How to overcome scuba diver panic and anxiety — best tips for fresh divers
Everyone is joking, having fun and excitedly preparing for a dive and you feel this dull pain in the pit of your stomach. You adjust the mask on your face for the hundredth time and sigh. Ok, let’s do it. I wonder what will go wrong this time.
I know the feeling. I’ve been there.
If you suffer from anxiety during scuba diving it’s about time we change it, so you could enjoy this amazing activity as you’re supposed to.
I’m not promising you miracle solutions here. You will have to work on yourself. But those tips worked for me and many other anxious fresh divers. I don’t see the reason why they shouldn’t work for you.
Let’s check out what can we do about your scuba diver panic and anxiety.
Practice Mindful Breathing
It’s undeniable that breathing is the key to safe and enjoyable diving. From the very first scuba dive experience instructors repeat — keep breathing slow and calm – this way you won’t panic.
But what if it doesn’t come naturally? Can you actually learn how to breath correctly?
YES! Your can practice and master calm and relaxing breathing.
Search internet for breathing exercise that will suit your style.
I like to practice yoga, as it develops not only breathing skills, but also flexibility and agility, that are helpful in scuba diving.
If yoga is not your thing, find other mindful breathing or conscious breathing exercises. You will be surprised what difference few minutes of practice per day can make. Not only in scuba diving, but keeping calm and in control in your everyday life.
That was a big problem for me on the very beginning of my scuba diving path. Thinking what could go wrong and unpacking all possible scenarios in my head.
Anticipating imaginary problems and concentrating your mind around them hardly helps fighting scuba diver panic and anxiety.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should be oblivious to possible dangers while scuba diving. The whole scuba training is based on what to do if something goes wrong.
All I’m saying is that reliving all potential dangers in your head before and during a dive is not the best idea.
Trust your training, check your equipment and gauges often enough, but don’t put all tragedy scenarios on auto repeat in your mind. Try to relax and think of what you can see instead of what can go wrong.
Get a distraction
This may not work for everybody. This is a tip for those who already established skills as a diver, but their confidence is still not there.
That was me when I had 40–60 dives.
After I bought an underwater camera and started taking photos I became calmer during dives. My problem with anxiety came from overthinking, so getting a distraction helped me focus on something fun instead of tragedy scenario in my head.
If camera doesn’t work for you take a mesh bag and collect trash that you may find underwater. Or observe and note down fish types. Or try whatever interesting, safe occupation you can think of that can help you relax.
Warning — this will not work if your skills are missing.
Talk to others
Now, I know that it’s intimidating to confess your fears to others, especially more experienced divers, but this may be really helpful. Don’t worry
Remember everyone started at some point. Whether it’s your instructor, or your buddy that got you into diving they may have some valuable insight. There’s a good chance that they had the problem with scuba diving panic and anxiety while diving as well.
I am writing this post, because I had this problem.
Most divers like to talk about their adventures and experience. They may share some great tips with you.
Additionally you will no longer be alone with your anxiety. It will take that burden from your heart and you will immediately feel better.
Plan your next dives to stay super close to each other. Ask more experienced diver to pay extra attention to you underwater. It should calm you down and help relax.
Get more training
– What? I don’t feel confident enough where I am with my diving and you want me to take another course?
That’s precisely why I encourage you to take another course.
I feel that many instructors focus on how additional training allows you to go deeper and participate in more difficult dives. What I like to emphasize is that additional training adds to your self confidence.
Nobody will force you to go deep and dive in strong current after you took your Advanced Open Water Diver Course.
What this course will give you however is ability to concentrate on other tasks rather than just basic diving skills.
It will help with your buoyancy which always makes you more confident.
It will show you how it feels to dive deeper, so that shallower depths will no longer seem challenging.
ALWAYS Dive Within Your Training and Comfort Zone
This is very important rule and a no brainer.
Nothing increases anxiety and your chance of panic in diving like disregarding your limits and comfort. If you have a friend who tells you: come on don’t be a wimp, go deeper with us, nothing will happen. Think twice if this person really is a friend.
Exceeding your limits certainly doesn’t help with reducing fear of diving.
On the contrary, it may lead to incidents that will only deepen your fears.
Find out what exactly is the problem
Investigate a little into your mind and try to find out what is it that you are anxious about. After pinning the problem down you may be able to find an easy solution.
If it is sharks or other scary underwater creatures — read about them, watch documentaries, learn enough to put your mind in peace. Or simply go diving somewhere where they are not present.
Very common reason of scuba diver panic and anxiety is lack of confidence in your skills. For many fresh divers clearing mask is number one problematic skill. Address this issue, so you could go past it and enjoy diving without fear.
Keep on diving
Diving is one of those activities — the more you do it the better it gets (and you get better at it). Follow additional tips below and keep on diving. You will surely notice you enjoy it more and more each time.
- find a diving buddy you trust and the one that will take good care of you
- dive easy dive sites until you feel confident enough and want to stretch yourself a little
- practice things you are not certain of — read this post about How to Master Clearing Scuba Mask. The more confidence you have in your skills the less anxiety!
- if something is ‘fishy’ about the dive, somebody is pushing you too far or you don’t feel ok — don’t be ashamed to cancel.
Remember your thoughts are powerful. Stay positive and concentrate on what you like about scuba diving.
There are many ways how to overcome scuba diving panic and anxiety, and I hope one of the solutions I proposed will prove effective for you.
If you have questions about what you read or you want to share your story of overcoming scuba diver panic feel free to use comment section. We would love to hear from you.
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