Did you know that more than 8 percent of people 18 and over have at least one extreme, specific fear? And, did you know that having these fears can harm your mental health?
From an increase in anxiety, depression and PTSD to altering your life, fears can take control and sometimes can grow into something worse — agoraphobia (a fear of leaving a safe space such as inside your home because of what awaits you beyond those doors).
But, fears don’t have to hold you back. In fact, there are ways to overcome your fears.
How fears take shape
Fears happen one of two ways — they occur after a traumatic event or happen slowly over time. Often, they start out as something innocuous, but if not dealt with, evolve into full-fledged fears.
For example, if someone is leery of snakes and then watches a video, that leeriness can begin to transform into fear. A person begins to go over the idea of snakes in their head and keeps going over it until it becomes something bigger.
The best ways to face your fears
There are numerous ways to face your fears head on and work to combat them.
- Visualization – When you fear something, you’re visualizing the worst possible outcome. Flip the script and instead visualize the best possible outcome. Imagine yourself facing your fear and managing or handling it. Find a quiet space and steady your breath, and then work through your fear. If you’re afraid of snakes, visualize being with a snake. Visualize the snake with you and not being harmed. Take note of the calmness and how it feels. Continue this visualization until you are able to move to the next step — exposure therapy.
- Exposure therapy – Exposure therapy is just that — being exposed to your fear. Going back to the snake fear, actually put yourself in a room with a snake to face your fear directly. You don’t have to go through the visualization process to move to exposure therapy, you can skip right to this if you’re ready.
- Professional help – Fears are very treatable and can be treated via talk therapy, hypnosis and EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing). These treatments can help you discover the root of your fears and help you to work through them.
Are you ready to overcome your fears? Be brave and know it can be done.