5 Ways To Overcome Phobias
There are a number of therapy and self-help techniques that can help you treat your phobia. If you are experiencing extreme discomfort and panic attacks due to your phobia, then it is best to seek professional therapy. However, if you realize that your phobia is irrational, then self-help strategies can be really helpful.
So here are the 5 most helpful tips to overcome phobias and irrational fears.
#1 Start climbing ‘The Fear Ladder’
The Fear Ladder strategy is a highly effective technique that allows you to face your fears in a controlled situation. Although you want to avoid what you are afraid of, the fear ladder helps you cope with your phobia by facing it and eventually realizing that it may not be as scary as you might have perceived. This will enable you to gain control over your feelings and responses. As a result, your phobia will become less daunting and scary.
By moving up the fear ladder one small step at a time, you will repeatedly and gradually expose yourself to your fears and eventually overcome it.
By experiencing your fears repeatedly, you will learn to reduce your anxiety and realize that it doesn’t pose as big a threat as you expected. Your phobia tends to become weaker every time you face your fear. You gain more control over yourself and become more confident.
When climbing the fear ladder, focus on the final goal as it will motivate you to move up. Make sure you climb up one step at a time and do not move ahead unless you are completely comfortable in the stage you are in. Once you are ready, you may move to the next step. You can go as slow as you need to be.
If you are afraid of spiders, for instance, then your fear ladder should comprise of the following steps:
- Step 1: Go online and look at a few pictures of different species of spiders.
- Step 2: Watch a documentary video that explains the nature and habits of spiders as natural beings.
- Step 3: When looking at the pictures and videos, try to appreciate the beauty in these creatures, instead of feeling afraid. Realize they cannot harm you through the screen.
- Step 4: Try to look at spiders from a safe distance in your house or in your neighborhood. It can be a tiny spider or a large spider, depending on your mindset. Observe their behavior.
- Step 5: Try to hold a toy spider in your hand realizing that it is simply a toy. The goal is to tolerate being around what scares you.
- Step 6: Go and watch different species of spiders at the zoo or a spider farm.
- Step 7: Take pictures of spiders that are near you. Try to focus on the composition of the photograph instead of the spider.
- Step 8: Find out people who have pet spiders and visit them. Observe how the spiders behave in their enclosure.
- Step 9: Watch people handle and feed their pet spiders. These people can tell how amazing spiders can be, something you never considered before.
- Step 10: Capture a small spider in your house with a glass container and observe it. Make sure to set it free later and not harm it.
- Step 11: Next capture a large spider once you are comfortable and look at it from up close. Set it free once you are ready.
- Step 12: Finally, hold a pet spider, if and when you are ready. The owner can help you with holding the spider and show you how harmless it is.
Practice as often as needed and maintain a pace that you feel comfortable with. Eventually, your fear will fade and will be replaced by confidence.
#2 Read and learn about your phobia
Read and gain some basic knowledge about the psychological aspects of your phobia. When you understand what it truly means to experience fear and how our mind reacts to it from a neutral point of view, you will realize how irrational your fear is. You can also read about your specific phobia (our spider, for instance) and learn about their biology. Find out which species are venomous and which ones are harmless. What type of spiders are found in households and which ones are available in the wild.
The more knowledge you gain the better you will be able to overcome phobias and irrational fears.
#3 Practice relaxation techniques
Physical reactions like difficulty in breathing, pulsating heart, shivering and numbness can be the worst part of experiencing phobias. One of the best ways to overcome phobias and irrational fears is to practice deep breathing exercises that will help to reduce your anxiety and panic. When you breathe deeply from your abdomen, you will be able to calm your mind and slow down your thought process. This will help you control your emotions and, in turn, your responses to panic-inducing situations. Practicing mindfulness meditation every day for at least 10 minutes can also be highly helpful in coping with phobias.