Acrophobia is an extremely common fear, so if you’re afraid of heights, know that you’re in good company.
Actually, it’s natural to have some fear of being elevated to new highs. Why? Well, because you could fall.
Don’t let anyone tell you that your fear is irrational, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it.
There are many levels to acrophobia, but regardless of where you land, you can overcome your fear of heights.
You may not like the “how,” but it can definitely be done. So whether you’re planning to go skydiving or ride the Ferris wheel for the first time, you really can overcome your acrophobia.
Here are 4 activities you can do to face your fear of heights.
1. Go hiking
If you’re afraid of heights, you can ease yourself in by hiking up to a small cliff and sitting on the edge. Choose a cliff that’s just high enough to make you uncomfortable and work your way up as you get more comfortable with that height.
This is a great exercise because you retain complete control the entire time. You can get as close to the edge as you want and take your time doing so.
Even as you get close to the edge, you can crawl your way there or walk. It’s all about your comfort level. Just be sure to push yourself further each time you try this. Go a little bit further each time. Before you know it, you’ll be walking right up to the edge.
And if you’re really uncomfortable standing close to the edge, maybe you can start by driving up to an overlook point. Just be sure to check your car before the trip. Getting stuck could lead to a major setback in facing this fear.
2. Try a balance beam
Balance exercises are great for increasing your confidence at higher elevations. If you’re not confident in your balance, you’re going to feel uncomfortable and unsteady when you’re at any height where a fall is possible. So the more balance you have, the more control you will feel.
Alternatively, you can install a slackline in your yard and practice daily.
As you get better with balance, you can slowly increase the height of the line. And remember that this isn’t a race. It may take a very long time to increase your balance and get comfortable at greater heights, but that’s okay. Once you overcome your fear, it’ll be gone for good.
3. Use visualization
Imagine yourself in high places, feeling completely comfortable and at ease. Visualize doing something that scares you just a little bit. Practice your visualization every day until the outcome feels real to you. Then, try the thing that you were visualizing. If you’ve done the mental work and are ready, you’ll find that the thing isn’t as scary as you thought.
If it’s still too terrifying to try, go back to your visualization exercises.
It’s important that you choose something that doesn’t feel like too much of a stretch. So if you’re afraid to go on the kiddie coaster, don’t visualize yourself on a hot air balloon in Napa. Instead, set your sights on something that feels more realistic to you.
It’s not that bungee jumping is actually out of reach, but if you think it is, it’s going to be much more difficult to convince yourself that it’s not.
4. Practice breathing exercises
When you’re in the moment and finally ready to face your fears, you’re going to need some tools to help keep your stress to a minimum.
When you’re in a situation that scares you, what happens to your breath and pulse? It quickens, right? This is the result of your mind sending stress signals to the rest of your body to put it into high alert.
But here’s the good news…
It works the same way in reverse. By controlling your breathing, you can send the signal back to your brain that everything is okay.
Here’s what happens.
There you are, standing at the edge of a cliff. Your fight or flight reaction kicks into high gear, and your breath quickens.
But you’ve been practicing stress reduction and are ready with breathing exercises.
So you close your eyes and visualize yourself with feelings of safety and comfort. And you intentionally slow your breathing. This naturally has a calming effect on the rest of your body, and your pulse will return to normal, and your body will let go of the fight or flight reaction (for the moment). You can always step away from the edge of the cliff. Remember that you’re in control.
It’s somewhat natural to fear heights, but when your fears get in the way of your everyday life, it’s time to face them. Try the four techniques on this list to start working on your fear of heights. And remember that it’s a process. Don’t expect drastic changes overnight.
But you can work through your fears little by little.