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3362 Big Pine Trail, Suite A, Champaign, Illinois 61822

Fear is one of the most powerful, controlling emotions that we can all relate to. Whether you're afraid of thunderstorms, the dentist, or losing a loved one, fear can control our everyday decisions and, ultimately, our lives. And naturally, we go out of our way to avoid the things we fear most.

But when the intensity of the fear turns into anxiety or a phobia, it becomes problematic. If you have a phobia, you may benefit from doing exposure therapy with a professional. Exposure therapy is based around a hierarchy of feared situations, starting from the easier, less stressful ones to the most challenging fears you can imagine. You start with the more approachable ones first, and over time, work your way up to the harder ones. Many people find comfort in knowing that there's a plan for working progressively through their fears.

Alongside working with an experienced therapist, here are 7 suggestions that can help you overcome your worst fears.

  1. Start small. Let yourself sit with your fear for a few minutes at a time.  Start with situations that are slightly challenging but manageable. For someone with a vomit phobia, that might include reading an article that mentions vomit or nausea. Over time the more complex situations appear more approachable. The goal is to deal with any situation that might reasonably arise, without excessive distress and without running away.

  2. Use humor. If you perceive your fear with humor, you trick your mind into looking at it differently. For example, if your worst fear is snakes, try verbalizing your fears in a funny voice. Or envision a ridiculous, worst-case scenario.

  3. Do it on purpose. Exposing ourselves to fear with purpose and making the conscious decision to engage your fears, rather than waiting for frightening things to happen to you. Anticipating and waiting for your fears to happen is a nerve-wracking way of tackling them. Intention and purpose give you more control and predictability, making the entire process more effective.

  4. Repeat. It's no doubt that a single exposure takes courage, but it's unlikely that it'll dismantle our fear entirely. Just like flying on a plane one time per year won't eliminate your fear of flying. To conquer your fear, you'd need to fly repeatedly and frequently. 

  5. Expect ups and downs. Some days will be better than others. Our reactions and progress depend on many factors, and it won't always be the same. Go easy on yourself through the ups and downs, and remember to find time to relax in the meantime.

  6. Record your progress. Try keeping a journal over a couple of weeks and recognize any patterns you notice. Do you start sweating every time your doorbell rings? Do you tend to feel more anxious in the morning or before bed? How do you react or respond to your fears when they arise? Note anything that seems significant. Transferring your fear patterns and symptoms into writing can help demystify them. They are no longer so substantial and insurmountable.

  7. Visualize. Often recommended for tackling fears, visualization asks you to imagine yourself in a situation confidently facing your fear, whatever it is. Try to be as detailed as possible. If you're afraid of taking tests, visualize what it would feel like to sit in your seat confidently, what your pencil would feel like, who's sitting next to you, and so on. Your mind doesn't know the difference between what's real and what's imagined, so you'll respond as if it were actually happening.

If you feel you need more support, working with a licensed therapist may be beneficial. They can help you better understand your fears, and guide you along the process of overcoming them.

In the U.S., 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men are victims of relationship abuse. If you're in an abusive relationship and are considering leaving, you need to take some time to think through how to protect yourself from additional harm. And while getting out of an abusive relationship isn't easy, you deserve to live free of fear.

Regardless of what your current situation looks like, safety planning is an essential part of the process. 

What is a safety plan?

Safety planning requires thoroughly thinking through potential scenarios and determining what the best course of action is. Overall, a good safety plan will hold all the important information you might need.

Here are a few things to consider when safety planning:

Reach out and let someone know you’re ending your relationship. Isolation is a tactic that many abusers use to have control over you. If your relationships with family members or friends have suffered because of this, it's essential that you still reach out. You may be surprised to learn how many of them want to help. This is one of the most important things you can do if you need somewhere to stay. Additionally, you can ask them to check in on you, if you can contact them if you need a ride or need help getting the police. Memorize their phone numbers if you can. 

If you don’t have anyone to tell, call a hotline. Tell them the same thing you would as if it were someone you know, they'll encourage and provide support along the way. Having resources available to you is a big part of safety planning. A few options include:

Keep your important documents safe. This includes your passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, insurance cards, bank account numbers, and other legal documents. It may be a good idea to keep them out of the house if you live with your abuser. If you feel that it’s unsafe to collect these items, make a few copies or take pictures of them.

