How to overcome scuba diving fears and anxiety

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You’d love nothing more than to jump in and explore the ocean, which is the ideal place to escape from daily life. The only obstacle in your path is learning how to conquer your scuba diving phobia.

Fear may impede development and enjoyment in less dangerous settings, despite the fact that it is normal and serves to keep us safe. You could not have attempted scuba because you’re afraid of the ocean, or you might be having trouble finishing your Padi Open Water Diver course because of scuba diving anxiety.
In either case, don’t panic; here’s how to conquer a scuba diving phobia. Before you can say “thalassophobia,” you’ll have received your certification and be prepared to Live Unfiltered!
Two divers aboard a boat studying how to overcome their fear of the water and thalassophobia in preparation for a dive.

Why is scuba diving scary?

Asking yourself “Why do I have this fear of scuba diving?” or “Why do I panic when scuba diving?” is the first step in overcoming a phobia of scuba diving. When answering these questions, try to be as specific as you can since you need to know precisely what it is that you are afraid of in order to discover the most effective strategy to get over it.

What is the fear of diving called?

The fear of scuba diving doesn’t have a single name, but there are several phobias that are connected to it, including claustrophobia (a fear of small places), bathophobia (the fear of depths), and even submechanophobia (a fear of submerged items). Other phobias are related to dive techniques, like as cleaning a mask or jumping from a boat.

Thalassophobia vs. Aquaphobia

Thalassophobia, a severe phobia of huge and/or deep bodies of water like oceans, seas, and lakes, is perhaps the phobia that is most similar to scuba diving. Aquaphobia is a more extensive fear of water, which includes baths or drinking.

1. Learn the facts

Fears might worsen in an uncertain world. If you investigate the facts behind what frightens you and ask plenty of questions, you’ll usually find that it’s far less dangerous than you initially believed. Numerous beliefs regarding scuba diving and marine life have been debunked through study. Eliminating fear will be made easier by dispelling the falsehoods.
Sharks, for instance, are a major source of fear (galeophobia). It’s crucial to acknowledge that since the 1980s’ Jaws films, sharks have received negative coverage from Hollywood. Putting everything into perspective and lessening your anxiety of scuba diving with sharks may be accomplished by realizing that most sharks are harmless and that many commonplace things are more harmful.

2. Get Enough Rest and Relax

By meditating and being attentive, you shift your attention from your inner thoughts and concerns to what is going on around you. The body and mind are physiologically relaxed by deep breathing. Use relaxation techniques before your dive (to create a peaceful, pleasant frame of mind) or during your dive (to restore composure during any times of worry) when learning how to overcome a phobia of scuba diving.
Surprisingly exhausting activities include scuba diving. The oxygen tanks are fairly heavy on land, there is a lot of equipment to deal with, It could take some getting used to equalizing. Like any physical exercise, it is important to prepare by getting adequate sleep and energy.

3. Think happy thoughts

The secret to overcome any fear is positive thinking:
  • Try making a list of the positive things you could encounter rather than worrying about what might go wrong.
  • Face your bad ideas head-on.
  • Put more emphasis on what you want to do than on what you shouldn’t.
  • Remind yourself that you can accomplish it by thinking back to a moment when you overcome another fear.
  • Using coping phrases may help you feel better.
  • Try seeing yourself in a secure area or your happy place by employing visualization methods.
  • Instead of considering your dive to be the final thing you do, look forward and consider the good things you will do following your dive.

4. Prepare yourself

Before diving, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water or fruit juice, and have a good night’s sleep. Caffeine and alcohol aggressively dehydrate you, so avoid these. Arrive on promptly and don appropriate exposure protection. If you’re drained, chilly, hungry, or pressed for time, your anxieties will seem more overwhelming.

