Overcoming fears and phobias usually entails hours of therapy, and can be tedious, difficult and expensive and require a professional on hand.. But dont worry there are other options that could help make the process a little less strenuous. Self-help techniques are nothing new but in the world of therapy they can be a game changer. Lets go over some self-help techniques to help overcome fear.
Follow these 6 steps to relieve your fears
These methods vary, from eastern style holistic meditation and yoga to self help through online courses and even self guided VR programs. relaxation techniques may help ease your anxiety in the short term. Remember that treatment, such as exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or medication, can take time to become fully successful. So stick with the process and chug along until you find the results you're looking for.
Step 1: Identifying the problem
The first step of the process is understanding what it is that you struggle with. We need to better understand fear, phobia and anxiety before we can hope to overcome it. This is a very important first step, as it helps you understand what is happening when you experience fear. All the worries and physical feelings you are experiencing have a name.
Keep in mind: Anxiety is normal and adaptive because it helps us prepare for danger. Therefore, the goal is to learn to manage anxiety, not eliminate it.
It is also important to know that phobias are common. Having a phobia does not mean that you are weak or going crazy. Phobias can be successfully managed! After all, many people have learned to overcome their fears, and to „override‟ their immediate fear response.
Step 2: Is your fear justified or irrational?
The next step is to discern between an irrational fear and real fear. Analyze the situation you find frightening and figure out what exactly about the object or situation terrifies you. Is it the noise it makes? Or the way it moves? Is it the fear of being trapped? If you don't work out the real focus of your fears, you could be wasting time trying to overcome the wrong problem, or be making the work more difficult than it needs to be.
Step 3: Be honest with your self
Step three is being real with yourself. A lot of what terrifies people is them mulling over the fear in their head, building it into a monstrous terrifying issue, much bigger than it really is. Oftentimes the anxious thoughts that people have due to their phobia are unrealistic, or very unlikely. Remember: we learn our irrational fears, but we can also unlearn them. Being honest and real with yourself and your fears can be a very useful tool in conquering and overcoming these fears. Coupled with this step is really getting to know your fear. Sometimes people fear situations because they have false misconceptions about what the situation is or can go wrong. People fear flying, fear that when the plane hits turbulence it’ll just drop out of the sky. However after a quick Google search you can easily understand that due to air pressure and the nature of physics, that simply won't happen. While this may sound a bit facetious, coming to terms and understanding your fear can really help you overcome them.
As you work on the underlying issues behind your phobias, consider these relaxation techniques and find the one that works best for you.
Step 4: Time to get out there and actually face your fear!
The next piece of the puzzle is actually facing your fears. You can prepare, learn and strategize from now to the end of time but you will never achieve anything without actually facing your fears. This technique is part of a bigger step in therapy, called exposure therapy, but you can do it too. Now, if you have a fear of heights for example don't go stand on the edge of a high-rise. Rather gradually immerse yourself in a situation where you will be confronted with the things you fear. By repeatedly exposing yourself to the feared object or situation in a safe and controlled way you learn to “ride out” the anxiety and distress until it passes. This process requires courage and determination. Sometimes your anxiety is so high that you cannot imagine resisting it. Anyone who decides to try exposing themselves to their fears needs to draw up a personal “training program”. This means working out where they are now, deciding where they want to be at the end, and fitting as many gradual “exposure” steps in between as they need.
Step 5: Chill out
Up next is learning to relax. Within learning to relax we actually have a few options. These can either be done as separate activities or used together, hand in hand.
Meditation is a fantastic tool for remaining stress free in everyday life but also has great applications for getting through fears. Meditation can soothe your nerves, making you more relaxed overall. Although you may still experience a phobic reaction, meditating before facing the situation can make your symptoms less severe.
Research shows that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), which is based on mindfulness meditation, helps people with social anxiety disorder regulate their emotions better, for example. In one study, people who completed an MBSR program were less anxious and depressed - and felt better self-esteem.
2: Yoga is another great tool for maintaining a peaceful mind.
