Can Indoor Skydiving Help You Overcome Your Fear of Heights?
At one time or another, each of us has probably felt the stirrings of anxiety. The stomach-churning, chest-tightening, room-shrinking, and heart-pounding reaction when confronted with a fear or situation that is perceived as a threat. Unfortunately, many struggle with these feelings daily and wonder if overcoming anxiety is even a viable option. Thankfully, it is! There are many ways to begin to acclimate and condition yourself to deal with your fears.
So many times at Paraclete XP, we hear that someone would like to try skydiving but cannot because they have a fear of heights. While a skydive may be too jarring of a first step, the wind tunnel is a near perfect solution to overcome a fear of heights. No true “fear of heights cure” exists, but indoor skydiving does a pretty good job easing the anxiety of those who have a fear of heights, fear of falling, or skydiving anxiety.
Even if you choose not to tackle your fears with indoor skydiving, we want you to know:
You are not alone.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, data indicates that nearly 40 million people (that is a whopping 18% of the population) experience an anxiety disorder. While the data gathered by the World Health Organization reveal that 1 in 13 people GLOBALLY suffer from anxiety. One of the most common anxiety disorders? Specific phobias i.e. fear of heights or fear of falling. The numbers don’t lie, and we want you to know—there’s no need to feel as if your fear of heights or fear of falling is an isolated occurrence.
So, what can you do about overcoming anxiety? Here is what we recommend.
1. Baby Steps
Be kind to yourself and start small. Even with little steps, large journeys can be completed.
Studies have shown consistent small-scale exposure to the feared situation can be helpful in overcoming anxiety of certain types. By beginning with a situation that is less scary, you can ease yourself into situations that cause you discomfort and later work up to facing situations that cause you to experience a great deal of anxiety. Ultimately, a situation that causes only slight anxiety is more manageable. You get to avoid feeling overwhelmed and feel like you have a chance at successfully overcoming anxiety.
2. Take it slow!
When it comes to overcoming anxiety, there is no need to rush into anything. Keep the pace suited to you.
Say you have a fear of heights or a fear of falling, a great start would be visiting the wind tunnel. As you watch the smiles and enjoyment the other customers have with indoor skydiving, your tension will begin to ease. After a few visits, try scheduling a bit of tunnel time for yourself. Sign up for a few minutes in the beginning. Incrementally, add more time. Pretty soon, you may find you love the flying feeling and end up with hours of tunnel time!
Word to the wise: avoid “jumping right into it” or the “throw yourself in the water and learn to swim method.” The highest success rate is found to be a slow, incremental introduction to your fear.
3. Use a Controlled Environment.
Overcoming anxiety is easiest in a controlled environment. Anxiety and surprises are pretty well set in opposition to each other. When things feel out of your hands, it’s almost impossible to feel secure. In the wind tunnel, you are assisted by professional tunnel instructors, the variables are minimized, and you can feel a bit more in control. Plus, by consistently engaging in the activity in a controlled setting, you are able to limit outside factors, which means less opportunity for surprise and less stress for you. In indoor skydiving, there is you, the skilled instructor, and the wind—that’s it.
4. Build Your Confidence
The longer you face something the more you are able to get used to it and the less anxiety you will experience when you face the fear again. Slowly increase the duration with which you face your fear. Be sure to reward yourself and use positive self-talk for each success you have. In this way, you can build confidence. When it comes to overcoming anxiety, whether it be a fear of heights, fear of falling, or general skydiving anxiety, building confidence is key!
1, 2, 3, 4. We wish you success with this and much more.
Following these steps can help lead you to successfully overcoming anxiety. There is no fear of heights cure, but you can certainly get close to conquering a fear or heights or fear of falling by scheduling to experience the feeling of freefall in the comfort of the indoor skydiving tunnel today!
Will Skydiving Help You Overcome Your Fear of Heights?
It’s pretty common that first-time tandem skydivers come to the dropzone with a goal in mind: to finally conquer their fear of heights. These brave souls figure that making that jump is going to blow that nagging nervousness out of the water, once and for all. Seems logical, right?
The thing is: it won’t. but it will actually do much more for you.
Here are three things you need to know about your fear of heights in the context of skydiving. They’re going to surprise you!
1. You Didn’t Develop Your Fear Of Heights. You Were Born With It.
Unless you are a biological anomaly, you’re afraid of heights. That’s for a very good reason.
While most fears are indeed learned–like spiders, or clowns, or haggis–we as humans have at least a couple of fears that come standard. These are built into our brains from the very start to protect us. One of these is–you guessed it–the fear of heights or acrophobia.
Check out this classic study, done many years ago. In the study, a baby was placed on one of two tables, set up a few feet from each other, with a big piece of clear plexiglass covering the gap. The plexiglass was thick and wide enough to easily allow the baby to crawl from opaque table to opaque table. Guess what? They didn’t. Almost every baby was, like, NOPE.
