Some tips for Helping Combat phobias.
Phobia treatment tip 1: Face your fears, one step at a time
It’s only natural to want to avoid the thing or situation you fear. But when it comes to conquering phobias, facing your fears is the key. While avoidance may make you feel better in the short-term, it prevents you from learning that your phobia may not be as frightening or overwhelming as you think. You never get the chance to learn how to cope with your fears and experience control over the situation. As a result, the phobia becomes increasingly scarier and more daunting in your mind.
Exposure: Gradually and repeatedly facing your fears
The most effective way to overcome a phobia is by gradually and repeatedly exposing yourself to what you fear in a safe and controlled way. During this exposure process, you’ll learn to ride out the anxiety and fear until it inevitably passes.
Through repeated experiences facing your fear, you’ll begin to realize that the worst isn’t going to happen; you’re not going to die or “lose it”. With each exposure, you’ll feel more confident and in control. The phobia begins to lose its power.
Successfully facing your fears takes planning, practice, and patience. The following tips will help you get the most out of the exposure process.
Climbing up the “fear ladder”
If you’ve tried exposure in the past and it didn’t work, you may have started with something too scary or overwhelming. It’s important to begin with a situation that you can handle, and work your way up from there, building your confidence and coping skills as you move up the “fear ladder.”
Facing a fear of dogs: A sample fear ladder
Step 1: Look at pictures of dogs.
Step 2: Watch a video with dogs in it.
Step 3: Look at a dog through a window.
Step 4: Stand across the street from a dog on a leash.
Step 5: Stand 10 feet away from a dog on a leash.
Step 6: Stand 5 feet away from a dog on a leash.
Step 7: Stand beside a dog on a leash.
Step 8: Pet a small dog that someone is holding.
Step 9: Pet a larger dog on a leash.
Step 10: Pet a larger dog off leash.
Make a list: Make a list of the frightening situations related to your phobia. If you’re afraid of flying, your list (in addition to the obvious, such as taking a flight or getting through takeoff) might include booking your ticket, packing your suitcase, driving to the airport, watching planes take off and land, going through security, boarding the plane, and listening to the flight attendant present the safety instructions.
Build your fear ladder: Arrange the items on your list from the least scary to the most scary. The first step should make you slightly anxious, but not so frightening that you’re too intimidated to try it. When creating the ladder, it can be helpful to think about your end goal (for example, to be able to be near dogs without panicking) and then break down the steps needed to reach that goal.
Work your way up the ladder: Start with the first step (in this example, looking at pictures of dogs) and don’t move on until you start to feel more comfortable doing it. If at all possible, stay in the situation long enough for your anxiety to decrease. The longer you expose yourself to the thing you’re afraid of, the more you’ll get used to it and the less anxious you’ll feel when you face it the next time. If the situation itself is short (for example, crossing a bridge), do it over and over again until your anxiety starts to lessen. Once you’ve done a step on several separate occasions without feeling too much anxiety, you can move on to the next step. If a step is too hard, break it down into smaller steps or go slower.
Practice: It’s important to practice regularly. The more often you practice, the quicker your progress will be. However, don’t rush. Go at a pace that you can manage without feeling overwhelmed. And remember: you will feel uncomfortable and anxious as you face your fears, but the feelings are only temporary. If you stick with it, the anxiety will fade. Your fears won’t hurt you.
If you start to feel overwhelmed…
While it’s natural to feel scared or anxious as you face your phobia, you should never feel overwhelmed by these feelings. If you start to feel overwhelmed, immediately back off. You may need to spend more time learning to control feelings of anxiety (see the relaxation techniques below), or you may feel more comfortable working with a therapist.
Phobia treatment tip 2: Learn relaxation techniques
As you’ll recall, when you’re afraid or anxious, you experience a variety of uncomfortable physical symptoms, such as a racing heart and a suffocating feeling. These physical sensations can be frightening themselves—and a large part of what makes your phobia so distressing. However, by learning and practicing relaxation techniques, you can become more confident in your ability to tolerate these uncomfortable sensations and calm yourself down quickly.
Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and muscle relaxation are powerful antidotes to anxiety, panic, and fear. With regular practice, they can improve your ability to control the physical symptoms of anxiety, which will make facing your phobia less intimidating. Relaxation techniques will also help you cope more effectively with other sources of stress and anxiety in your life.
A simple deep breathing relaxation exercise
When you’re anxious, you tend to take quick, shallow breaths (also known as hyperventilating), which actually adds to the physical feelings of anxiety. By breathing deeply from the abdomen, you can reverse these physical sensations. You can’t be upset when you’re breathing slowly, deeply, and quietly. Within a few short minutes of deep breathing, you’ll feel less tense, short of breath, and anxious.
Try practicing this deep breathing technique for five minutes twice day. You don’t need to feel anxious to practice. In fact, it’s best to practice when you’re feeling calm until you’re familiar and comfortable with the exercise. Once you’re comfortable with this deep breathing technique, you can start to use it when you’re facing your phobia or in other stressful situations.
Phobia treatment tip 3: Challenge negative thoughts
Learning to challenge unhelpful thoughts is an important step in overcoming your phobia. When you have a phobia, you tend to overestimate how bad it will be if you’re exposed to the situation you fear. At the same time, you underestimate your ability to cope.
The anxious thoughts that trigger and fuel phobias are usually negative and unrealistic. It can help to put these thoughts to the test. Begin by writing down any negative thoughts you have when confronted with your phobia. Many times, these thoughts fall into the following categories:
Fortune telling: For example, “This bridge is going to collapse;” “I’ll make a fool of myself for sure;” “I will definitely lose it when the elevator doors close.”
Overgeneralization: “I fainted once while getting a shot. I’ll never be able to get a shot again without passing out;” “That pit bull lunged at me. All dogs are dangerous.”
Catastrophizing: “The captain said we’re going through turbulence. The plane is going to crash!” “The person next to me coughed. Maybe it’s the swine flu. I’m going to get very sick!”
Once you’ve identified your negative thoughts, evaluate them. Use the following example to get started.
Negative thought: “The elevator will break down and I’ll get trapped and suffocate.”
Is there any evidence that contradicts this thought?
“I see many people using the elevator and it has never broken down.”
“I cannot remember ever hearing of anyone dying from suffocation in a elevator.”
“I have never actually been in a elevator that has broken down.”
“There are air vents in a elevator which will stop the air running out.”
Could you do anything to resolve this situation if it does occur?
“I guess I could press the alarm button or use the telephone to call for assistance.”
Are you making a thinking error?
“Yes. I’m fortune telling, as I have no evidence to suggest that the elevator will break down.”
What would you say to a friend who has this fear?
“I would probably say that the chances of it happening are very slim as you don’t see or hear about it very often.”
Source: Mood Juice
It’s also helpful to come up with some positive coping statements that you can tell yourself when facing your phobia. For example:
“I’ve felt this way before and nothing terrible happened. It may be unpleasant, but it won’t harm me.”
“If the worst happens and I have a panic attack while I’m driving, I’ll simply pull over and wait for it to pass.”
“I’ve flown many times and the plane has never crashed. In fact, I don’t know anyone who’s ever been in a plane crash. Statistically, flying is very safe.”
1. The Right Vitamens Make sure that you are not deficient in minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Most people on regular diets do not get the recommended amount of magnesium, which results in a variety of symptoms, including anxiety. If this is the case for you, whatever you try is simply not going to cure your anxiety except from increasing your magnesium/potassium intake.
2. Ditch the caffeine! Caffeine, chocolate and sugar are proven to increase your level of anxiety.Ditch the caffeine! Caffeine, chocolate and sugar are proven to increase your level of anxiety. It can also make you fidgety and decrease your ability to get to sleep. Sleeping is proven to help decrease stress and anxiety as well as nervousness.
