MENTAL HEALTH THERMOMETER - Is fear affecting us?

28 Jun 2020


We have all experienced it! Sometimes it comes with a lot of intensity, but other times it is just a whisper. For some it is a relentless intruder, which has led to other complications. Most of us outwardly put on a brave face while inwardly we are living through ‘realities’ only visible to our minds and not the outside world. But is fear such a bad thing? On its own, is fear a negative emotion or is it a voice that speaks to us- more of a warning bell?

Life experiences may make us perceive ‘fear’ as a negative emotion. But does fear serve a purpose? How do we respond to it? As we think of COVID-19 and the attendant risks that come with it, what do we do with emotions like fear that raise their ugly head from time to time?

Fear is a sense of dread and a threat to our physical, emotional, or psychological wellbeing. It is the ‘voice’ that alerts you that your security and safety is threatened. Fear points out that there is danger and that some action needs to be taken. However, if not addressed, it can make one feel trapped and interfere with one’s quality of life.

Fear is expressed in different ways. For example, in children fear may be expressed through crying, throwing tantrums, clinging, poor sleeping or eating habits, or even bedwetting. Older children may express fear by bullying, being aggressive, becoming withdrawn, or embracing other Negative Health Behaviors (NHBs). Adults may become irritable or edgy; but they could also become withdrawn or distracted or engage in self-defeating tendencies to cope with fear.

Both in children and adults, fear could be triggered by environmental factors, unresolved issues, certain specific objects, or situations, imagined events, future events, post-traumatic events, amongst others. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in facing the object of our fear, has the capacity to interfere with not only our physical and mental wellbeing, but also day to day functions like personal routine, productivity at work or school, as well as social activities or relationships.

Physical and emotional symptoms of fear:

  • Rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Poor eating habits
  • Sweating, trembling, chills
  • Upset stomach/headaches
  • Unhealthy lifestyle to numb the fear

How Do I deal with fear?

  • Acknowledge and validate fear
  • Search the heart and find out the trigger of fear
  • Look for ways to address or mitigate against the issue causing fear
  • Incorporate stress reduction techniques - support system, spiritual resources, meditation, and breathing and physical exercise, amongst others.


Reflection: Are you experiencing persistent or destabilizing feelings of fear? Are you finding yourself losing sleep or engaging in negative fear-erasing attempts? Is fear driving your actions instead of helping you face life with greater resolve?

Talk to us… let’s have a conversation on how to stop ‘fear’ from becoming destructive!

Call 0793 484 333 / 0728 961 939

Keep Safe and Healthy!

JMS 24/7 emergency call line: Tel: +254 724 255 378 OR


Staff counseling service: Tel: +254 728 961 939 or + 254 793 484 333

Useful Links: WHO- Coping with stress during COVID-19 ; WHO-COVID-19 ; JMS website ; F.A.Q's

Posted on: 01 Jun 2020