Change your contact information. Depending on whether you need to remain in contact with this person, you may want to consider changing your phone number or blocking them on your phone. Also, it may be a good idea to change any passwords on your computer, phone, etc., if your partner has access to them.

Prepare an emergency fund. 

Financial abuse often plays a role in an abusive relationship, so set aside some money if you can. This can also include having your bank account or credit card if possible.  If it's not safe to keep the money in your home, ask a trusted family member to keep it for you. 

Get support. If possible, involve an expert to support you throughout the process. Remember that you’re not alone. There are people available to assist and guide you through this. 

You can find additional help and support from:  

Support groups: Being in an abusive relationship and making the decision to leave one can feel isolating and lonely. Support groups for victims of abuse can offer a therapeutic space for healing and an opportunity to connect with others who can relate and understand what you’re going through.

Therapy: Therapy can help if you’re currently in an abusive relationship, plan on leaving one, and help you start the healing process once you leave.

Emotional intelligence refers to a person's ability to understand, perceive, and control their own emotions and those around them. Some experts say that emotional intelligence can be equally, if not more important, than IQ. From your relationships to your goals, emotional intelligence ultimately plays a role in every aspect of your life. And while some believe it's characteristic that some are born with, research suggests that emotional intelligence can be learned and strengthened.

Components of emotional intelligence

EI was developed by John Salavoy and John Mayer, two social psychologists. Their work is responsible for the increased interest in emotional intelligence, from the workplace to the school curriculum. There are four levels of emotional intelligence, which include:

Self-awareness: The ability to recognize and understand emotions is a fundamental skill of EI. Aside from perceiving your own emotions, however, is being aware of the effect of your actions, moods, and feelings of others. This often includes awareness of nonverbal cues, like body language and the facial expressions people use. Although this comes more naturally to some people than others, you can take a few easy steps in improving your self-awareness. 

Start by monitoring your own emotions, recognizing different reactions to emotions, and identifying each emotion as it arises. You'll start to notice the relationship between your feeling and how you behave as a result.

Self-regulation: Once you become aware of your own emotions and the impact you have on other people, you'll need to learn how to regulate and control them. This doesn't mean putting your feelings on hold or suppressing them, but rather being able to express them at the right time and place. Emotional regulation is all about expressing them appropriately. 

If you know someone who can diffuse a tense situation or is good at managing conflict, they're probably good at regulating their emotions. They also tend to be conscious about how they influence other people, take responsibility for their actions, and adapt well to change. 

Practice being mindful of your thoughts and feelings in different situations, and find ways to cope with the uncomfortable ones. Soon, you’ll start to recognize the way your emotions help you determine your actions.

  1. Social skills: Having strong social skills allows you to build meaningful relationships and develop a more vital understanding of yourself and those around you. But, it involves a bit more than merely understanding emotions. You'll need to put the information to work in your daily interactions. Practicing essential social skills like active listening, asking open-ended questions, having good eye contact, or showing interest in others are excellent ways to improve this emotional intelligence area.

  2. Empathy: Or the ability to understand how people feel, is one of the most critical components of emotional intelligence. Aside from recognizing how someone else is feeling, empathy involves your response to people based on this information. How do you typically respond when a friend is feeling sad or hurt? In a professional setting, an empathetic manager understands the power dynamics in the workplace. This can positively influence their relationships with their employees, and they probably don't take advantage of their power. 

Improving your emotional intelligence isn’t always easy. It’s a skill that takes time to develop. But by practicing and implementing some of the tools mentioned, you’ll start to notice positive changes in the way you understand yourself and those around you.

You already know that exercise is excellent for your physical health. But how exactly does it tie to mental well-being? Regular exercise can help prevent mental health problems before they start and assist in maintaining existing ones. And although it seems like it's the last thing you want to do when you have depression, it can make a big difference once you get started. 

Here are a few ways exercise can help you fight depression: 

 

  1. Manage stress.  Exercise decreases stress hormones and increases your body feel-good' chemicals—naturally boosting your mood. Additionally, your relationship with stress changes. Those who exercise regularly are less affected and manage their stressors more healthily. It's a powerful way to release built-up physical and mental tension while reducing feelings of fear and worry.

  2. Social support. We all need a support system. Doing your favorite workout with a friend not only benefits your health but strengthens your relationships with others as well. On the other hand, some physical activities promote opportunities to meet new people. Even a friendly smile or a simple "hello" as you walk around your neighborhood can improve your mood.

  3. Improved cognition. The same "feel good" endorphins that are released when exercising are the ones that help you concentrate, focus, and feel mentally sharp.  Exercise also promotes the increase of new brain cells and counteracts age-related decline.

  4. Higher self-esteem. By meeting even the smallest exercise goals, you'll feel a sense of achievement and boost self-confidence. Regular activity can also make you feel better about your appearance.

  5. Better quality of sleep. Exercise impacts everyone differently. Some may find it helpful to do it right before bed, and some prefer to do it in the mornings. Regardless of when you choose to exercise, doing so regularly can improve your sleep patterns.

  6. Increased energy. It may seem like exercising will make you feel more tired, but raising your heart rate a few times a week will make you feel more energized. Start with 1-2 minutes per day, and increase as you go.

 

The challenge of getting started

Depression manifests as trouble sleeping, low energy, changes in appetite, fatigue, and low mood, which all result in less motivation to exercise. Although it's challenging to break this cycle, getting up and moving for a few minutes a day is helpful. Begin by setting small, realistic goals, and soon, a few minutes will quickly turn into 20, and so on. When your body starts to feel better, so will your mind.

While exercise is an essential component of your mental health, it is not a replacement for proper treatment. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, and if you have any mental health concerns, contact a mental health care provider. 

You already know that exercise is excellent for your physical health. But how exactly does it tie to mental well-being? Regular exercise can help prevent mental health problems before they start and assist in maintaining existing ones. And although it seems like it's the last thing you want to do when you have depression, it can make a big difference once you get started. 

 

Here are a few ways exercise can help you fight depression: 

 

  1. Manage stress.  Exercise decreases stress hormones and increases your body feel-good' chemicals—naturally boosting your mood. Additionally, your relationship with stress changes. Those who exercise regularly are less affected and manage their stressors more healthily. It's a powerful way to release built-up physical and mental tension while reducing feelings of fear and worry.

  2. Social support. We all need a support system. Doing your favorite workout with a friend not only benefits your health but strengthens your relationships with others as well. On the other hand, some physical activities promote opportunities to meet new people. Even a friendly smile or a simple "hello" as you walk around your neighborhood can improve your mood.

  3. Improved cognition. The same "feel good" endorphins that are released when exercising are the ones that help you concentrate, focus, and feel mentally sharp.  Exercise also promotes the increase of new brain cells and counteracts age-related decline.

  4. Higher self-esteem. By meeting even the smallest exercise goals, you'll feel a sense of achievement and boost self-confidence. Regular activity can also make you feel better about your appearance.

  5. Better quality of sleep. Exercise impacts everyone differently. Some may find it helpful to do it right before bed, and some prefer to do it in the mornings. Regardless of when you choose to exercise, doing so regularly can improve your sleep patterns.

  6. Increased energy. It may seem like exercising will make you feel more tired, but raising your heart rate a few times a week will make you feel more energized. Start with 1-2 minutes per day, and increase as you go.

The challenge of getting started

Depression manifests as trouble sleeping, low energy, changes in appetite, fatigue, and low mood, which all result in less motivation to exercise. Although it's challenging to break this cycle, getting up and moving for a few minutes a day is helpful. Begin by setting small, realistic goals, and soon, a few minutes will quickly turn into 20, and so on. When your body starts to feel better, so will your mind.

While exercise is an essential component of your mental health, it is not a replacement for proper treatment. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, and if you have any mental health concerns, contact a mental health care provider. 

About Insight Therapy

Insight Therapy is a professional mental health private practice located in Champaign - Urbana. Insight Therapy offers individual therapy, couples counseling, family counseling, and professional mediation services to clients of all ages and issues.

Contact Information

Insight Therapy, LLC
3362 Big Pine Trail
Suite A
Champaign, Illinois 61822

Phone: (217) 383-0151
Fax: (217) 633-4555

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Practice Areas

Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Addiction, Couples Counseling, Eating Disorders, Sexual Abuse Survivor, School Anxiety, Women's Issues, Relationship Issues, BiPolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, Family Issues, Couples Counseling, Mediation, and more!