What is up with acrophobia?

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What is up with acrophobia?

by Henna Ooi, Year 10K

Have you ever stood on a glass floor and looked down on the Earth beneath you, suddenly realising the state you’re in? That you are about 410m off the ground and nothing but a thin glass floor keeps you from falling to your death? Realising that the cars, people and houses look like tiny ants, which suddenly makes you feel like a giant?

Unfortunately, I have. Just like 5% of the entire population, I too suffer from acrophobia, which is a fancy word for the “fear of heights”. Just the mere thought of being a few meters off the ground churns my stomach and fills it up with worms and other unmentionables every time I’m in this situation. And I mean, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Personally, I’ve always felt like this fear is the worst fear to ever have, but it’s not true. It’s a phobia after all, an irrational fear.

The most widely accepted explanation is that acrophobia stems from the natural fear of falling and being injured or killed. Not really an unreasonable fear to have, huh? On the other hand, being afraid of heights can limit the amount of activities a person can partake in, which can negatively influence a person’s quality of life.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to overcome acrophobia. And not just acrophobia, but phobias in general. Psychologists used to employ a technique called ‘flooding’ to help treat phobias. However, it was proved to not only cause severe trauma but also worsen the situation as the participant was meant to either face their fear or yield in. But I don’t know much about that, so instead, I’ve thought of a few ways to overcome phobias. When I said that I myself have this weakness; what I forgot to mention is that I actually overcame this fear.

YES. I REALLY DID.

That’s why it’s essential that this advice is taken into your souls, to be remembered forever (if you don’t have trust issues, then trust me, you’ll thank me later).

1 Prepare

Preparation is the key thing that guides you slow and steady. If you know that you are going to be dealing with heights, try to prepare yourself in advance. Visualise the situation and understand that it does not pose any threat to your safety and go over all the safety precautions that will be around you to ensure that you do not fall. In the panic of the moment, it is hard to think rationally about things so do it beforehand instead.

2 Go slow

As I mentioned before, the ‘flooding’ technique was something that rushed the person to overcome their fear, which could lead to worse conditions. Taking it slow and at own pace allows you to feel comfortable and confident about facing your fear. For example, your cat is stuck up a tree, and you need to get her down. You don’t want to call a fireman to the rescue so take your time climbing up the tree and soothe yourself to make it feel less traumatic. Most people who have acrophobia never want to look down. So if it helps, don’t. Once reaching the top. Prepare again, and make your way down.

3 Breathe

Don’t think too much. It can cause your conscience to take in all the panic and express it out. You don’t want that if you want to overcome your fear. Close your eyes, breathe. Relaxation is a proven method that helps your body to calm down and release all thoughts. So just get lost in the mind. Pretend you have no fear. Courage is the key. I know I say a lot of things are the key but every door has a key, so open it without thought.

Now I know it looks so simple. 3 easy steps right? These steps will help you later in life, as it helped me. You have no idea how it feels to feel free of fear. All it takes is to overcome it once. When you realise that nothing is wrong and jumping off a standing post isn’t as scary as it seemed in your mind, you know you’ve overcome this part of your life. You will know when you feel brave, confident and butterfly-free. I hope this article helped.

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