Healthy Ways to Reduce claustrophobia out in public spaces
If you suffer from claustrophobia, you will avoid confined spaces such as lifts, tube trains and public toilet, all three of which are public spaces. Avoiding such places may simply reinforce your fears. Going into them may give you a feeling or a fear of loss of control. If you do decide to enter them, what can you do to reduce your fear and anxiety?
When your symptoms materialise, your breathing may become short and you may start hyperventilating. Breathing exercises will help to slow your breathing down and help bring about feelings of calm and relaxation. Deep breathing may also help to prevent other symptoms from worsening. Practice such techniques at home so you are familiar with them the next time you go into a confined space.
If you need to go into a public situation which will be bad for your claustrophobia, it can be extremely helpful to go accompanied by a friend. Explain your fears and symptoms to them beforehand and try to come up with a strategy than can include recognising symptoms as they present themselves and being ready to leave a place or situation if it proves to be too much. Social support can go a long way in making you feel more relaxed and confident in public.
If you are concerned about being in a public space and are convinced the experience can only be negative, you may find visualisation helpful. To do this, close your eyes and picture yourself in different circumstances. You can use visualisation to create an image of yourself using your coping strategies to manage being in public places. By visualising success and overcoming your difficulties, you can make yourself more confident to face them in reality.
If you find yourself requiring professional support, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be useful for tackling a wide range of phobias. Whichever course of action you decide to take, remember to be kind to yourself and give yourself time to properly come to terms with the situation and overcome the difficulties.
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