There's early evidence that yoga may be able to help anxiety disorders, which is good news for people with phobias. Like meditation, yoga can help to lower your overall level of stress. Your phobia may still appear, but with regular yoga, your symptoms may be less severe.
3: Progressive Muscle Relaxation
In this technique, you will begin at your feet and rhythmically contract and relax each muscle group, in turn, working your way up your body to your head. This is another great technique to use when confronting your feared object or situation.
Visualization is the art of taking your mind through a series of soothing images. Some phobia sufferers find that using visualization techniques can help to lessen a phobic reaction that is already in progress.
Autogenic relaxation involves blending visualization techniques with purposeful breathing and repetitive physical motion. This is tricky to learn on your own, so find out if your doctor or therapist can teach you.
How to Practice Autogenic Training for Relaxation
Like almost anything else, relaxation techniques are learned skills. Practice your skills as often as possible so that they become almost second nature. Confronting your phobia is never easy, but using these relaxation tips can help you get through a feared situation.
Simple lifestyle changes can also help you get your phobia symptoms under control. It's important to try to make exercise, proper sleep, and healthy meals a regular part of your life. You may also want to avoid caffeine and other stimulants so that you feel more relaxed.
Step 6: Consistency is key, practice makes perfect
The final step in overcoming your fears is persistence and bravery. It's not an easy path or feat to achieve. Sticking with it, consistency, is key. Being proactive and goal oriented as well as brave is the way to achieve the desired results.
Dealing with your fears on your own through the above mentioned techniques is commendable, but sometimes is not enough or too difficult. There are other options besides for therapy like joining support groups or utilizing online services.
Look into support groups
Join a peer support group. In peer support, you'll share experiences with others facing similar challenges. It can feel comforting to know that you're not alone. Other people may also be able to suggest different coping methods you can try. Try online support groups. Online support can be particularly useful at times when you aren't able to go out. Or if you find it hard to talk to people on the phone or face-to-face. Online communities can offer support and are monitored for your safety.
Learn to manage panic and anxiety
Learning to manage the panic and anxiety you feel from your phobia can be really difficult. But by doing this, you might feel more in control around your trigger situation or object.
Learn relaxation techniques. There are many different relaxation techniques available. They range from meditation, to breathing control and stretching. See our pages on relaxation for more information.
Try coping methods for panic attacks. During a panic attack, try focusing on your breathing or senses, and stamping on the spot. For more details about panic attacks and how to cope, see our page on panic attacks.
Use self-help resources
Some people use self-help books or online programmes to help cope with phobias.
These are often based on principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). They will help you develop your own programme to reduce anxiety and make it easier to deal with your phobia triggers.
Online programmes and resources. You could also try online self-help programmes. You may have to pay for these, or you may be able to access them for free through your GP. For example, there are several CBT based courses online both on web and in VR for helping you cope with your anxiety.
Take a course for your specific phobia
Some organizations run courses in-person to help people overcome specific phobias.
For example, courses may be run by:
airline companies and airports, to help people overcome their fear of flying
zoos, to help people reduce their fear of certain animals or insects.
Take care when researching these online, as you might come across photos that trigger your phobia. It might be a good idea to ask a friend or family member to look them up for you.
These courses vary in price, availability and how they are run. Many courses are based on hypnosis or CBT principles such as exposure therapy.
One such course is our braVeR VR app on the Oculus Quest 2. Our app allows you to immerse yourself in environments that frighten you without the risks or limitations. This new technological frontier is the start of a wave of new techniques across many different fields.
Therapy is a wonderful process for overcoming all sorts of mental inhibitions, but it can become tiresome and drawn out. Perhaps you need a additional attention away form the therapists couch, on your own, in the real world. You don't need to spend hours invested in time and money to change. By sticking to a solid well formulated self help program you can really change. Follow these self-help techniques and stick to a schedule, you can move forward and overcome!
Only through adversity can you expect results. Be Better. Be BraVeR.