Top 10 Ways to Overcome a Fear of Elevators

Many people are afraid of elevators. Some even turn down lucrative job offers because they entail going higher than the first floor in buildings where the stairs are closed for security reasons. Whatever the reason someone fears getting on an elevator, there are many ways to combat that fear. First and foremost is professional help. Whether someone needs a psychiatrist to prescribe medications to alleviate a mental-health condition or a clinical psychologist to discuss coping mechanisms in therapy sessions, this is the most effective way, for most people, to deal with such fear.


When it comes to self-applied methods of controlling one’s fear of elevators, it’s all about distraction. The idea is to concentrate on something else so the mind doesn’t have the opportunity to think about the fear. It might not always work, but it gives the elevator phobic a definite advantage. It’s a good idea to use all of the following suggestions in a rotating fashion so that the mind doesn’t get used to one particular method.


  1. Carry a book of crosswords and a pencil that you can take out when necessary. This will also help you break the ice with any other passengers on the elevator. “What’s a six-letter word for whatsit?” is an innocuous question that is unlikely to cause any problems.
  2. Wear a rubberband around your wrist and snap it. Not only will the tiny sting distract you, but you can also snap it in rhythm to your favorite song.
  3. Carry your keys in your pocket and try to determine which key is which only by feel. You can also do the same thing with coins.
  4. Choose a specific word length and circle all the words in a newspaper that are that long. You can combine this one with the crossword puzzle book for variety instead of using a newspaper.
  5. Jot down to-do lists or other lists that pique your interest, such as “top 10 baseball players of all time,” or similar.
  6. Count ceiling or floor tiles, or mentally estimate the size of each tile and do the math for figuring out the square footage of the floor or ceiling.
  7. Think up a girl’s name for every letter of the alphabet. Then, do the same thing with boy’s names if it’s a long ride.
  8. Try to read your newspaper or magazine upside down. It’s harder than you think.
  9. Carry a round hairbrush and flick the bristles while doing one of the mental activities on this list. If the fear gets worse, clutch the bristles and rotate the brush. The slight pain will certainly distract you.
  10. Play a game or text someone on your mobile device. If you’re alone on the elevator, call someone: Just being able to talk to someone can be a relief.


For people who are afraid of elevators, thankfully, even 100-story rides on modern elevators rarely take more than a minute. You’ll only have to distract yourself for a short while before the doors open and you’re on firm ground yet again.