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Self-help - Phobias

Each phobia is different and no single self-help programme will work for everyone. You may decide to use your own self-help strategy or get help from a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist.

A self-help programme could include:

Lifestyle changes

Making some simple changes to your lifestyle may help reduce the symptoms of a phobia, such as panic attacks.

This could include:

  • regular exercise
  • eating regular, healthy meals
  • getting enough sleep
  • reducing or avoiding caffeine and other stimulants

Exposure therapy (desensitisation)

Exposure therapy involves gradually increasing the length of time you're exposed to your phobia.

For example, if you have agoraphobia, a fear of open spaces and public places, you might start by going outside your house for a very short period of time, before gradually increasing the length of time you spend outside and the distance you travel from your house.

Exposure therapy can be a very effective way of enabling you to cope with your anxiety.

Other self-help techniques

Other self-help techniques include:

  • relaxation techniques – a series of physical exercises that help you relax and control your breathing
  • visualisation – combines relaxation and breathing techniques with mentally visualising how you'll successfully deal with a situation that could cause anxiety
  • self-help groups – a useful way of meeting others with similar experiences and sharing ways of coping

Read more about relaxation tips to relieve stress and dealing with panic attacks.

Page last reviewed: 27 July 2022
Next review due: 27 July 2025