Step by Step to Full Recovery
Episode #10 of the course How to heal yourself from phobia step by step by Gracelynn Lau, MWS
Welcome to the last lesson of this course! Let us summarize every step we’ve learned to heal ourselves from phobia.
1. Understanding phobia: What is your real fear? The first step to healing is to reason with the irrational fear and find out WHAT it is you really fear. “I feel extremely frightened when … because …” By completing this sentence stem in writing at least six times with different completions for each time, you begin to deepen your understanding of the overwhelming fear.
2. Recreate a healthy relationship with fear. Develop a positive attitude toward fear by identifying your negative beliefs about having a phobic response and replacing them with affirmative beliefs. Get used to describing your unpleasant feelings when experiencing intense fear. By setting achievable and specific goals to healing, you set an intention to embrace fear.
3. Train your body to handle extreme stress. Teach yourself to stay with the panic moments and anchor in your body by practicing body-based exercises, including diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, developing a steady rhythm to establish a inner tempo, and grounding yourself with the Zhan Zhuang standing meditation.
4. Make a plan for self-treatment. Arrange reasonable steps between what you can handle now and what you want to be able to do. Start with something that you can do with a tiny challenge. Break down each step gradually with appropriate challenges. Make a plan to reward yourself for achieving each step.
5. Activate the power of imagination. Visualizing yourself doing the steps in your action plan—you are rehearsing for success. Create positive imagery where you feel totally relaxed and safe. Picture yourself handling the fearful situations with comfort. Notice how you can easily shift from tension to calmness in your imagination. Imagine how proud you will feel after you successfully handled your phobia. Picture your life without the limitations of phobia.
6. Observe your fear with mindfulness meditation. Bring your awareness intentionally to observe your Breath, Emotion, Sensation, and Thoughts (BEST) without judging or analyzing it. Making this mindfulness exercise a regular practice will cultivate a non-attachment and non-action response to emerging feelings within yourself and thus, result in emotion regulation and decreased amygdala activation.
7. Prepare to execute your self-treatment plan. Before you take action, determine how long you want to dedicate weekly and daily to your self-treatment. Commit to the date and time you schedule for the treatment. Start a healing journal to document your healing process before and after each session. Seek support in your immediate family and social circle. Assess your physical and mental conditions if this is a good time to undertake a self-treatment plan.
8. Start a gradual path to recovery. Predict the obstacles you will face on your path to recovery. Ask yourself how you can arrange for self-treatment if you can’t make the phobic situation happen. What coping techniques can help you stay long enough in the phobic situation to let fear reduce? How do you manage frustration and get yourself back on track? How do you handle relapse of fear?
9. Create relapse prevention strategy. Be proactive to identifying any red flags that tell you when your anxiety seems to come back, and think ahead of how you can respond differently. Make a list of high-risk situations that cause intense fear, and try to avoid them. Track your moods and body-states daily to monitor your overall emotions. Understand your own triggers and patterns, and make an actions inventory that you can follow immediately to improve your emotional state.
Congratulations! You now have the knowledge and tools to heal your phobia!
Remember: Nobody and nothing can remove the fear for you. It is impossible to get better without feeling panicky. You will feel some degree of anxiety in different stages of healing. But the more you are able and willing to look at fear, the easier it becomes. The final step, as you progress, will be easier to complete.
Time to take action and practice your skills!
All the best to your healing journey,
My Anxiety Plan for Specific Phobia by Anxiety BC
Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks by Barry McDonagh
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