Do you have a classic fear of flying? Does the prospect of public speaking scare you? Are you suffering from a case of new-job jitters? Whatever your personal panic buttons may be, you can take simple steps to rid yourself of all that anxiety once and for all. Here's how:
1. Take One Step at a Time A time-honored technique for dealing with phobias is called "desensitization." The idea is to expose yourself gradually to whatever you dread until you've finally conquered your demons. Maybe riding in an elevator makes you claustrophobic, but you'd like to get over that so you can comfortably visit your daughter at her new high-rise apartment in the city. Find a building near your house that has an elevator. For a couple of days, ride to the second floor and back down. That wasn't so bad, was it? Now go to the fourth floor. Keep this up until you can hit the button for the top floor with no problem at all. The same technique works for eliminating other fears including driving on the expressway, shopping in crowded stores, going places you've never been to, or any activity that you'd rather avoid.
2. Banish Negative Self-Talk If you're like a lot of people, you're your own worst critic. The solution is to catch yourself when you start sabotaging your self-image. Focus instead on what's right about you. Let's say you find yourself thinking, "I'm not as experienced as the rest of the team at the office." Turn that around and tell yourself, "This is an exciting opportunity to learn new skills and I'll bet I'll be good at what's expected of me." Or maybe you say to yourself , "I'll probably stumble over my speech for the Neighborhood Watch meeting and make a fool of myself." Change that to "What I have to say about safety around here is important, so I'll do the best I can to get my points across." Remember, nobody is as harsh a judge of you as you are!Levels Of Self Esteem Change With Age
3. Get Support Whatever your fears may be, it's a sure bet you're not alone. Why not do a search for groups that offer the chance to share what scares you and hear how others are learning to cope? Whether you join a community online or attend real time get-togethers, interacting with like-minded people will go a long way toward easing your anxiety.
4. Try Journaling Buy a pretty blank book or make a folder on your computer and then spend a little time each day writing about your successes as you work toward building up your courage. After a week or two, take a look back at what you wrote earlier. You'll probably be surprised and even amused at how much fear you're foiling!
5. Get Rid of Catastrophic Thinking Do you find yourself imagining worst-case scenarios? When you contemplate getting on a plane, do you think, "What if it crashes?" Does that notion pop into your head even though you've heard that you're statistically safer in a plane than in a car? The solution is to force yourself to think positively as in "I'd never have the time see the grandchildren in California if I had to drive all the way from the East Coast to get there. I'm so glad air travel will take me across the country in only a few hours." Do this often enough, and you'll convince yourself that flying is a boon instead of a bane.
6. Take a Mental Vacation When you're stressing out about something that you have to do that frightens you, close your eyes and transport yourself to a safe and peaceful place. Pick one of your favorite calming destinations such as a beach in the evening when the crowds are gone or a forest trail on a perfect summer day or a backyard barbecue complete with the scent of grilling burgers and the laughter of children. Ahh! Don't you feel better already?
7. Make Sure Your Lifestyle Is Healthy Some people try to mask fears by having an extra glass of wine or indulging in rich food or, worst of all, smoking. All those ploys are guaranteed to backfire. You'll be braver and feel better if you stick to eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
8. Give Yourself A Reward Did you go to a restaurant alone even though doing that seemed impossible when you first found yourself suddenly single? You deserve a little treat for good behavior. You might decide to order that trashy novel you've been wanting to read or buy some sparkly costume jewelry that catches your eye. There's nothing wrong with bribing yourself to get over your self-limiting terrors. Before long, you'll have a bold sense of freedom that will let you look at each new day as an adventure instead of a threat. Good for you!
Also Popular On ThirdAge: