A phobia is an overwhelming irrational fear of an object or a situation. Most people have at least one phobia that they simply choose to live with. Phobias don’t become a problem unless they interfere with your everyday life.
If you live in a small town where the biggest building is two stories tall, for instance, having an elevator phobia probably won’t cause you any unpleasant complications. Suppose, however, that you live in New York City and work on the 46th floor of a skyscraper? That makes a fear of elevators a more immediate problem, one that needs to be dealt with.
Fortunately, most phobias can be easily resolved using relaxation techniques to decrease anxiety and graded exposure to slowly get you used to being around the thing that you fear.
The first step in overcoming a phobia is learning to relax your body. Sit or lie in a comfortable position and, starting with your toes, tense and release each muscle group until all of your muscles are completely relaxed. If you have trouble achieving this state on your own, it may help to play soft music or sounds of nature in the background. There are also several CDs available that can guide you through the relaxation process.
Now that you know how to relax and let go of your anxiety, the next step is addressing the elevator phobia. Make a list of five situations involving elevators and number the list from the least threatening thought to the most threatening thought. For instance, being in a lobby with a bank of elevators might be least threatening. Actually riding an elevator up a floor or two might arouse more anxiety, and staying in the elevator all the way to the top of the building might be the most frightening thought.
Once you have your list, start with the first item, in this case walking into a lobby with a bank of elevators. You may feel your muscles tense; take time to consciously relax them. Do this for a few days until you are able to remain relaxed while looking at the elevators. Then move on to the next step on your list and so forth.
If you take your time and make sure you are able to remain completely calm through one task before going onto the next, you’ll soon find yourself able to enter an elevator without fear and ride it up to the floor where your office is located.