In the US alone, 9 percent of all people have some kind of specific phobia, according to the US National Institute of Mental Health. Phobias are one of the most common mental disorders worldwide, and one of the most untreated. People often elect to simply live with an irrational fear for their entire lives. However, if you are someone who would like to take the path of getting over your fears, read on. Similar to treating the effects of stress, the first step you have to make is to attack the symptoms.
Create A Self-Care Plan
To best deal with the effects of phobias, you need a cool, clear head. When exposed to a phobia, perform anti-anxiety exercises to calm down. As a rule of thumb, do not fight the symptoms of panic when they come. For example, instead of trying to suppress your heartbeat, work it off by taking a walk or a lap, depending on what pace you’re comfortable with. The important thing to remember is that no phobia can truly be beaten down with sheer strength of will. Rather, working through it is a process that you must undergo in full. Employing coping strategies is the best way to prime yourself for this process. There will always be setbacks in getting over your phobias, but as long as you know how to re-stabilize yourself, you can bounce back. Powerful memories and sentiments are some of your best tools here. Picture a happy place, do something that you thoroughly enjoy, or spend time with someone you love. All of these help to mentally prepare you before facing your fears.
Rationalize The Experience
It may sound like an oxymoron to rationalize an irrational fear, but one of the best ways you can combat them is to paint them in a more critical light. Look at the evidence against having such fears and challenge their validity. For example, if you are afraid of spiders because of their venomous bite, know that less than 1 percent of all spider species can actually administer venom. Similarly, irrational fear of water can be dispelled by knowing the factors that cause drowning and simply taking steps to avoid them. If you can, try to envision the worst thing that can happen between you and the thing you irrationally fear. Chances are, you will come to realize the impossibility of such a thing happening, and will thus cause the symptoms of panic to subside.
Find A Support System
Communication is vital to dealing with problems such as phobias. Sharing your fears with someone you trust is a great way to gain some new perspective on them. It helps even more if the person you are talking to has experience with the thing you fear. They can reassure you that your phobia is mostly harmless, or at least, unlikely to be encountered. If you think professional help is necessary, you can consider talking to your doctor for psychotherapy and counseling references. Some institutions also offer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy over the phone or the internet. If help from friends and family is not enough, professional intervention can be one of your best tools to conquering your phobia once and for all.
The path to overcoming an irrational fear can be long and difficult. However, the intense feeling of satisfaction you get after mastering yourself and being rid of a phobia is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.