Is claustrophobia ruling your life? Do you have a fear of small spaces and find yourself avoiding elevators, airplane rides or the middle of a crowded room?
Although the causes of claustrophobia are not exactly known, chances are you experienced a traumatic event in the past that has led you to develop this specific phobia.
In order to stop discomforting feelings, panic attacks and avoidance behavior, you must stop dredging up this distressing event that you blame your claustrophobia on.
This memory has allowed you to develop negative habits. You may have fooled yourself by thinking if I just avoid airplanes and packed rooms, I’ll be okay.
But this could have significant impacts on your career and personal life. Is it really acceptable to miss a family reunion or a work networking party because of your fears?
Forget about the past in order to stop self-perpetuating your phobia.
Claustrophobia is an Irrational Fear
Learn that what you are scared of happening during a phobic moment or panic attack is irrational.
You may fear that whenever you ride an elevator, it will break down causing you to be forever trapped or that the walls will close in on you.
Your logical brain will tell you the likelihood of the first scenario happening is small and the chance the second scenario will occur is nil.
But the amygdala portion of your brain plays tricks on you making your phobic emotions feel very real.
Your Amygdala is Responsible for Your Claustrophobia Symptoms
Instead of only switching “on” when an actual danger is looming, the amygdale, of someone with a specific phobia, is activated even when false dangers present themselves.
A fired amygdala causes symptoms such as a racing heart, heavy breathing, sweating and light-headedness.
When these symptoms become extreme, claustrophobia panic attacks may occur, characterized by hyperventilation or the sensation of having a heart attack.
By changing your conscious thoughts and breaking your subconscious habits, you can eliminate your phobic behavior and begin experiencing aspects of life you have been passing up.
Reprogramming Your Brain
It may sound impossible to reprogram your consciousness and subconscious habits, forget about past traumas and to stop avoiding places.
But by taking charge of your life and practicing daily exercises, you CAN eliminate all symptoms of claustrophobia.
Get rid of phobic habits by removing anything that reminds you of your anxious behavior.
Just like someone, who is trying to quit smoking, throws out all the ashtrays, lighters and cigarettes in his house, you must “throw out” anything that promotes your claustrophobia.
Try to avoid the temptation of constantly reading and researching your specific phobia.
This practice is reminding your subconscious about your claustrophobia and could even make your anxiety worse.
Steer clear of counseling sessions where events from the past, related to your phobia, are constantly dredged up.
Do not allow claustrophobia to be the main topic of conversation with others.
The goal is to try to divert your conscious thoughts from focusing on your anxiety disorder, so you can overcome it.
You can also use hobbies, exercise, community service and other activities as diversions.
Maybe you are obsessing over a plane trip that you have to take next week; use distractions to avoid this chronic angst.
Participating in a pursuit, such as photography, craft making, cooking, gardening, playing chess repairing a vehicle or geocaching will give you something else to concentrate on besides your phobia.
Going for a jog or practicing Qi Kung will allow you to relax and feel good inside your skin.
Volunteering at a soup kitchen or drop-in center will redirect your attention on others, rather than on your anxious thoughts, and make you feel good about yourself at the same time.
One of the techniques you can use to eliminate claustrophobia is exposure.
Think about the small spaces that cause you panic and that you try to avoid. Pick one place to focus on and visit that place everyday.
Start by exposing yourself to the enclosed space, with someone you trust, for five minutes. Gradually increase the time you spend in this space.
Through increased exposure, you will realize that your fear is irrational and that what you are scared of happening does not actually occur.
Even if you have a panic attack during the exposure, it will not last forever and it will not cause you physical harm.
Eventually try tackling this space alone. Once you have conquered that space, move on to the next.
You can eliminate claustrophobia by breaking subconscious habits, changing conscious thoughts and incorporating visualization, breathing and relaxation exercises into your life.
You are no longer a passive patient waiting to be cured; you are an active participant in your own healing process.
The more consistent you are with changing past behaviors, thoughts and memories, the more effective the claustrophobia treatment will be.