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Top Strategies For How To Face Your Fears

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” – The late, great Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa.

Got a crippling fear of flying which keeps you grounded? It’s been said that the recent Germanwings disaster has only exacerbated people’s flying phobias, despite the fact that apparent pilot murder-suicide is exceptionally rare.

RELATED: Fear of Flying – And How To Overcome It

But that’s the thing with fear, isn’t it? It’s like the stories we tell ourselves; nightmares which usually have very little chance of becoming our reality. In other words, a phobia, such as a fear of flying, aka aviophobia and aviatophobia, is an intense fear which is out of proportion to the actual danger.

But the lack of clear and present peril – the reality of a situation – often isn’t enough to soothe our ills when we’re paralysed by fear. One of my best friends has such a morbid fear of flying, it has, at times, impeded her ability to run an international marketing company. And so, on the rare occasion she does fly overseas, she has to drug herself up to the eyeballs with valium just to be able to board a plane, which is far from ideal.

fear, phobias, relaxation strategies

For me, it’s a ridiculous fear of going to the dentist, aka odontophobia and dentophobia. I’ve skydived, hot-air ballooned and given birth to two large babies, but my dentistry fear is a real issue for me. I had painful braces as a child, so I don’t need a psych to tell me (although my mum is one, which sure comes in handy at times) that my dentist phobia stems from that and I associate dentistry with great displeasure and discomfort.

I really, really hate going to the dentist and break out in a cold sweat each and every time. In fact, it’s so bad that I haven’t been in years. Luckily for me, I have good, strong healthy teeth with very little cavities… Um, well not that I’d actually know. So, I’m off to the dentist for the first time in years in a few weeks and I may need some serious, free counselling from my mother to help me make the appointment!

What’s your phobia? They’re so common, many of us have at least one. Another popular fear is public speaking, aka glossophobia or speech anxiety. For my husband, it’s a fear of underground carparks; an inexplicable mix of claustrophobia and a fear of natural disasters.

Overcoming fears takes a great deal of courage, patience and plain hard work, say clinical psychologists. They advise that the first step in facing our fears is to identify specifically what it is that we are afraid of. For example, in the case of fear of flying, are we afraid that the plane will crash, or is it anxiety about being trapped in an enclosed space for a long period of time? And, as in my case of fear of going to the dentist, is it intense discomfort at lying on my back with my mouth wide open, i.e., loss of control? Or is it the fear of the pain that I may experience? I’d say it’s both – not to mention a fear of the excessive amount I’ll be billed!

fear, phobias, relaxation strategies

Top psychs say that once we know exactly what we’re afraid of, we can start to address this using the following strategies:

Address your specific fears by challenging your troubling thoughts: For example, if you’re thinking that the plane will crash, remind yourself how rarely this occurs; do some research and find the statistics; remind yourself that you have a greater chance of having a car accident than being in a plane crash and inform yourself about the many safety features of modern planes.

Alternatively, if – like me – you’re worried that the discomfort of dental work will be too great and that you won’t be able to bear it, you can plan to talk to your dentist about sedation, for pain-free dentistry is just about possible these days. Happy days!

Think of a comforting mantra you can use to reassure yourself: Use this mantra to calm yourself and repeat it when feeling afraid. Try something such as: “It’s absolutely fine, plane travel is very safe, millions of people travel by plane every week and they arrive safely.”

Use relaxation strategies such as slow deep breathing: Find a technique that works for you, such as muscle relaxation, visualisation of a pleasant place where you feel safe and happy and distracting yourself by listening to music or reading. Try to build up a repertoire of tools which help you to relax.

fear, phobias, relaxation strategies

However, if you’re still struggling, these strategies aren’t effective in alleviating your fears and if a specific phobia is impacting on your quality of life, you might want to consider seeking professional help, such as counselling, to address those fears. There’s no harm in it – only in not facing your fears.

What do you think? What fear do you suffer from?

Images via makeupandbeauty.com, deltadentalazblog.com and brynblankinship.com

Overcoming Your Children’s Fears

When I innocently bought Finding Nemo on DVD for my daughter last year, I never expected that watching it would cause her so much distress.  I realised after a few weeks that children have fears that can seem so silly to adults, but when you look at them from their perspective, they’re not so silly after all. Bath times in our household used to be fun, with plenty of smiles and laughter, but then they turned sour (coincidentally after she had watched Finding Nemo a number of times) and she began refusing to step foot in the bath.  We soon realised that she was terrified of being sucked down the plughole and washed away to the ocean, just as Nemo had been in the movie.  Despite how hard we tried to explain to her that it was impossible, she wouldn’t budge.

At first it was extremely frustrating as sponge baths were all that we could manage, but eventually after many discussions and lots of praise she started to come around. If your child has a fear, here are some helpful tips that may come in handy on the road to overcoming them. 

Be patient. As frustrating as it may be, accept that it may be some time before your child is ready to tackle their fear again.  It could be days, weeks, maybe even years, but eventually their fear should start to ease and become more bearable.

Encourage your child to confront their fear but don’t force them to do something they don’t want to do.  Ultimately this could make the situation far worse and the road to recovery even longer.

Ask your child to explain why they are scared of something and then reassure them that there is no reason for them to be scared because monsters aren’t real, or because they can’t physically fit down the plughole.

Understand your child’s fear but don’t necessarily say that you share the same view because this could imply to the child that there is in fact something to be scared of.

Comfort them when they are in fear. Laughing or ignoring your child’s plea for help could only damage their fragile state.

Try a reward system. If your child is successful in confronting their fear or even taking a small step towards doing so, praise them accordingly or give them a reward for being so brave.

Do you have a fear?  If so, think about what you feel like when you’re scared.  As adults, we can rationalise situations and we have the capacity to understand fears.  Young children who are only starting out in the world don’t yet have those abilities so fear to them can be extremely overwhelming.  If you feel like your child is struggling to overcome their fear there are always people you can contact for advice.  Try your GP, a parent line or even a psychologist. 

I’m happy to say that my daughter loves bath times again, although it took months for her to have toys in the bath again.  She was scared they too would be sucked into oblivion, so for a long time bath times were simple.  But eventually we got there and for us it all came down to one simple thing – patience. 

Image via newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/when-children-avoid-scary-situations-they-are-likelier-to-develop-anxiety/

By Karyn Miller

How to Be a Master Mingler?

Does the thought of an evening stuck with some of your work mates leave you in a less-than-happy mood? Have no fear we have some tips to ease your pain:
When you arrive: scan the room for the party layout. That way, you can excuse yourself from the conversation (to refill a drink, use the bathrooms etc) without breaking eye contact. One of the best things an old boss told me was that “wandering eyes make someone feel you are bored.
“The best conversation is by starting it yourself. Even if you are nervous saying something will break the ice for both parties. Think about something you have read in the paper be interesting and well read.Keep the flirty tipsy boss at bay by locking your elbow when shaking hands. You’ll send him a polite but firm message about your personal space and let him know that he doesn’t need to plant a sloppy fat one on your pretty face.

Don’t feel bad about ending a conversation. The best way to do this is to say, “it’s been so much fun talking to you – but I don’t want to monopolise your time. Then Fa-la-la your way over to the bar to order a quick drink.

See, ya did it!

Win a brand new Hyundai
Win a brand new Hyundai