Follow these hacks to help overcome this debilitating phobia and live a fuller life without anxiety.
We’ve all been there; you’re in an unfamiliar situation and suddenly you feel a sense of panic start to well up inside you. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but something about this unfamiliar environment makes you feel uneasy. Before you know it, the fear has taken over and you’re desperately trying to find a way out.
For some people, this feeling comes from being in confined spaces. Whether it’s being stuck in an elevator or on a packed train, for these individuals, any enclosed area can cause feelings of anxiety and panic.
A fear of confined spaces, also known as claustrophobia, is a relatively common phobia. It occurs when a person has an irrational fear of being in enclosed spaces. Claustrophobia can be mild or severe and can cause a person to feel panicked, anxious, or trapped.
Despite what others may say, fear of enclosed spaces is a real thing, and it can be debilitating for those who suffer from it. If you’re one of those people, or know someone who is, read below to discover three ways to help deal with the fear.
Where Does Fear of Confined Spaces Come From?
Multi-award-winning therapist Marisa Peer says: “FEAR can also stand for “false expectations appearing real,” and most fears are irrational. We are actually only born with two fears: the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. All other fears come from subconscious thoughts, and we acquire them over time—either from other people, things we have heard or watched, or experiences we have learned and picked up over time.”
Our minds are very clever; as children, our minds form an imprint about things we have experienced or learned, and we continue this imprint as adults without understanding its impact on us.
The NHS in the UK explains it like this:
“Claustrophobia is often caused by a traumatic event experienced during early childhood. For example, adults may develop claustrophobia if, as a child, they:
- were trapped or kept in a confined space
- were bullied or abused
- had a parent with claustrophobia”
For many, developing a fear of confined spaces can be pinpointed to an event in our lives, but for others, this fear can appear from nowhere and can leave us feeling perplexed.
There is always a root cause to our fears, but this may be buried deep in our subconscious. The good news is we can use different tools like the tips below to overcome this.
People experience all different levels of fear in confined spaces. For some people, this fear can stop them in their tracks and prevent them from participating in everyday activities. For others, this may be milder, but it can still impact their lives, for example, when getting on an airplane.
If you’re struggling with the fear of confined spaces, here are three tips that can help:
1. Practice Gradual Exposure
If stepping into a small closet scares you, start by exposing yourself to a slightly bigger space, such as a small room. It might be a bathroom, a large store cupboard, or even a large closet.
Try practicing opening and closing the door, and notice how you can gradually get a bit braver each time. You can repeatedly remind yourself that your fear and anxiety will pass.
Marisa Peer says, “We have to talk directly to our fears to overcome them. It might sound strange but address and look your fear right in the eye. Ask your fear, what is its job? Why is it here? What is its role? And is it required to be in your life anymore? Then, take a deep breath and tell your fear: ‘I know you are here to keep me safe, but everything is great, I am safe, and I have phenomenal coping skills.’”
As you keep practicing this, you’ll notice that you are stretching your capacity to be in an enclosed space. Remember to be kind to yourself; if it gets too much, just take small steps and try again when you are ready.
2. Learn Breathing Exercises
We supposedly take more than eight million breaths per year, so why is it sometimes so hard to get a deep one? We often forget to take a deep breath as our minds are wrapped up in what is happening around us. But deep breathing can be powerful and has so many wonderful benefits for our bodies and minds.
When you feel anxious or claustrophobic, take some deep breaths and focus on releasing the tension in your body. This can help to calm you down and allow you to think more clearly.
Health Publishing (the consumer health education division of Harvard Medical School) explains this further in their article about how breath control can help stress:
“The term ‘fight or flight’ is also known as the stress response. It’s what the body does as it prepares to confront or avoid danger. Breath focus is a common feature of several techniques that evoke the relaxation response. The first step is learning to breathe deeply. Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.
“Shallow breathing limits the diaphragm’s range of motion. The lowest part of the lungs doesn’t get a full share of oxygenated air. That can make you feel short of breath and anxious. Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange—that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.”
In short, deep breathing has amazing benefits for our nervous system, and at any time we begin to feel anxiety creeping up from being in a small space, we can tap into this super tool.
Start by inhaling deeply, filling your lower stomach up like a balloon, holding it for a couple of seconds, and then exhaling, relaxing the breath, and repeating this exercise.
Simply take a minute and check-in with yourself before starting a deep breathing exercise to see how you feel, and then compare it with how you feel afterward.
3. Try Self-Hypnosis to Completely Get Rid of the Root-Cause of the Fear
Did you know, most of our fears are so deep in our subconscious that we aren’t aware of what the driving force behind them is—no matter what we try and solve at the surface level?
This means that we continue to run over and over the same patterns and tend to get stuck in a rut, thinking that nothing else will work.
We have to remember that our minds are there to protect us, so whatever the experiences of small spaces we had as a child—and how we interpreted them—they were there to protect us at the time. These experiences turn into core beliefs and they continue to run into our adulthood—even if these are outdated beliefs and unwanted habits and behaviors.
Marisa Peer has created a powerful self-hypnosis, Overcome Your Fear of Confined Spaces, that addresses everything you need to help eliminate and alleviate this unwanted dread.
Imagine your mind is like an elastic band, continuously bouncing back to what it knows. Hypnosis breaks it completely. When you use self-hypnosis, your mind stretches, breaks the old behavior, and makes a new habit.
Hypnosis also gets extraordinary results because it works on our emotional state. Marisa explains that we have a conscious, “logical mind” and a subconscious, “feeling mind.” Our subconscious emotions and feelings will always defeat the logical part of our mind.
This is why the Overcome Your Fear of Confined Spaces self-hypnosis will help to reprogram your mind to tackle the fears and blocks that your logical (conscious) mind simply cannot reach.
Hypnosis works by investigating, interpreting, and installing new, better beliefs—and the great news is, we get to shape our future reality with the new beliefs we want to keep and eradicate the old beliefs we no longer need.
Self-hypnosis is where you induce a deep sense of relaxation in your mind and body. This allows your mind to be open and receptive to the positive suggestions you wish to give it.
Marisa Peer’s self-hypnosis audios are carefully crafted and created from her 30-plus years of experience working with clients, including celebrities, royalty, top athletes, and CEOs. Marisa’s recordings have been specially designed to help you overcome issues and imprint powerful changes in your life. If you have tried everything and want to finally let go of this block so it doesn’t control and define you anymore, try Overcome Your Fear of Confined Spaces today.