Phobias: how to manage them in day-to-day life

In our first installment, Faye Navesey tells us about her phobia of talking on the phone and how she's recently combatted that

Faye Navesey
30th November 2020

Phobias are a part of life. Everyone will at some point encounter them, some are harmless and easy to manage. But some spiral out of control and genuinely hinder how you go about your day, so it’s important we learn how to manage our phobias so that they don't negatively impact us.

For me, my big fear is speaking on the phone,  phone conversations used to make me feel sick and the thought of one used to make me shut down completely. Part of this is because I suffer from anxiety and social interactions like this are huge triggers for me. I used to avoid calling people at all costs and would wait days for people to return emails and messages when I know I could have had an instant response had I just phoned.

I was sort of forced into dealing with my phone phobia

After struggling with this for years I barely noticed the extent to which it impacted me until the pandemic hit, suddenly every seminar and every appointment was over Zoom or on the phone.  I was sort of forced into dealing with my phone phobia. I am not over it but I’ve learned useful things that can calm my anxiety when I’m faced with a call.

An important thing to note is that if your phobia is rooted in an anxiety disorder then managing it will be more difficult and may require medical help and counselling. Personally, getting help for my anxiety certainly helped me deal with this phobia. There are, however, some general pieces of advice that I have learned that help me manage fear. 

Small and incremental exposure to the things that scare you is more effective in the long term

The first of which is that the instinct you might have to "face your fears" head-on is generally counterproductive and could end up scaring you further. If you were getting over a fear of heights then your first instinct would not be to go skydiving would it? Small and incremental exposure to the things that scare you is more effective in the long term. And setting limits for yourself is important to ensure that you don’t do lasting damage.

The first step you take in managing fear doesn’t have to be monumental; it just has to be a step in the right direction. And when you do something that triggers you, make sure it is properly planned; not done haphazardly in a way that will only serve to stress you out further. For example, if I had a call to make I would set aside a specific time to make it and write out exactly what I wanted to say.

But take it slowly, and don’t punish yourself for getting past your fears at your own pace, no matter how slow that is

Another piece of advice is to ask for help managing your phobias, now this can come in the form of counselling for those with more serious phobias but it could also be as simple as getting a friend or family member to sit with you as you do something that forces you to deal with your phobias this way you have support there if you need it.

I know it’s easy to let fear fester, a lot of the time it’s easy to not even realise that you’ve let a phobia control how you live your life but it’s an important cycle to break. But take it slowly, and don’t punish yourself for getting past your fears at your own pace, no matter how slow that is.

Feature Image: Pixabay @mohamed_hassan

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