Breaking the Frozen Shackles: Overcoming Pagophobia, the Icy Grip of Fear
During the hot summer days, a refreshing glass of iced tea or iced coffee is just what you need to make the heat tolerable. But you’d instead not add ice to your beverage so as not to break a cold sweat.
And then, upon attending a party and seeing a beautiful ice sculpture as one of the centerpieces, you suddenly have that unexplainable urge to leave, even when you were having a grand time minutes ago. Even a free ticket to watch Disney on Ice is a no-no for you.
Can you relate to these two circumstances and share that uneasy feeling? If you do, and the common denominator among all these situations is the presence of ice, there’s a possibility that you have a phobia of ice.
Living with this fear can catch you off-guard, impact social relationships, and make you live less. The good news is that you are not alone, and your fear of ice is valid. There’s a long irrational fear list, and regardless of your fear, it can be gripping, so you have to summon the will to overcome and manage your anxiety.
Like most phobias, one of the primary pagophobia causes is often a traumatic experience. This can be as simple as slipping on the ice while ice skating or more severe, like falling through the ice when you were just a child.
You may have also cultivated that fear from witnessing a loved one’s distressing encounter with ice.
It can also be a learned behavior where, for instance, you’ve always been cautioned to be careful with ice and the possibility of it cracking and you going under, especially if you live near lakes that get frozen during winter. Your cautiousness has unconsciously developed into a fear, associating ice with negative concepts like getting hurt and dying.
As a result, you perceive any form of ice as a threat and something that can negatively impact you, thus fearing it without reason.
Everything You Need To Know About Pagophobia
Ice makes you uncomfortable, anxious, and stressed, and you can finally put a name to what you are feeling. So, what is the fear of ice called? It’s pagophobia.
Having a name to call it makes it more real, and this specific phobia can branch into other terms, given that ice can take so many forms. Ice can be formed in bodies of water when the temperature drops, and the ice layering may be thick and thin depending on certain factors.
Ice may also form in sleet, snow, frost, and hail—all natural ice forms. Pagophobia can sometimes go hand in hand with Chionophobia, or the fear of snow, and Grandophobia, the fear of hail, but the common denominator among these fears is ice.
People who have pagophobia, depending on the severity of their fear, may even keep away from your typical ice cubes, meaning they won’t store or make ice cubes in their refrigerators and always have ice-free beverages. Additionally, these folks may avoid ice skating rinks and avoid watching sports like figure skating, curling, and ice hockey.
This irrational fear can be overwhelming, and the people around you may not understand you. Once you feel that dread and panic at the sight of ice, all reason gets forgotten.
You become so overwhelmed with that unexplainable fear that your primary focus is to get away from the object that elicits your fear—ice in its many forms. Only if you are far away will your heartbeat slow down and your composure return.
Symptoms Of Pagophobia
The symptoms of this irrational fear of ice share the same indicators as other phobias. And depending on the level of your attack, you may experience one to several symptoms at a time.
Pagophobia symptoms are unique to every person. The triggers are also different because one can get anxious when seeing an ice cube tray. At the same time, another individual with pagophobia has to be within a few meters of an actual ice sculpture before panic sets in.
Overall, the symptoms of this phobia can be classified as physical and psychological, and here are some indications under each category:
- Excessive sweating
- Dry mouth
- Hot flashes
- Rapid heartbeat
- Upset stomach
- Loss of logic
- Morbid thoughts
- A nagging feeling of getting hurt
- Overly emotional
With both symptoms nagging you and putting your emotions and thoughts all over the place, the experience can be tiring, unpleasant, and overwhelming.
How Do You Deal With Pagophobia?
People who have pagophobia know, at a certain level, that they don’t have to be afraid of ice. Unfortunately, their fear gets the better of them, leading them to act, decide, and feel indifferent.
But despite the irrationality, the fear is valid and should be taken with utmost consideration, with one of the primary goals being to manage and overcome it—in time.
Knowing that you are not alone and that others share your fear is comforting. But what offers hope is that there are plenty of viable pagophobia treatment options that you can consider—from managing it on your own to getting professional help.
Self-Help: Thawing The Ice On Your Own
You may be surprised at your commitment once you decide to go head-to-head against your phobia. There are plenty of practical ways to handle your fear by yourself—here are some.
1. Acknowledge The Fear
Being in denial and pretending that your anxiety is normal will not allow you to overcome this fear. Instead, accept that ice can make you cold with dread and sweat in stress. Yes, once you have acknowledged that you have pagophobia, the next thing on your mind would be to manage the fear.
2. Learn As Much As Possible About It
As clichéd as it may sound, knowledge is power, and knowing as much information about your phobia as possible can make you more confident in managing it. You can create a list of ice forms that make you break into a sweat and trigger your panic attacks. Be honest, and note how you react and behave at the sight of ice.
3. Try Some Relaxation Techniques
Research the benefits of yoga and meditation, and learn about breathing techniques you can use anytime, anywhere. This is your first defense if you feel like a panic attack is about to kick in. This is when you assure yourself that no amount of ice cubes can control or hurt you.
Getting Professional Help To Manage Your Fear of Ice
Enlisting the expertise and experience of a professional is also a direction you can head in to manage your pagophobia better. Note, though, that just because you have a professional working with you, it doesn’t mean that you can make things right overnight.
Managing and overcoming your fear of ice is not an overnight process, and you need to invest a huge chunk of your time and effort to see signs of progress.
What professionals can provide you with are viable options and methodologies of treatment. It can be one form of a treatment or combining several at a time, but having someone to provide you with guidance and support can make all the difference you need.
Here are some common therapies that your doctor may discuss with you:
● Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT aims to make you more confident in your feelings, thoughts, and reactions when faced with any form of ice. It helps ensure you are not overwhelmed with your fear.
● Exposure Therapy
As the name suggests, you’ll be gradually exposed to ice and its many forms in phases. It may start with you just being shown a picture of ice and go to the point where you finally interact with ice cubes or stand on an actual ice rink.
● Use Of Medications
There’s also the possibility that your doctor may prescribe you beta-blockers and even sedatives, but only when deemed necessary.
Learning To Live With Pagophobia
Self-help and professional treatments are not a one-size-fits-all approach. Managing your fear is complex, and there may be many setbacks. But with a determined mindset and a solid support system, you can adapt to facing the source of your fear and start living a life with confidence.
Start thawing the ice, and you’d soon realize that ice is not something to be afraid of and can even be a source of fun and entertainment. But while trying to manage your pagophobia, be kind to yourself and take things one day at a time. You’ll get to the point where you won’t be bothered by ice any longer.