Dealing With Fear

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Everyone has a fear of something; mine is exposing my nose underwater. I know how to swim but I’m not a water baby. I don’t like water in my face and whenever I get into water I won’t stay in it for very long. However my fear is actually about drowning, for some odd reason I think when water gets up my nose that is me starting to drown! Where this fear has come from I have no idea but I knew with my scuba diving training my fear and strength would be put to the test. In scuba diving there are certain tasks that have to be completed, for example clearing a half flooded mask, clearing a full flooded mask, removing your mask and swimming without a mask. This may seem pretty straight forward for most people but when I put my face in water, water gets up my nose and I start to panic. This results in removing myself from the situation straight away.

Two weeks ago was my second lesson of scuba diving. I completed all the tasks and then the dreaded one arrived- removing my mask for a minute underwater. My teacher saw my fear because the bubbles coming out of my regulator (my mouth piece) doubled. He calmed me down and I started to flood my mask, coughing turned into a panic. I sprung straight up to the surface and then calmed down ready to do it again. The second time I tried, the same thing happened. This time I sprung onto my feet and my breathing was all over the place, not to mention I started to cry. Due to my fear my body panicked and went into flight mode. I didn’t complete the task and I didn’t enjoy the rest of the lesson. On my drive home I was angry with myself. When it comes to problems I deal with them very well but this time I didn’t. I was so upset that I cried because I was looking forward to this part of my stunt training but with a fear like this how could I carry on?

After a pep talk from a loved one I got my confidence back and went to the pool a few times to practice holding my breath underwater. With scuba diving the number one rule is to never hold your breath. So I practiced holding my breath to start with then I practiced the rhythm of water going in my mouth and then out again. This was to get used to not using my nose for breathing but my mouth, ready for when I would have my regulator in.

Roll on the week after I was so nervous before my lesson. Although I had practiced during the week, only time would tell how well I would do. My teacher took me off to the deepest end of the pool and we kneeled on the bottom. He asked me to half flood my mask and get rid of the water. I did it. He asked me to fully flood my mask. I did it. He took out his regulator and I showed me he was smiling. Then he took me to the shallow end of the pool and we kneeled. He then asked me to remove my mask. I calmed my nerves, flooded my mask, then removed it; I put it back on and released the water. I had done it! I drove home with the biggest smile on my face.

My fear is still I work in progress but I had managed the first stage. Find out below what steps I took to help overcome the first hurdle.

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  • Establish the fear- My fear isn’t water or holding my breath but having my nose exposed under water. I think by having my nose exposed I’m going to inhale water and drown. What is actually happening is water is going slightly up my nose which is just uncomfortable rather than dangerous.
  • Practice- between my two lessons I went to the pool and practiced. Getting used to being underwater and exposing my nose would hopefully get me used the feeling.
  • Start small- I started off by swimming and holding my breath. Eventually I held onto the side and submerged myself underneath. This would get me used to water going straight up my nose.
  • Time- spending a short amount of time, practicing more often is better than spending a long time doing something. Half an hour was more than enough time to practice and still enjoy myself. If I spent any longer I would get bored or make silly mistakes.
  • Keep practicing- even though I had a great lesson my fear is still there. Even when you get over the first stage you have to still practice.
  • Reward yourself- I had practiced and I saw results so why wouldn’t I reward myself? When you do achieve a goal or accomplish something then reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be expensive or big but a little something to recognise the work you’ve put in.

What tips do you have for overcoming a fear? Comment below!

Photographs- Elena Kalis

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