Do you have a fear of heights but still want to explore nature? Then you need to manage your acrophobia.
Inbuilt fear of heights is a survival tool and an instinct. But this healthy and normal instinct turns into a ‘phobia’ for people who experience an exaggerated fear. Those people miss out on many fun activities and experiences because they freeze up because of their fear of heights.
But acrophobia is manageable and treatable, so don’t let it ruin your hike or other height-related fun activities.
Here are 12 tips to help you overcome your acrophobia and make your hiking more enjoyable.
1. Put a Leash on Your Mind
It’s very important to beat your demons because the root of this fear is all in your mind. If you continuously overthink, panic, and worry that you will fall or slip, it will eliminate your rationality, and you can never overcome acrophobia.
To deal with it, you should try yoga or meditation, as they effectively calm your mind while allowing you to stay present in the moment.
Sometimes, you just need a little motivation or push to put your worry aside and overcome your fear. You can get inspiration from hikers, friends, and even the best travel quotes.
2. Exposure to Heights
The Cure for Your Fear of Heights? More Heights!
You can conquer your fear of heights by deliberately putting yourself in fear-inducing situations. Gradually level up your exposure to fear. ‘Gradually’ means that you can begin with indoor climbing or a trek up a somewhat steep hill.
While you’ll initially experience nervousness, once you’ve finished, you’ll feel fantastic and realize that it wasn’t that risky. Over time, you can gradually gain the confidence necessary to hike at higher altitudes.
3. Enlist an Instructor
Hiring a qualified instructor whose advice and skills you trust is one of the best ways to keep your fear in check. Being with someone who inspires self-assurance in your capabilities makes a big impact.
Many of us have overcome many challenges and completed given tasks that we thought were impossible to accomplish in the first place. But the thing is, sometimes we only need a push from another person who boosts our confidence. A professional instructor does that for you.
4. Communicate with Other Hikers
When you communicate with other hikers, you may encounter more people who are also suffering from acrophobia and trying to overcome it. Don’t worry; nobody is going to judge you.
If you are lucky, you may meet people who have overcome their height phobia. They have the experience that can help you. So meeting other hikers is always a good idea!
5. Bring a Hiking-Partner
Acrophobic frequently engage in negative self-talk. Positive reinforcement from a friend can reduce it. If you are afraid of heights, then try to bring a companion when you are going hiking.
Your friends’ encouragement and support will help you achieve your hiking goals. And if your friend has hiking experience, that’s a bonus because their knowledge will relieve you.
And another plus point is, they can help you carry things and navigate the mountains.
6. Be Confident and Trust Your Equipment
If you don’t have perfect and adequate equipment for your hiking, your phobia will amplify.
So it’s worth investing in stable hiking gear, proper shoes, and right backpacks to reduce accidents.
Additionally, ensure that you have done your planning right and are mentally and physically prepared for hiking. Be confident and remember to take weather conditions into account.
7. Try Breathing Exercises
The fear of heights is usually fueled by anxiety. However, with the help of many simple yet effective breathing techniques, you can regain your composure and get through challenges that keep you from reaching the summit.
Meditation, yoga, and sophrology breathing exercises can help reduce stress in daily life and trekking. During your hike, avoid breathing very quickly. Instead, breathe deeply and slow down your breathing.
8. Get Therapies
For acrophobia, there are many specialized therapies available. Among them, cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT) are best known. You should seek help from the experts.
The basic idea is to gradually face your fear to regain control and calm your mind. With the help of an experienced therapist, you can slowly but surely conquer your fear of heights and go hiking and exploring nature as much as you want.
9. Practice, Practice, and Practice
You can become accustomed to height, steepness, and exposure through practice. The more time you spend navigating terrain at a high altitude, the better you will be able to handle the physical and mental challenges it poses.
Once you get used to how the rock feels under your feet and hand and put trust into your body and balance, your mental confidence will come naturally.
So, practice will make you perfect as always.
10. Never Look Down
‘Never look down,’ I guess you have already heard this mantra. Being acrophobic, during hiking, if you look back or down to see how high you have reached, this will make you feel dizzy, lose your balance, freeze up, and eventually fall or slip.
So instead of looking down, focus your sight on a fixed point of the distance.
11. Never Try to Look Cool When You are Not
Forget your ego and cry for help in the most frightening situations. And if necessary, walk on your hands and knees. Don’t worry; you won’t be a subject of ridicule, and even if people make fun of you, it’s far better than a severe fall or slip.
However, don’t cling to your hiking partner, who may lose balance, causing you both to fall. Instead, confidently use poles to steady yourself on steep slopes.
Overcoming your fear is a slow and steady process. You may not see the result immediately, but the more you practice, the better you can manage and control your fear.
So if you are determined to put in the effort, you will certainly conquer your acrophobia. Then go and enjoy popular multi-day hikes and do all the height-related fun activities as much as you want.