The Power of Visualization
Self-defense is as much a mindset as it is a skillset. I train people to use visualization (with a positive outcome, of course) to help develop sensible reactions under stress.
Is there a scenario that causes you anxiety? It doesn't have to be an assault situation, either! (I use this for tax stress, too)
If so...Try this:
~~Identify the scenario that worries you. Get a clear understanding of what that is.
~~Next, come up with a solution that makes sense. If you are stumped and cannot actually see how it can be dealt with, contact an expert or friend that can help you develop a solution.
~~Then, with your chosen solution in mind, sit quietly and imagine this situation unfolding. Use imagery...the clearer the pictures in your mind, the more positive impact this exercise will have. Now imagine your chosen solution...and it works!!! Then absorb the positive energy associated with this stressful situation being handled effectively.
--For me, I picture walking into my accountant's office and handing him my documents. They are not complete (very realistic), but he is the expert and knows what to do. I picture leaving the office stress free, and easily being able to afford his services...and I get a small refund instead of having to pay!--
--If your fear is, say, the walk to your car at night. A possible solution is that you carry pepper spray in your hand during that walk. Practice with your spray before this exercise (yes...actually spray it and wash it in warm, soapy water) so you can easily picture yourself using it. Next...sit quietly and picture walking to your car. What do the buildings look like? The sky? Then...your fear unfolds. A person approaches...But you are prepared! The pepper spray works...he succumbs to the spray and you are able to get to your car and call 911. Repeat this exercise until you are comfortable with your chosen solution.
Know this: Your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between an actual event, and a vividly imagined event. They are processed in the same way. That is why vivid dreams can cause us stress or joy...even hours into our day.
The more you practice this, the easier and more effective it will become. And in the unlikely event that your fear actually unfolds...? Your reactions are far more likely to be in line with your plan!
Give it a try! I go over this with my students far more than any physical skill.