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Backpacker Magazine – September 2008

Never Fear: The Fix

Conquer any fear with this DIY guide to applying a proven treatment plan called cognitive- behavioral therapy. Think of it as training for the mind.

by: Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Photo illustration by Stephen Beneski
Photo illustration by Stephen Beneski

The Moment of Truth

Don’t let the scariest scenarios on your fear hierarchy become paralyzing. Here’s how to handle the most frightening steps on the ladder.

  • Prepare yourself Expect to be scared. Anticipate the way your body will feel, then remind yourself that it’s okay—the fear will pass.
  • Ditch the crutches Sedatives, a shot of whiskey, carrying a big stick in case you meet a bear—these things might calm your nerves temporarily, but they’re just Band-Aid solutions.
  • Go ahead and freak Don’t try to force yourself to relax. To truly overcome, you have to learn that feeling scared doesn’t mean you’re in real danger.
  • Don’t forget to breathe Close your eyes, exhale slowly, and hold your breath for a moment. Inhale through your nose. Repeat 15 times. This slows your heart rate and prevents hyperventilation.
  • Focus on the moment Pay attention to your body and your immediate surroundings. When you concentrate on what’s really happening—raindrops pounding your tent, the ledge you’re standing on—you stop obsessing about the worst-case scenario.

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