A fear of confined spaces or claustrophobia is defined as an irrational fear of confined spaces and rooms that don’t have a clear and easy escape route.
A phobia can be caused by a particular experience or situation where you are faced with your fear. Due to this initial reaction – the second time you face your fear, you may experience the same irrational feelings of terror – if this forms a pattern it is a phobia.
The key to getting over or overcoming a phobia is to face it, otherwise it may get worse over time. People usually deal with phobias by avoiding them but this can prevent you from doing certain activities which you may want to do and from living your life in general.
One of the best treatments for phobias is exposure therapy, which you can easily do yourself through self-help.
Self-Help for Claustrophobia (Fear of Confined Spaces)
Facing your fear of confined spaces is key to conquering it.
You can help yourself through exposure therapy – but make sure to begin with something you can cope with/handle – exposure therapy may not work if you start with something too scary.
Follow my step-by-step approach for claustrophobia below:
- Step 1: Get on a bus that is not crowded – at a quiet time of the day – stay on for a couple of stops – remind yourself that you are safe and are in control. It can also help to do something to distract yourself from your fear that may soothe you – such as listening to relaxing music.
- Step 2: Get on a bus that is more crowded at a busy time of the day e.g. rush hour – stay on for a couple of stops – remind yourself that you are safe and in control. Remember not to push yourself too far, exposure yourself to your fear gradually – if 3 stops feels like too much for you, just do 1 stop at first – and so on.
- Step 3: Get on a lift and go down or up 1 floor – when you feel more comfortable you can stay on for longer – remind yourself that you are safe and in control. Remember that an overcrowded elevator cannot fall – it is supported by multiple steel cables (all strong enough to support a car on their own) – if it is overcrowded it will stay stationary and a bell will ring until some people get off – it will not fall.
- Step 4: Go on a crowded tube at rush hour or fly on an airplane if you eventually feel comfortable enough to do so.
If these steps don’t work for you, or if they are not specific enough for you, make your own step-by-step approach – if you need any help, please feel free to leave a comment below.