Agoraphobia is a debilitating condition that affects the way people live their daily lives. If you experience extreme anxiety, fear, and panic attacks at the thought of leaving your home or being in crowded spaces, there is a chance that you have agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia: Some tips on how to cope with it
Agoraphobia will affect everyone differently. Some people may still be able to leave their homes for a short amount of time, whereas other people may avoid leaving the house altogether. This can often feel like the ‘safer’ alternative. But in reality, it creates a toxic narrative.
There is evidence to suggest that the pandemic has increased anxiety and fear in many individuals. For those with preexisting anxiety disorders, the fear of contracting and passing on the virus could be adding fuel to the fire. Leaving them confined to their homes for long periods of time.
We know that being outdoors can decrease anxiety, stress and depression. So it’s important to find a healthy balance for the sake of our mental health.
If, like myself, you are struggling with agoraphobia, then consider using these tips to cope with the condition.
1. Don’t underestimate the power of talking
You shouldn’t try and cope with agoraphobia alone. Talk to your friends or family about how you’re feeling and suggest some ways that they can help. If you are feeling overwhelmed at the idea of being in busy and crowded places, then you may feel more comfortable leaving the house with a friend.
Being with someone who feels familiar will make the situation feel less strange, which can be a step in the right direction. If your condition is severe, you should not hesitate to speak to your doctor, who may provide an antidepressant. If possible, you can arrange an appointment with a therapist who can help you to get to the root cause of your fear.
2. Set small achievements
Nobody expects you to be able to do everything all at once. It’s absolutely fine if it takes you weeks or months to build up to meeting a friend or going for a coffee. The people in your life will understand and support you, no matter what. Take it slowly to begin with by going for a 2 minute walk.
Sometimes, it helps to have a destination in mind. This could be your nearest post box or bus stop, whatever it is, put your full attention on reaching that place. Try to erase all other thoughts in your head because they don’t affect this current goal. Once you reach it, head back home and try it again in a day or two, but this time adjust the time slightly to 4 or 5 minutes. If you keep doing this, you will soon be able to make progress.
3. Don’t call setbacks failures
Agoraphobia can be an ongoing condition that’s influenced by news and statistics. It’s okay if you have a setback. It doesn’t make you a failure and it doesn’t mean that you’ve undone all of your progress. It just means that you need to take it easy for a while and try again when you are mentally in the right place. There will be hurdles along the way, but things will become easier the more you do them. Like most things, it just takes time.