I remember the first time someone asked for my help in overcoming their fear of hospitals.
We were standing outside the front entrance to the hospital, and my friend was in obvious distress. He told me he was fighting nausea and a panic attack just thinking about walking inside the hospital. My friend’s extreme fear of hospitals is called Nosocomephobia.
You might not suffer from a fear of hospitals, but most people would admit to being more concerned about visiting a hospital than they were before the Covid 19 pandemic. One clear evidence of this is the rising number of Google Searches concerning whether it is safe to visit a hospital.
As a care minister, I have helped numerous people to navigate their fears of hospitals, including my friend I mentioned earlier. I believe I can help you as well. As a bonus, these principles can help you overcome other phobias you may experience as well.
Let me show you what I mean.
How my fear of heights might help you Manage your fear of hospitals.
Although I do not fear hospitals, I do suffer from acrophobia, a fear of heights. According to the research, it is the third most common phobia, with almost 5% suffering from this phobia.
Living in the state of Texas, I rarely encounter mountains. Tall buildings don’t affect me unless I go to the top and intentionally lean out to enjoy the view. But there are times when I have to drive up steep gravity-defying highway entrance and exit ramps. I admit they are not my favorite, but I have learned to manage them.
A few years ago, we traveled to Chicago for a much-needed vacation. My wife planned the trip and had a list of forty must-see attractions. So naturally, we decided to see them all.
Unfortunately, there were three items on the list that I knew I would struggle with: the flight into the city, the 150 ft Ferris wheel in Navy Pier Park, and the 360 Chicago Observation Deck located on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center.
Recently, I read an article on Scotland’s National Health information website that lists ten ways to fight your fears. They suggest taking a time out, breathing through the panic, facing your fear head-on, imagining the worst, looking at the facts (evidence), not pursuing perfection, visualizing a happy place, talking about it, returning to basics, and rewarding yourself.
Looking back on my Chicago trip, I can identify six principles that I applied to my fear of heights.
First, I imagined the worst-case scenario and how likely it was to occur. The plane I was on could crash, the Ferris Wheel and Observation Deck could collapse, and I could fall to my death.
Second, I considered whether my fear was factual or emotional. I knew that thousands of people traveled by airplane, rode the Ferris Wheel, and walked out onto the Observation Deck every day.
Third, I considered the risk and the reward and determined that I would face my fears head-on.
Fourth, I took several deep breaths on the flight and forced myself to take in the view.
Fifth, on the Ferris Wheel, my wife talked me through the experience. Her smile was more spectacular than the view; it reminded me of why I made the trip.
At the 360 Observation Deck, I struggled. My feet were rooted to the floor, and people were staring at me, waiting for me to move.
Sixth, I almost gave up until I adjusted my expectations. I had envisioned this as a moment of triumph with cheers and flashing lights.
Instead, I settled for sheepishly turning around, facing my wife, and slowly but steadily backpedaling onto the observation deck.
Finally, I determined that the experience didn’t have to be perfect; I didn’t even have to enjoy it. I just needed to complete the task.
When I finally looked around, I couldn’t stop laughing at the sight of a tennis court and two swimming pools on the top floors of nearby buildings. Looking back, I cannot imagine a trip to Chicago that did not include these three attractions.
My Friends Managed His Fear of Hospitals by applying these same principles listed above.
As my friend and I waited outside the hospital, we talked about the worst-case scenario and whether he wanted to be there for his family if something happened.
Many individuals passed us and entered the hospital; doctors, patients, relatives, food sellers, and those who wanted to exercise in an air-conditioned environment.
We talked about how most of the people who came in sick would depart in better shape than when they arrived. Then, we focused on how the number of doctors, medical staff, and vendors dwarfed the number of patients by a significant margin.
My friend considered the risk and the reward and determined that he would face his fears head-on. He took several deep breaths and stepped through the doors. He understood that he would never have a perfect visit to the hospital and would always be on edge by the experience, but he managed his fear and was there for his family.
Applying these principles can help you manage your fears of hospitals or any other fear. Would you consider sharing this article with someone who is struggling with fear?