Have you ever experienced dizziness and trembling when you looked down from a high-rise building, a bridge, a transparent elevator? Fear of heights, or acrophobia, canly in th vary considerabe severity of symptoms — from abdominal discomfort to panic attacks. Read on to find out what it is and how to overcome it.
What is acrophobia?
Fear of heights is familiar to at least one person in twenty. For most people, it is expressed in a mild form, for example, in fear of riding on the Ferris wheel, being at the edge of a cliff, or on a ski slope. But there is also an extreme form of this phobia when people hate rides, do not want to go to the mountains, flatly refuse to climb up the stairs, the escalator, move along the bridge, enter the high-rise building and fly in an airplane. At this time, they feel that their very existence is at stake.
Experts believe that acrophobia lies in us from birth to ensure survival, so most are afraid of falling from a height at the level of instincts. Among the symptoms of phobia are the following:
- physical: dizziness, excessive sweating, muscle tension, tremor, rapid heartbeat, stomach cramps, nausea, and headache;
- psychological: panic, anxiety, fear, and thoughts about death.
In severe syndrome, these symptoms may occur even when a person tries to stand on a chair.
Approaches to treating fear of heights
There are several techniques that have been well studied to help people overcome their fear of heights. As a rule, they include various ways of relaxation, hypnotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy in an adult, successfully used in psychology. If we talk about this in more detail, then:
- Try to explore relaxation techniques: meditation, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, which are the antidote to fear, panic, and anxiety. By the way, they allow you to effectively deal with other types of stress, which is already enough in our daily life.
- Try cognitive behavioral therapy to better understand your fear. Find out the cause of panic attacks, and then you can defy negative thoughts and learn how to control them.
Useful tips for overcoming anxiety
In many cases, the fear of falling from a height is completely unjustified:
- Try to calm down and look at the situation more clearly. Just pay attention to why you do not fall: there are handrails, railings, barriers, belts, strong stairs and durable glass in the windows. Concentrate on what really stops you from falling.
- Try to relax. Remind yourself how unlikely it is that something bad will happen at the moment.
- Breathe deeply. Try to push negative thoughts out of your head and replace them with a positive statement that you will not fall, you are completely safe. When people are confronted with situations that cause anxiety, they often forget to breathe, and this only worsens the symptoms. Focus on a deep breath and exhale, it is very soothing.
- View photos or videos with climbers.
- Prepare to conquer fear in advance. Think about how you will deal with it step by step. Close your eyes and visualize the situation, understand that it does not pose any threat to your safety. Preparation can begin with a simple peek out of the ground floor window. So, gradually, you can get used to the feeling that you are above ground level.
- Confront fear slowly, at your own pace. This item smoothly follows from the previous one. Do only what you feel comfortable to set small goals for yourself: if you want to reach the edge of the balcony, start at the entrance to the balcony, and then slowly move a little closer to the edge each day.
- Remove stimulant foods from your diet: caffeine, energy drinks, and high sugar foods. This should help you get rid of a strong sense of fear of heights.
- Translate your level of fear into numbers. Think: if the absolute horror is 10, and complete calm – 1, then where am I now on this scale? Suppose you are at the 8th mark, then try to extend the exhale and imagine how this figure goes down. So you normalize your pulse and become calmer.
- Do not recall the past, focus on the current reality. The phobia could have arisen due to an event from your past life: perhaps you have already fallen in childhood. Do not think about it, erase the negative from memory.
- Trust the close people who understand you. Tell a friend about your obsessive thoughts before heights; ask for help to overcome them. In fact, millions of people have already overcome panic fear of heights, and you too can do it! If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, take a look at other people nearby. Ask yourself: if they do not fall, then why me?
- If you cannot cope with the problem yourself, consult a specialist – a qualified psychotherapist. There should be no shame that you are unable to fight acrophobia.
Do not let the fear of heights control you, try all the tricks and show patience to achieve a good result. And who knows, maybe soon you’ll love bungee jumping just like thousands of daredevils around the world!