous system response. The sympathetic nervous system is a response that the body uses when something is dangerous. It is the “red alert” system. The parasympathetic system is used when the body is going to relax. The body only knows danger verses no danger.
When there is danger the body turns on the sympathetic nervous system. The body only turns on the chemicals. The chemicals make the organs behave differently. This doesn’t actually assign the response a meaning. The mind decides what the sympathetic nervous system response means. The mind decides if the response is going to be labeled anger, anxiety, irritability, frustration ect.
Once the mind decides what the response is, you have five basic options.
Option 1) Focus really hard on the problem and think about it. This prolongs the sympathetic nervous system response. It keeps it turned on. Eventually this will cause the body serious harm.
Option 2) Do not think about the problem. Do not not think about the problem. Instead, focus on something else. This is what most forms of meditation does. The body wants to stop the sympathetic nervous system response as fast as it can. It cannot stop the response as long as you are focused on the problem. As soon as your focus is off the problem, it can turn off the response.
Option 3) Down play the problem in your mind. If your mind decides that the problem is no longer dangerous, the sympathetic nervous system will be turned off. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses a lot on this.
Option 4) Keep your body in close proximity to the problem. As the body stays in close proximity and you are not actually harmed, the body will realize that the problem isn’t harmful and it will turn off the sympathetic nervous system response. For example, if you are scared of worms and you hold one in your hand for an hour, your body will eventually realize that the worm is not going to harm you and it will turn off the “red alert” sympathetic nervous response. Behavior Therapy focuses a lot on this.
Option 5) Teach yourself to accept the worst possible outcome. Come to terms with it, as if it has already happened or as if your worst fear will come true. Once you have made your peace with it, your body will not respond to the fear in a sympathetic nervous system state. Exposure Response Prevention Therapy focuses a lot on this.