It’s the beginning of September and the spiders are out in force, coming indoors at this time of the year as the weather changes. Fear of spiders is called Arachnophobia and it is a very common phobia. So how to cope with your spider phobia?
I recently helped Wendy who had a long-term fear of spiders. With just one session of hypnotherapy, we were able to cure this phobia allowing her to deal with these eight-legged creatures in a much more controlled way.
How To Overcome Your Fear Of Spiders
As Wendy says, when faced with a spider her anxiety was so high that she once jumped on the dining table to wait for her husband to come home and deal with it. Her flight or fight response naturally kicked in to help her with her anxiety levels. Her heart rate, breathing rate and adrenaline levels increased.
If you have a similar response to spiders or other phobias you will know that someone telling you to calm down is not very helpful. Instead, a good method is to learn to control your breathing and stay calm, with the understanding that the spider or other fear will not actually hurt you.
Generally, when we are stressed our breathing quickens and when we are relaxed and calm we take deep slow breaths. By reversing your panic and anxiety symptoms when confronted by a spider, reducing hyperventilation and guiding your body towards being calmer, you will be in control. Also by mentally relaxing your mind and slowing your breathing rate, you will feel strong and in control of your fear.
Deep breathing techniques are powerful and can be used to:
- To calm anxiety and panic attacks
- Reduces your breathing when you hyperventilate
- To calm your emotional arousal when you are in the presence of a spider
- To relax and be in control of your mind and body
During her hypnotherapy session, I helped Wendy learn how to control her response when she sees a spider, giving her time to use relaxation techniques before her anxiety has a chance to escalate.
Here’s how to teach yourself deep breathing techniques that you can then use when confronted by your fears.
Deep Breathing For Fears And Phobias
Sit in a quiet place on your couch or lie on your bed and make your body comfortable (this might be difficult when you are anxious due to the presence of a spider but try to sit somewhere where you can relax).
Notice where you are tense and anxious and where you hold it in your body – tighten your muscles and relax them. Place both hands on your tummy and take deep long breaths – gently breath in and out, fill your lungs and then let go. You will feel your tummy inflating and falling with each in-breath and out-breath and not your chest. Notice how each in-breath feels and how it feels on the out-breath. Focus on your tummy as you breath out.
To get the best benefit in order to gain control over your overall breathing patterns always practice this at least 4 -5 times a day.
How to cope with your fear of spiders or other phobias: A practical technique:
- On a scale of 0 to 10 (with 10 the most scared) rate, your anxiety or nervousness with regards the fear you feel,
- Relax your mind and keep your eyes closed,
- Visualise the situation or imagine (first image) what it is like when you see a spider or experience your phobia. See what you see and hear what you would hear when you are in this situation and observe the tension, anxiety, panic and nervousness,
- Now imagine another image (second image) inside your first image, but this time virtualise yourself being calm and confident. Create a big image of yourself fighting this fear and winning, use previous experiences of being successful at something to help you recreate how this feels,
- Bring in the first image of that fearful situation, looking and hearing what you would when you are faced with seeing the spider, feeling scared and anxious,
- Quickly squash this fear your second image – calm and confident, breathing gently notice everything around you and the way you feel and behave,
- Focus on the calm image for about five seconds,
- Then open and quickly close your eyes,
- Now repeat your steps 4 till 8 for another 9 repetitions (repeating it for a total 10 times),
- Check if your nervousness and anxiety has come down between on a 0 to 10 scale
- If you still feel stressed repeat steps 4 to 8 for another 10 repetitions until you feel comfortable.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) uses systematic desensitisation and exposure therapy involving restructuring the way you think about spiders.
CBT helps by restructuring the way you feel (fear) and think about spiders and your action or behaviour of avoiding spiders. CBT helps by challenging and replacing your automatic thoughts, for example by replacing “I am scared and spiders will hurt me” to “Spiders are ok and are just small animals that run away when approached”.
When you get overwhelmed with your fears and phobias and you consciously scan your environment constantly for possible threats; a way to feel better is to reduce your general anxiety and stress. Generally, if your anxiety is high, perhaps because of other issues such work-related stress, relationship difficulties and low self-confidence, you can start to obsess about certain things. Your underlying anxiety is down to these issues, but it manifests most strongly in your fear of spiders or another phobia.
The benefits of reducing your anxiety will quieten your mind so you don’t obsess about things. By practicing deep breathing techniques, mindfulness, self-hypnosis, meditation and yoga you can achieve a calm and happier lifestyle.
If you have a spider phobia or any other fears that are making you unhappy, please contact me to discuss how cognitive behaviour therapy can help. Call 07967 151790 or email [email protected]