Fear feels so real, yet we know that it isn’t based on fact.

A phobia causes very strong, intense experiences at the most inconvenient of times.

It’s a block to a well lived fulfilled life we want to create as human beings.  Yet, when triggered, the whole body and mind are mired in the experience in a way that is deep and raw. 

Developing little rituals to get through the worst is helpful to provide temporary relief.

One can develop several coping mechanisms to deal with a phobia that will eventually diminish the fear.   

Informing Your Decisions

A first coping is to mentally rehearse words chosen in advance and then focus on breathing and letting time pass slowly.  There are other important coping tools that are very important to develop.

Intellectually, it helps to understand how the brain gets triggered by a phobia. Fear is actually an important emotion. It helps govern our decision-making process to help us stay alive. For example, let’s say you needed to cross a river. The crossing in front of you has fast-moving water and rapids. The water is deep and the only way to get across is to swim. You can feel yourself be nervous at such a prospect. So, you explore other options and find a bridge a half-mile down-river. Although this is a mild case, it does help us understand how fear can inform your decision-making process.

The Irrationality of Phobias

With a phobia, your fear goes into overdrive. That desire for self-preservation gets kicked into high gear when you experience such dread. Recognize that your phobia is an irrational, fear-based response that is not based in reality. For example, let’s say that you are always worried something bad will happen when flying. Thus, you make choices that enable you to avoid air travel. This feels legitimate and seems to keep you safe.

The problem? Very few people die each year from flying. Also, there has been no other time when commercial air travel has been so safe. With this in mind, you can begin to confront-not avoid- your irrational phobia through simple, fact-based logic.

Learning to Slow Down

Another positive way to cope with a phobia is by learning to slow down. When you experience fear from a phobia, things start to move quickly. Your brain begins processing information much faster. When you talk, it’s as if your words just blurt out of your mouth. Even physiologically, your body moves more quickly. You breathe faster and your heart beats quicker to deliver oxygen and blood throughout your body.

However, if you slow down, it is less likely that you’ll be caught up in the phobia and can make better choices. Some ways to do this include:

  • Taking a few deep breaths
  • Stepping away from the trigger if possible
  • Sitting down to let yourself feel the emotion
  • Humming a tune or sing softly to yourself
  • Lighting lavender scented candles to helps you relax
  • Counting slowly to yourself

Using EMDR to Cope with a Phobia

Specifically, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) can help you better cope with the anxiety related to a phobia. In EMDR, you receive bilateral stimulation by tracking an object back-and-forth with your eyes, rr you might hold two buzzers, one in each hand, that emit a soft buzzing sensation.

Involving an awareness of your body and specifically your heart rate is a very important practice to develop.  Working with a trained therapist on developing somatic awareness helps more than working on it by yourself. 

A somatic therapist guides you safely to confront your phobia and teaches you to develop the same tools by yourself. Eventually, it becomes easier to do this. Ultimately, you will have less of a fearful response to your phobia than when you started. It might even be eliminated entirely.

Coping with irrational fear requires multiple tools. Understanding why you have the phobia and how it affects you is important. By slowing down with the right support, you can learn to manage it. When you are ready, participating in therapy such as EMDR can help you find a permanent solution and a better quality of life.