5. Face your fear

Exposure therapy, in particular systematic desensitization, is a common phobia treatment. The lesser steps you must take to accomplish your objective are listed on a “fear ladder.” you’ll encounter each one one at a time, only progressing to the next level when you’re at ease.
For instance, if you have an ichthyophobia (fear of fish), you can start by seeing fish images before moving on to fish films. A trip to the beach or an aquarium may come next, and so on, until you’re swimming with actual fish. Visualization and virtual scuba diving are also helpful in this process. It’s crucial to start gently and avoid overstressing oneself, which might exacerbate the issue. Consult a specialist if you’re unsure.

6. Visualize

Positive thinking, exposure treatment, and meditation all complement visualization.
If mask clearance is your worst enemy, see yourself completing each step with ease. Or envision how you will feel once your PADI training is complete.
Studies have proven that you may deceive your brain into thinking there is nothing to be afraid of by mentally acting out situations in which you pretend to overcome your phobia.

7. Remember your ‘why’ and Your Inspiration

Reminding yourself of the benefits of being certified and how diving may alter you will certainly inspire you to get over your scuba phobia. These benefits can include achieving an underwater photography objective, protecting the environment, or simply being free to Live Unfiltered.
Always keep in mind that you desire this. You want to feel liberated when under, witness the vividly colorful fish, swim over mountains of coral, move as though you were flying, rediscover space during night dives, or get pumped at swimming with sharks! Keep in mind that you have this option. Everything takes time, but once you master it, the experience will be thrilling and addictive. Before your dive, be motivated by either looking at photographs or viewing some scuba films. It will energize you, make you feel relaxed, and serve as a reminder of why doing this is such a fantastic idea.

8. Know your limits.

While a little excitement or challenge might be beneficial, peer pressure or pushing yourself over your comfort zone can result in failures or even accidents. Long term, this will simply make people’s anxieties worse. Stick to tiny steps instead. Your anxieties should naturally go if you progressively and securely build up your confidence.
Never hesitate to cancel a dive if you don’t feel up to it.
A helpful diversion for a way is a scuba diver helping his friend put on his wetsuit. Ways to overcome anxiety when scuba diving

9. Talk about it

Choose a better Instructor


There are several scuba diving schools all around the world, and each one provides a unique learning environment. Visit the diving facility and introduce yourself to your instructor before your dive. Do not be reluctant to speak with him or her and express your worries.
It’s quite unusual for instructors to genuinely want to throw you into the deep end and let you cope with what’s going on around you, but the majority of them are really supportive. Your concerns are probably nothing new to scuba instructors. Asking to practice beforehand in calmer waters or perhaps taking a private lesson may be another option if you’re still feeling uneasy.
Speak up about your fear and face it. Make sure your PADI Instructor is aware of your phobia of scuba diving first. They can modify their training methods to help you overcome your scuba diving phobia at a speed that seems natural to you. Additionally, they may refute any myths behind your anxieties thanks to their extensive ocean expertise.
Describe your fears to your teacher in detail, including those related to depth, water in your mask, or just feeling restricted by your equipment.
Also tell your friend. If you have an ebulliophobia fear of them, for instance, they won’t unintentionally worry you by blowing bubbles at you. In addition, they may offer their own stories and advice to help you feel more at ease if you come across anything threatening.
Before going diving, every student will have a buddy, according to any respectable scuba diving school. It’s a crucial safety process so that diving groups may collaborate with one another.
Along with the dive instructor, choose a companion who has more experience than you; diving in a group may make you feel more at ease and allow you to meet new people with whom you can share your diving experiences later.
Another strategy is to provide a hand to someone else. Help them put on their wetsuit, help them name a fish they’ve never seen before, or go over pre-dive checks together. You may avoid your own worries by concentrating on others’ needs!

10. Treat SCUBA as a Privilege

Many people think that we don’t belong in the water so deep. It makes sense that it could feel unfamiliar to you because we are humans and belong on the surface.
Consider this an opportunity to experiment and try something new, though. Consider yourself an intrepid diver, just like in the movies. Scuba diving is a fantastic activity that may also be a really amazing hobby or employment. The majority of individuals in the world will never dive underwater, let alone overcome their phobias to do so. Your time and experience are being used.
If you’re still uneasy, know that you can enroll in a variety of PADI scuba diving programs at a number of recognized schools to help you feel more at ease with the ins and outs of scuba diving. Scuba diving all around the world is an incredible experience, whether you’re diving with marine life, discovering shipwrecks, or just enjoying the open ocean.

