Do you jump up on the sofa whenever you see a spider? Does the sight of these eight-legged creatures send chills down your spine? Do you dread that time of year when the spiders flock indoors to stay out of the cold?
Arachnophobia, or fear of spiders, is surprisingly common. It is one of the top ten phobias in the world, and between 3 and 15% of the population experience it. But there is very little need to be afraid. Although there are three species of poisonous spider in the US, you are very unlikely to come across them. You’re much more likely to be attacked by a dog or hit by a car, yet the sight of a labrador or a Chevrolet probably doesn’t fill you with dread.
There are theories that arachnophobia is an evolutionary trait that comes from our ancestors living in the wild, for whom poisonous spiders were a genuine threat. Seeing a spider sparked a fight-or-flight response which helped to keep them safe. That instinct has passed down to future generations, but it is no longer necessary. Of course, if your home is full of arachnids then you should call pest control, but the occasional eight-legged visitor is not a cause for concern.
So what can you do to get over your fear of spiders? Here are some tips to help you feel less afraid.
Learn about spiders
When you see a spider in your home or garden, all logic and rational thought disappears and you just want to kill it as soon as possible. But don’t be so hasty in your judgment. If you took the time to learn a bit more about spiders, you would discover that they are actually doing a lot of good. A spider in your home will get rid of flies and other insects that can be bothersome, and even the ones that can bite will never do so unless threatened. Consider reading articles or watching documentaries to learn more about these beautiful creatures and you may just change your opinion.
Face your fears
Gradual exposure is an effective way to get over any fear. Start small, by looking at pictures or videos of spiders, or even holding a toy one if that helps. The more you do this, the less uncomfortable you will feel. You can then step this up to visiting a spider exhibit in a zoo, where they are safely behind glass. Next time you see a spider in your home, rather than killing it straight away, try to tolerate being in the same room as it. The more time you spend around spiders, the less fear you will experience.
Consider seeking help
If you feel like you’ve tried everything but you just can’t get over your fear of spiders, another option is to seek professional help. Cognitive behavioral therapy is proven to be effective at alleviating fears and changing mindsets around spiders. It is a drastic step but if you feel like your arachnophobia is impacting your life then it might be the right solution for you.