3. Meditate. It’s hard at first to be focused on only one thing- your breath-but it is very calming and healthy! Count your breath inhaling one thousand one, one thousand two… then exhaling one thousand one, one thousand two one thousand three, one thousand four, then repeat until your body starts to tingle. Your body will feel like this because it isn’t used to so much blood passing through the veins at one time, but don’t worry, this is a good thing. Many cultures see meditation as a key for their health.
4. Build up your self esteem. Many people who are stressed and anxious have low self esteem! If this is you, get a pen and paper and write down everything that you like about yourself. Maybe you’re smart, or athletic, or pretty. The good news is, many people with anxiety and stress are very intelligent, analytical and creative. The bad news is they use those good qualities and turn them into “what if (insert something bad here)” or they make things a bigger deal than they really were, or they demand nothing less than perfection from themselves. Obviously, no one is perfect, so they let themselves down. Start thinking positively about yourself, and expect less from what you do! That may not be what you want to hear, but you don’t have to be a perfectionist!
5. Choose a sounding board. If you need to vent ask your spouse, friend, or therapist for advice and tell them how you feel. Sometimes just putting your feelings into words can take a lot of stress away! If you don’t feel like you can talk to someone about this, write it down on paper, whatever comes to your head, then come back an hour later and read it, you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn about yourself this way.
6. Exercise. By exercising you increase your heart rate and in turn pumps blood faster around the body. This requires more oxygen which in turn work the lungs. Your entire cardio vascular system improves. The side effect of this is a slowly reducing blood pressure which is essential for dealing with stress and anxiety. If the idea of relaxing - rather than strenous - exercise appeals to you better consider trying yoga, Tai Chi, or Tae Bo! These increase both your physical and mental well being, and they are a lot of fun. Breathing exercises are also worth considering as they can greatly help reduce anxiety symptoms.
7. Treat yourself. When is the last time you did something for yourself? Go to the mall, or play tennis, go to the beach, or the spa, play poker or go to a club; whatever makes you happy, you deserve to be happy too! Stop worrying about everything else and start thinking about you, because you are the only one who can manage your stress and anxiety.
8. Find a distraction. If you find yourself unable to sleep sometimes the best option is to accept that you will be tired the next day. You may find yourself unable to stop thinking about your anxiety and what is making you anxious (if it is apparent). Exercise is a great distraction and should probably be your first option, but you may be unable to exercise or maybe you already did and are tired out from it. What now? Anything non-destructive can be helpful. Try reading, writing, gaming, singing, telling yourself a story, reciting the phone numbers you know, or anything that can distract your mind. Sitting around thinking about how uncomfortable / anxious you are is the worst thing you can do. Eating is not a recommended distraction.
There is no such thing as ‘too late to make friends’. In fact, your early 20’s is one of the best times to make them- everyone is beginning to mature :) I suggest finding people you have something in common with- perhaps an art class or somewhere that you are sure to find that you have something in common with a person :) Even online, places like here on Tumblr, I’ve met so many great people.
The key is to find someone you share common ground with :) the rest will fall into place <3 Anyone would be so lucky to have you as a friend <3
Advice on how to overcome social anxiety
Celina Manning on Anxiety and Dissociation- Some helpful tips!
Dave from the Positive Mind Project speaks on different types of Anxiety
Kati Morton on Dealing with Anxiety
xSullenGirlx- on natural anxiety remedies and tips
message me if you need to talk to someone, anyone!
I’m an advice blog that deals with a range of issues, mental health or otherwise… You name it, I’ve probably gone through it- or I know someone who has. I’m no professional, but I do care. I can help <3 or at the very least, support you.
You’re not alone. No one is.
There is hope, it can be anonymous… and if you don’t want me to answer it publicly then just say so and I won’t…
Please, reach out, stay strong, get help… I promise that things can get better <3
message me if you need to talk to someone, anyone! <3 I’m always here, and I care <3
I’m an advice blog that deals with a range of issues… You name it, I’ve probably gone through it- or I know someone who has. I can help <3 or at the very least, support you.
You’re not alone. No one is.