Another important step to overcome phobias is to manage the physical symptoms that a person experiences when he is exposed to the feared object or situation such as racing heartbeat, breathing difficulties, suffocation etc. A person tends to get more anxious due to such symptoms and they make the situation worse. So it is highly essential to learn the relaxation skills to manage the physical anxiety during the exposure of feared object or situation. Deep breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises and meditation are the effective tools to manage the symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks or extreme fear. When we are anxious, we engage in shallow breathing, which further escalates the physical symptoms of anxiety.
When we breathe deeply from the abdomen, we can actually reverse such physical signs. A person cannot be upset or feel anxious when he breathes deeply and at a slow pace. It is important that a person does regular practice of such exercises, during the exposure of the feared object or situation and otherwise as well. These exercises help the phobic person to gain a control and a grip over the physical signs of anxiety. It will further make the experience of getting exposed to the feared object less horrifying and disturbing. Moreover, such relaxation exercises also improve our coping skills in general as well such as in day to day stress.
The third strategy to cope with phobias is to challenge one's limiting beliefs or thoughts that play their part in making us more fearful towards the object or a situation. Such limiting beliefs are unhelpful and unrealistic in nature and they further pulls us back from facing the feared object or situation. Due to these negative thoughts we tend to overestimate the situation and keep on thinking how bad it will be experienced if we ever encounter the feared situation. At one hand, we overestimate the terror of the situation; while on the other hand, we underestimate our coping ability such as we consider ourselves helpless and powerless against the feared situation. So it is a crucial step to challenge such thoughts in order to overcome the phobia. Thought challenging can be done by identifying the common unhelpful and limiting thoughts regarding the feared object or situation and then replacing them with positive and more realistic ones. This practice should also be done on regular basis to make it habitual.
Changing any habit, a mindset, belief or attitude is not an easy task. It requires a great amount of effort and skills to change the way our mind functions. However, planning, patience and practice are the key components of succeeding in our goals.