People are born with fears. One of the most common fears is the fear of heights. The first thing you need to do is to define and understand your fear. The fear of heights is also known as acrophobia. The name came from two Greek words, “acron” which means heights and “phobos” which means fear. The fear of heights or acrophobia is common evolutionary trait where people avoid going through steep places to make sure of their survival. Today, acrophobia can be in a mild form like scared of riding a roller coaster or a ferris wheel and avoid looking down from tall buildings and high balconies. People with this fear usually feel dizzy or may feel butterflies in the stomach.
Approximately 1 out 20 people is affected by acrophobia. Since it affects so many people, it should not be taken lightly. Fear of heights must be surmounted. Follow the 10 tips to get through your acrophobia and live a happier and adventurous life.
How to Overcome Fear of Heights
Visualize and Look Past the Fear
In many situations, the fear of heights is totally unfounded. Look at the situation clearly and try to calm yourself. See the reasons for not falling such as the handrail, the tough glass window or the stairs and focus on what will stop you from not falling from height.
Prepare Yourself for the Exposure
Prepare yourself and think how you are going to deal through the experience of exposure to heights. Many individuals find that the fear of heights can be handled more easily with preparation in advance.
Expose Yourself to Your Fear
Visualize and gradually expose yourself to your fear of heights. According to Helpguide.org, you must use the “fear ladder”. The fear ladder is where you take simple and gradual steps to make yourself aware and accept your acrophobia. Challenge yourself to greater heights gradually and before you know it, you’ll no longer have acrophobia.
Go Slowly in Confronting Your Fear
Overcoming fear of heights doesn’t happen overnight. Confront your fear slowly at your own pace. Researchers said “flooding” is not recommended anymore as it worsens the fear. “Flooding” refers to the act of doing something extreme in relation to your fear like bungee jumping or cliff diving.
Forget Terrible Past Experiences
Your fear may be triggered by past experiences. If you had an accident related to falling when you were young, it may be the cause of your fear of heights. Some people with fear of heights also have difficulty looking back on past, painful accidents. One of the best ways to overcome your fear of heights is to acknowledge your past by focusing on the reality. If the terrible accident or traumatic experience had caused your acrophobia, it may be time to seek professional help.
Talk To Your Friend and Family
How to overcome fear of heights? Sometimes it takes another person to give your confidence a leg-up. Someone whose advice you can trust. Or else, someone whose abilities you can rely on. Like a family member who’ve been hiking on mountains or an adventurous friend traveling around the countryside. It is great to open up your fear to someone; it may be the first step in conquering your fear.
Calm Your Mind with Positive Thoughts
Challenge yourself and your mind whenever negative thoughts arise. The fear may be associated with loss of body parts or death. When you’re about to take on the “challenge” of gradually exposing yourself to your fear, think positive and tell yourself that it will be fun.
Try Out Therapy
There are milder types of acrophobia which can be treated by simple self-awareness and relaxation techniques. However, there are worse ones that affect the daily activities of a person. According to research, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most popular and most effective method to treat diagnosed debilitating acrophobia.
Find a therapist to know how to overcome fear of heights. If you are thinking of hiring a therapist, he or she should have accreditation and experience. It is also best to opt for one referred by your family physician or a former patient who received his or her treatment from them.
Do Physical Exercises and Relaxation Techniques
This is very useful in situations wherein you are actually in a “panic” state. Options include meditation and deep breathing techniques for overcoming overwhelming feelings of panic. Progressive Muscle Relaxation can be done by following the video below to conquer your anxiety and fear:
Remove Stimulants such as Caffeine from Your Diet
Stimulants such as energy drinks, caffeine and foods having high sugar increase the feelings of fear and anxiety; hence, try to avoid them and it will decrease your fear.
Ask for Medication
Common medications used for people with acrophobias are Benzodiazepines, Antidepressants (SSRI and SNRI) and Beta Blockers. These medications can only be taken after consulting a medical doctor because they can produce harmful side effects.
There are cases where acrophobias can be caused by physiological problems like vestibular or visual disorders. Consult a physician. Medications for vestibular and visual disorders that cause acrophobia are also available.
Follow the tips on how to overcome fear of heights for best result. But don’t tough it out, seek help if you must. It is not a good idea to take acrophobia lightly especially if life and work gets affected by the condition.