A Daily Plan for Overcoming Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia narrows your world, literally and figuratively. People with agoraphobia avoid certain situations or places that may cause them to panic or feel trapped. This may include standing in line, driving on a bridge, being in open or enclosed spaces (like the movie theater), using public transportation or being outside the house alone.
There are gradients of agoraphobia. For some people the fear of being outside their home is so severe they become completely housebound. Others do venture outside but only to certain places they have to go, such as work. This still becomes a miserable experience, producing sweaty palms, racing heart rates, shallow breathing, chest pains and other symptoms of panic.
The good news is that this anxiety disorder is treatable. One of the best actions you can take is to contact a therapist who specializes in anxiety and panic disorder.
What also can help, according to Hal Mathew, in his book Unagoraphobic: Overcome Anxiety, Panic Attacks, And Agoraphobic for Good, is a structured daily routine. Mathew struggled with panic disorder and agoraphobia, and recovered 20 years ago. Since, he’s been leading support groups and recovery programs for individuals with agoraphobia.
Mathew provides a sample plan in his book, which breaks down a typical workday into hourly blocks. He suggests thinking of getting better as a job — the most important job you’ve ever had. Naturally, your plan will vary depending on how much time you have to devote to each activity. But this gives you a great example of what your daily routine can look like.
Hour One: Lots of Laughter
When you have agoraphobia, you may get up every day with a sense of dread, because your minutes are ruled by anxiety. That’s why Mathew suggests spending the first hour of your day laughing. He calls it comedy “endorphin therapy.”
According to Mathew, “You deserve and need a breakfast of laughs and merriment, and YouTube is your kitchen.” Check out videos of new and old comics, and watch TV shows you know will crack you up.
Hour Two: Sharing Joy
The second hour of your day is all about sharing joy with others. Mathew suggests compiling a list of people who’d benefit from a call or visit. You can contact your local senior citizen center, nursing home or church to see who might like to have someone to talk to. Also, start compiling inspirational quotes, jokes and stories to share.