Excessive Fear of Plants
Do you hate going to parks or gardens? Have you ever refused to enter a room that had a plant in it? Does the thought of being in the countryside or forest, surrounded by looming trees, give you the jitters?
Do you go out of your way to avoid stepping on grass or touching leaves? Are you a devoted carnivore because you can’t stand the idea of touching a vegetable, much less eating it?
If you check all of the above, you might test positive for Botanophobia or the phobia of plants.
You might find yourself confused as to how this phobia comes into play and how it affects you. After all, why would anyone be afraid of a harmless houseplant? But just because it is in your head doesn’t make it any less real.
What Is Botanophobia?
Botanophobia is the phobia of plants. It comes in the form of extreme anxiety in the presence of shrubs, trees, and other greenery. This phobia is quite complex compared to others as people are afraid of plants for various reasons.
This phobia may arise from superstitions. Ancient tales about the existence of demons, witches, or any form of evil in the form of plants and trees as quite widely showcased in movies. Some may have heard of carnivorous plants like the Venus flytrap and imaging that getting hurt by them. These stories strike fear in the minds of many.
Plant phobias could be associated with a variety of issues, the first and most obvious being trauma from a past event. These could be feelings of loss of someone from a plant-caused injury or condition. Others develop this phobia because of allergic reactions to poison ivy or plant-based food. Some experts think that it is a result of specific genetic composition and brain chemistry.
Symptoms of Botanophobia
The symptoms of Botanophobia differ from person to person. This phobia can cause several physical and psychological effects. Here are some of the visible signs that a person has an irrational fear of plants.
● Hot flashes or chills
● Elevated heart rate
● Dry Mouth
● High blood pressure
● Panic attacks
● Shame or self-blame
● Mood swings
● Fear of illness
● Obsessive thoughts
For many people, this phobia can be triggered by a single glimpse of greenery. The thought of entering the woods or walking across a grassy field may cause a full-blown panic attack. It could also cause strains in personal relationships and interactions. Hence, it must be addressed.
Some refuse to eat vegetables because they are afraid they will fall sick. This last symptom is especially harmful since it could affect your health. You need to eat plants to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
There is no universal treatment applicable in the treatment of every phobia. However, there are quite a few tried and tested methods that help cope with the fear.
Self-Help Methods to Cope With Botanophobia
Change starts with the self. Before consulting a professional, be sure to do all you can to help yourself face your fears. Botanophobia, like all other phobias, is mental. The brain can alter its thoughts and beliefs when faced with a new train of thought. For this change in the train of thought to occur, you must first start manifesting that change is possible and that you are going to be just fine.
This method makes use of tools available to you to communicate and reinforce subconscious messages. It involves three techniques:
1. Emotional Intensity
Any sort of emotion is a sensory response of the brain’s interpretations. Cognitive therapy dictates that every emotion is accompanied by a certain level of belief. This is why everything you believe in affects your emotions. To increase your emotional intensity, listen to music that matches the intensity of the future you are visualizing.
2. Picture and Description
Imagery is a strong means of retaining information. For example, if you think about how much you crave ice cream for dessert, and if you start to imagine the flavor you’d pick, your urge to order some ice cream would increase tenfold. Creating detailed representations of what you want to achieve helps push you to work towards it.
To overcome your phobia, it helps to create an accurate visual simulation of the situation you wish to overcome. This involves exposing yourself to the situation you fear and altering your response. This technique makes you aware of what works for you and what doesn’t and helps to power through your fear.
Deep Breathing and Meditation
Do these in the comfort of your home to calm your senses without the use of any performance drugs. About 10 minutes of meditation each morning can help start your day right. A set of fixed routine breathing exercises also come in handy in times of stress, anxiety, and other phobia-inducing situations.
Getting Professional Help
People with Botanophobia tend to avoid getting treatment because they believe that if they master the art of avoiding the phobia well enough, it would just go away. Also, they don’t want to face the object of their fears.
However, self-coping mechanisms may not work for everyone. If that’s the case, it’s time to call in the experts. They will recommend the appropriate treatment tailored to you. You must do your research when exploring methods of professional treatment.
Therapy is the first course of action advised in the treatment of phobias. Antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and beta-blocker drugs taken under the guidance of a certified healthcare professional focus on suppressing the symptoms and providing temporary relief.
Treatments like hypnotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, general desensitization, dialectical behavior therapy, drug therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and neurolinguistic programming are popular with respect to Botanophobia.
All of these treatments focus on tracking the root of the phobia and tracing its route in your subconscious. They aim at erasing all traces of anxiety and fear once and for all. In particular, gradual desensitization is a technique that focuses on progress through exposition to physical stimulus. You might be asked to touch plants and leave until you can control your fear.
How to Cope With Botanophobia
All of these methods don’t always guarantee success. They will meet you halfway by helping you control your thoughts and reactions, but the other half-mile is all you. One of the best ways of overcoming any situation in life is to prioritize and take care of yourself.
Everyone is scared of something, from serious threats to seemingly ordinary things. Avoiding your fears and putting them off will do you no good. Don’t let your fears control you. You can and you will get through your phobia.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs a little pick me up along the way sometimes. Your friends and family will always be there to support you.
Even Sigmund Freud, the father of psychiatry, suffered from a form of Botanophobia. He had a terror of ferns. So while it may take some time, practice these tips to overcome your fear of plants. You will be out and about in the depths of nature before you know it! And you may be shocked to discover that you have a green thumb.