Why? Because a baby doesn’t know what plexiglass is, and it looked like an attempted crawl-across would result in a fall. Kittens wouldn’t cross it, either. But ducklings? No problem. (Takeaway: wings seem to help a lot with the whole acrophobia thing.)
2. Your Fear Of Heights Doesn’t Really Come Into Play On A Skydive.
From the exit altitude, the world below you doesn’t look like it does from the edge of a cliff or a bridge or a building. It looks a lot like a map, actually–because the triggering sense of depth is removed. Fear of heights doesn’t really engage in the airplane; the stimulation comes instead from the new environment; the new sounds; the new sensations.
3. This Isn’t Really About Your Fear Of Heights, Anyway.
Afraid of heights? You’re not alone. A very large proportion of skydivers (and BASE jumpers, too!) are technically very actively “afraid of heights”–and they don’t mind. Why? Because every time they make a jump, they’re improving confidence, creating a healthier perspective on obstacles in life and sharing landmark moments with close friends.
Doesn’t that sound better than just being a little less specifically afraid?
We think so, and we encourage you to find out. View more information on tandem skydiving at Skydive Finger Lakes or contact a member of our team with any questions you have.
Should You Go Skydiving If You’re Scared of Heights?
Many people don’t think they can skydive because they’re afraid of heights. We’re here to tell you that–as weird as it may sound–fear of heights doesn’t matter a bit on a skydive.
If you’re, like, that’s impossible, then calm down, Wiggum. It’s true! It might surprise you that being on a ladder will always feel more precarious than being in the door of a plane. It might also surprise you that skydiving will do nothing to directly cure your fear of heights–though it will help you address all kinds of fears, albeit in a systemic sense. If you’re ready to enter the weird and wonderful mystery house of skydiving and fear, we’re happy to take you on that journey. Just follow our lead.
1. Confirmed: It’s Not Maybelline. You Were Born With It.
Snakes? Circus clowns? Zombies? Presidential candidates? Make no mistake, my friend: those are after-market fears. However, literally, every healthy human being was born with a fear of heights. It’s basic to our makeup. Whereas every other fear (except, interestingly, the dark) was added on afterward, we come out of the womb freaked out about high places. It’s called acrophobia, and the struggle is as natural as breathing. Evolution decided that dark and heights are the two things that humans need to be careful around from day one, hour one of our lives.
How do we know? Because of this classic acrophobia study. In it, scientists perched brand-new crawlers on top of one of two tables. These tables were set up a couple of feet from each other, with a sheet of crystal-clear plexiglass to form a table-wide bridge between them.
The baby’s mom was standing on the other side of the opposite table, encouraging baby to make his/her way across into her waiting arms. Even though the plexi was more than thick and wide enough crawl across, none of the babies were into it. Even that early on in their lives, with no previous experience of the feeling, their little brains already ordered them to stop. Baby ducks, however, didn’t even compute the difference between walking across an opaque solid object and a clear solid object. (Wings, therefore, are apparently the only scientific cure for a fear of heights.)
2. Making A Skydive Is A Lot Like Making That Crawl.
Here’s the thing: jumping out of a plane is a lot like taking your place on one table and making your way across the plexiglass. Statistically speaking, even though it doesn’t feel like it when you’re standing in the door, you’re going to be just fine. With that first hesitant step, you’ll literally feel the support under you. And when you land, you’ll look back and think: Wow. That was way easier than I thought it would be. …I wonder what else in my life I’ve been unnecessarily hesitant about?
3. The Fear Isn’t What You Think It’s Going To Be.
Think you’re going to freak out and freeze up? If you’re like most folks, no matter how scared you think you’re going to be, you’re not.
You see: From the open door of an aircraft cruising along at 12,500’ above the Southern California skies, the landscape below looks pivotally different than it does from that aforementioned bridge or cliff or building. In actual fact, it looks much like a Google Earth map. Since it’s the sense of depth that triggers acrophobia, and depth doesn’t exist from that angle, your fear of heights is going to remain essentially untriggered.
Make no mistake, however: you’re going to have feels. The sounds and sensations of putting on gear and going to altitude are very powerful!
4. It’s Going To Stay With You–As A Help Rather Than A Hindrance.
Guess what? That fear of heights, which was carefully built into the structure of your brain, isn’t going anywhere. And that’s a good thing!
If you start talking to skydivers, you’ll notice that many of them are very keenly “afraid of heights.” These are the guys who can’t comfortably stand at a low bridge railing, who hesitate (or refrain) from walking close to the edge of any cliff, who even think twice before venturing up to the observation deck.
The difference is that the height-spooked skydiver is using their fear as a tool for personal optimization. Every time they walk to the aircraft door, they know that they’re up-leveling their confidence, optimizing their physical response to fear and building healthier perspectives on life’s daily challenges. Add all that up, and you’ll see the massive proportional benefits they’re reaping from their fear of heights.
So–how does all that strike you? Are you ready to strengthen your fear muscle and use it to move your personal mountains? We’re standing by to help! Book a tandem skydive near Los Angeles with the experienced team at Skydive Perris.