A fear of crowds can be awkward to deal with.
Whilst you can be sure that certain places will almost always attract a crowd (big sports matches, crowded commuter routes, that kind of thing), there are other times when a crowd can appear as if from nowhere. It’s at times like that where your fear of crowds can really come into its own and disrupt your way of life.
The problem is that our brain learns pretty fast when it wants to. Especially when irrational fears are concerned. And despite what you may think, a fear of crowds isn’t the most rational thing to possess. Most crowds are harmless most of the time.
But try telling that to your brain!
Chances are the flight part of your inbuilt “fight or flight” response mechanism has reared its ugly head before you get a chance to reason with it.
So just exactly how do you go about overcoming your fear of crowds?
If your fear is a mild one, it could be that you simply need to mix with small crowds and gradually adjust by gradually mixing with larger and larger crowds. Sometimes taking an understanding friend along with you can be idea – they’re with you as a comfort and can help you if your fear suddenly starts to become overwhelming.
But what do you need to do if your fear is bigger than that?
If your fear is holding you back, you have three options:
- Run away from it – move to somewhere rural and isolated for instance.
- Live with it and avoid crowds as much as possible whilst still having a life.
- Face your fear and deal with it.
When it comes down to it, fear is actually pretty cowardly. So the third option (facing your fear of crowds) isn’t actually as scary as it may seem.
Think back to the last time you got trapped in a crowd. Sure, it may not have been a pleasant experience for you. But after all the worry and cold sweats, think back. Did you come out of the event unscathed?
Assuming you did come out of your last crowd experience without harm, that’s a good start. You can work with that positive memory to start to train your mind to react differently next time you’re seemingly trapped in a crowd. Focus on your breathing – take long, deep breaths in and out.
Stay as calm as possible (this gets easier over time – make sure you’ve got help at hand the first few times you try it).
Gradually, you’ll start to reprogram your mind.
If you can, think back to a time when you were happy in a crowd. Maybe a childhood birthday party or maybe a time when you managed to get to the cinema and watch a great movie. If you can find this kind of time, re-live it. In your mind’s eye make the memory bigger, brighter, louder. This will help you to associate positive memories with crowds and will help you overcome your fear of crowds faster.