11. Complete a buoyancy check.

The proper buoyancy makes a significant impact to the diving experience. Weights may be changed to achieve neutral buoyancy, which will assist your dive and enormously reduce anxiety, by performing a buoyancy check.
By breathing, you can control buoyancy. You may travel through the water columns by taking long, steady breaths in and out. You may relax by taking long, deep breaths. To avoid the temptation of controlling your buoyancy with your hands, try to keep them clasped in front of you. An extra benefit is that you will feel and look like a “scuba diver,” which can lessen nervousness.

12. Use your own scuba gear

Use your own scuba diving equipment whenever feasible. When diving, this will help remove some doubt. Early on, I invested in my own diving equipment, which I think was a wise decision. It adds a little extra heft to your suitcase, but it’s worth it. Every time I’ve rented equipment, buoyancy has been one of my biggest anxiety triggers. I prefer to know that my diving mask won’t leak, that my fins are cozy, and that I can control my BCD.
I usually dive with trustworthy dive operators, but I still value the extra security of knowing that my diving gear is in good condition.
Fins, a computer, a BCD, and a regulator would be my next top priorities after a great-fitting mask. Additionally, if necessary, prescription masks are offered. I believe I will soon arrive there.

13. Exercise in Calm Waters

See whether you can get into the sea by strolling in from the shore or practicing in a swimming pool before leaping in from the back of a boat. This is a good method to become accustomed to the scuba diving experience and is probably how you’ll begin if you’re taking an Open Water diver course.

14. Learn the fundamental hand signals.

Since you clearly cannot communicate verbally underwater, there are several standard hand signals used when diving. Before diving, make sure you are familiar with the most crucial signals: okay, not okay, up/end the dive, down, slow down, halt, and low on oxygen.
If you happen to forget a few of these, it won’t matter as long as you remember the most crucial ones.

15. Dive Frequently

You’ll become more adept at controlling your scuba diving fear as you put these advice and techniques into practice. Liveaboards are a fantastic technique to calm diving nervousness. Pick a diving site that is simple to access. Confidence is increased by diving three or four times a day in the same environment with other experienced divers. You may practice your buoyancy, descents, and ascents by using the mooring line. I adore liveaboards because all you need to worry about is eating, sleeping, and diving. They frequently include a guide who may also assist you in honing your abilities.
You may have a close relationship with nature via diving. Always keep in mind how fortunate we are to be able to dive in our lakes, seas, and other magnificent places. Every time you dive, carry a sense of thankfulness with you, and take pleasure in the experience—it is truly a privilege.

16. Take Regular, Slow Breaths

Most people don’t give their breathing much thought throughout the day, but while you’re underwater, you can hear it and are using a respirator to do it, which at first may seem strange. Simply go cautiously and breathe deeply and gently. You may also utilize a full-face diving mask, which will enable you to breathe simultaneously via your mouth and nose.

17. Identify the Best Way to Equalize

Even the most experienced scuba divers might have significant difficulties due to ear problems. As you dive deeper, your ears need to equalize to balance the pressure from the outside by opening up the lower ends of your Eustachian tubes and allow air to enter the cavity of your ears. You may equalize using a variety of methods, including squeezing your nose, swallowing, and pumping air up your throat. Find the best technique for you; it could be challenging at first.

18. Get professional Instructor

If the aforementioned fails, think about seeking expert assistance. Ergo-therapy and adaptive techniques help divers overcome both mental and physical obstacles, while Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy are frequently used to treat fears.


How to overcome scuba diving fears and anxiety
The last piece of advice we have for overcoming the fear of scuba diving? Scuba dive!
Your anxieties intensify as you ignore them more. Instead, the ability to Live Unfiltered through scuba diving encourages a positive state of mind, which in turn gives you the confidence to face your concerns head-on.

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