Having a phobia is not something to joke about, so I wanted to share my ideas for phobia treatment – ways to manage it better through these phobia tips.
There are a whole host of phobias that people develop and they can be really debilitating. During my travels I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone in an attempt to manage some of mine.
Sure, they’ll always be there, but I now have the skills and tools to not let them take over my life, which is particularly vital for me now that I have children. I don’t want to pass my fears on. And so, I thought I’d share the phobia tips that have worked for me.
7 Phobia Tips That Worked For Me
First off, I thought it might be helpful if I shared my fears, so here goes…
I’m scared of spiders, snakes, daddy-longlegs (they seem to love me though), heights…I think you get the idea. I have a huge phobia relating to sharks. Even writing this post makes me feel on edge. I don’t need to be near them or even near water to feel the effects of this phobia. In the past I couldn’t even look at a picture of one. Yep, it was that bad.
These days, those phobias are still there but are now a lot more manageable.
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1. Be Patient
So it might take you a few run ups or you might have a wobbly bottom lip. Who cares? If you do it in the end, what does it matter how long it takes? Don’t be hard on yourself. Persevere.
You’ll be surprised at how suddenly you can just go for it in a snap second decision. That’s what happened to me when I jumped into a cenote in Mexico.
It may have taken me quite a few runs ups, but I eventually plucked up the courage to jump off the rocky edge down (down and doooooown) into the rainbow of turquoise blue water. Heights and water ticked in one quick jump. I’m glad I did it, but equally glad it was quick.
Skydiving isn’t as quick as you think. You have to go through the preparations on the ground and then take the flight.
Rather than worrying about the actual jump, focus on each of those small tasks. Before you’ve had time to realise, you’ll be up in that plane, perched on the edge. This approach can be transferred to loads of other situations. Take those baby steps – they soon add up.
Even before I started my round the world trip I was adamant that I would never skydive. I categorically refused to even entertain the idea.
Fast forward three months and there I am free-falling over the wine valleys of Melbourne. Legs kicking, arms waving about, mouth wide open screaming. Have you tried screaming that high up and at that speed? It’s pretty hard and you consequently feel like you can’t breathe. Not good.
Would I do one again? No.
What is good? Knowing that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
3. Deep Breaths
As you get more worked up your heart will probably feel like it’s going to burst out of your chest, your hands may get sweaty and you’ll probably be really fidgety.
It is hard, but try to concentrate on steadying your breathing. Deeeeep looooong breaths. It’s a simple, yet effective calming technique.
When we went to Canada we went on the Capilano Suspension Bridge. My 3 year old had no fear, running up and down the wobbly bridge. I, on the other hand, was terrified. I didn’t want to pass that fear on, so I went for the grin and bear it approach, deep breathing my way across.
Recommended Reading: Will Travel and My Son Break My Heart?
4. Talk the Talk
Positive talking and self belief are really powerful tools. Rather than filling your mind with “I can’t”, “I won’t”, “I might” say “I am…” – you’ll soon convince yourself and everyone around you. Positivity is infectious.
I also think shrinking the image in your mind and turning it from colour to black and white is invaluable. Whenever an image of a shark or something pops up, I scale it back and turn the colour off and it really does help me.
5. Build a Support Network
Surround yourself with shiny, happy people who will encourage and inspire you. Anyone that makes fun of you/your fears is not worth your time.
If you’re on a RTW trip, most people are like-minded travellers who will usually be really positive and fun. You’ll be surprised and endeared by the compassion shown by people you’ve only met for a few minutes. A big hug can always be a massive help.
You only live once. Live for the moment. Be a little crazy and spontaneous. Surprise your friends. Hey, surprise yourself.
If you’re not on your travels just yet, you probably won’t believe me when I say that you’ll end up doing some stuff you never thought you would. I did loads of things I never thought I’d even contemplate, let alone do. Travel is all about trying new things and learning. Give it a go!
7. Re-live It
Success tastes so sweet. Cling on to those amazing endorphins, take loads of photographs or videos, and remember as much of that satisfaction as possible. Use times where you’ve dealt with other fears to give yourself the confidence and belief to at least give it a go. Whether you enjoy or it not, I bet you’ll feel incredibly proud and have an enormous sense of accomplishment.
Other Options for Phobia Treatment
There are plenty of other techniques for facing fear. These ones worked for me, so I hope they help you. However, if they’re not you’re thing you could consider any of the following:
1. Seek a Therapist.
There are different options, from person-centred where the therapist encourages you to explore your worries to find a solution, to CBT where the therapist gives you a bit more guidance. There are also a whole range of other therapists and counsellors. I’d recommend exploring the BACP site.
2. Seek a Hypnotist
Perhaps considered as a more extreme measure, people have been known to seek the help of a hypnotist. I’ve been hypnotized before, but not for a phobia. I’d recommend reading this page from the NHS to understand a bit more.
3. Rescue Remedy
This is an alternative product made from flower essences that comes in a dropper or spray format. It’s been around for years and many rate it for its calming abilities.
I have tried it, but I don’t think it worked for me. That’s not to say it won’t for you.
4. Consult Your GP
If you want someone to chat to or a bit of a steer in the right direction you could try consulting your GP. You may be referred to a specialist. However, this often comes with a long wait.
Again, I tried this route when my shark phobia was getting in the way of day to day life. However, I didn’t have a supportive GP, so this didn’t work for me.
You Can Do It
I guess I wanted to show you that your phobias don’t need to prevent you from travelling the world and experiencing adventures.
Even if you only try an activity once – at least you can say you know what it’s about, what it feels like and have an informed opinion on it.
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What tips have helped you deal with your fears when travelling? What’s your biggest phobia? Do you have a great success story? Maybe you managed a bungee jump or a shark dive? X