Effective Self-Help Methods to Deal with Phobias
In a previous post, we looked at what phobias are and how to recognize if you have one or not. In this follow-up article, we will explore some effective self-help techniques that can help you manage and eventually overcome most types of phobias.
Wherever your fear came from, you need to remember, it is possible to work on your phobias. It may not be easy, and it may take quite a while, but you can see some improvements and get on with your life. Below are some techniques to try out, so you can overcome your phobia once and for all.
Try to Desensitize Yourself
If you get really overwhelmed by the thought of tackling your phobia, then the desensitization technique may be right for you. All you do is gradually expose yourself to the dreaded thing or situation (i.e., crowded streets, bugs, heights), and then withdraw when your anxiety becomes excessive. The next time, push yourself a bit further. And so on and so forth until the fear (hopefully) goes away completely.
Go for The Flooding Technique
An offshoot of the desensitization technique is something called the flooding technique, which boils down to constantly exposing yourself to a scary situation until it feels less overwhelming. Think of it like a claustrophobe riding an elevator all day long, or a germaphobe grabbing door handles with their bare hands without slathering them with wet wipes and disinfectant first. Flooding may be difficult to do, but it’s worth a try and has led to excellent results in some people.
Get Help from a Friend or Family Member
If you’re about to go into a situation that scares you — such as a crowded mall — think about requesting the company of a trusted person. If you afraid of walking alone through the masses, have the person walk a certain distance ahead of you, and then wait for you to catch up. After walking to meet her or him at the location, the individual will walk further ahead before you meet her or him again. Gradually you’ll be able to work up to walking longer distances alone.
Attend A Support Group
Support groups help you realize you aren’t alone, or weird, or crazy, and knowing this can go a long way in getting past a fear. Plus, being around like-minded people who all want to get better increases your chance of recovery. So, go find a meeting or a chat group online, and start working on your issues together.
Try Some Medication
It’s wonderful if you can feel better on your own. But it’s also perfectly OK to help your recovery along with medication, if your doctor sees fit. According to many experts, there are three types of drugs that work well with phobias. The first are beta blockers, which block the stimulating effects of adrenaline in the body. Then there are antidepressants to help alter your mood. And finally, sedatives like Xanax, which can help lessen the feeling of anxiety. Ask your doctor which kind would be best for your particular needs.
Read Up on The Topic
Let’s say you’re afraid of flying. Reading all about how planes work, flight statistics, and safety measures will help you feel more in control of the situation. The same thing applies to pretty much any phobia. A little knowledge can go a long way in lessening your fears.
Climb The “Fear Ladder”
The fear ladder technique works pretty well if the other methods seem like too much. It may be that you started off with something that was too scary or overwhelming like the Flooding technique mentioned above. Instead, begin with a situation you can handle, and work up from there. For example, let’s say you’re afraid of dogs. You may look at a photo of dogs, then watch a video of dogs, then look at a dog through a window, then stand 10 feet away from a small dog, then 5 feet away, and so on until you’re able to pet dogs without being afraid.
Learn Relaxation Techniques
One of the worst parts about phobias is the physical reactions — shallow breathing, pounding heart, etc. — that can actually make the anxiety worse. So, relaxation techniques may come in handy to help soothe your panic. By breathing deeply from the abdomen, you can reverse these physical sensations.
Yes, phobias suck, especially since they can force you to lead a pretty limited life. Try to get yours under control ASAP and get back to enjoying your life. We hope that the advice above goes some way to helping you begin the process.