Before today, I had never heard of exposure exercises or exposure therapy, until I came across it while researching. Exposure therapy is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and is used for anxiety disorders. Basically it’s all about exposing the person who has anxiety/panic to whatever they fear so they can get used to the feeling/sensation and become comfortable with it.
I found most of the information about exposure therapy and exercises on Anxiety BC. They have a list of steps on how to do Exposure Exercises.
First of all, you make a list of things/objects that you fear. Then you build a “fear ladder” of things you fear from least scary to scariest. These can include different times, locations or even different levels of anxiety. Next you start facing those fears, beginning with the one that is least scariest. To face the fear, you have to engage with it. If you do it once everyday, you’ll start to feel less anxious every time you do it and in turn, more comfortable. Continue to keep practicing whenever you can and reward your brave behaviour as it’ll boost you to keep engaging with the fears. (You can read the entire PDF here)
Anxiety BC also list different exposure exercises for people who have panic disorder. Some of these exercises include:
- Running on the spot for 30 seconds to 1 minute (racing heart, breathlessness, chest discomfort)
- Rapid, deep, breathing for 30 seconds to 1 minute (dizziness, breathlessness, racing heart, numbness and tingling)
- Shaking head from side to side or moving head around by drawing a circle in front of you with your nose for 30 seconds (dizziness)
- Spinning around in place or spinning in a chair for 30 seconds (dizziness, nausea)
- Staring at your hand for 2 to 3 minutes (feelings of unreality – things looking and seeming weird)
Read the rest of the PDF here.
I think including these exposure exercises in the app would be beneficial to the users, as they will experience some of these symptoms when they are having a panic attack. If I am going to include them, I will have to think about the way they’ll be displayed as just text may be a bit boring.