Is Scuba Diving Scary? How to Get Over Your Fears

Last Updated: April 5, 2022

When many individuals go scuba diving for the first time, they may be afraid and question if the experience is terrifying?

It’s quite natural to have some anxiety or even panic when you’re just starting out. After all, being submerged is certainly not our natural habitat.

Continue reading to learn whether you should be scared of scuba diving, some common fears divers face and how to get over them.

Should I Be Scared of Scuba Diving

When you’re just starting off, it’s completely natural to be worried or even scared to scuba dive. After all, being submerged isn’t really our natural home. However, divers get to see spectacular animals in their natural habitats and feel a weightlessness only rivalled by space travel when underwater.

Many people find that studying and practicing scuba diving helps to alleviate many of their concerns. Understanding how the equipment works and being accustomed to it, for example, can alleviate a lot of concerns.

On the other hand, some anxieties are more severe and can stem from past events. These are frequently more difficult to overcome. Even the most apprehensive divers can dive with the correct attitude, patience, and possibly a little support and encouragement.

Is it Normal to Be Scared of Scuba Diving?

If you’ve never dived before, it’s quite natural to be worried or afraid. After all, we’re land creatures that like breathing fresh air. On the other hand, many others report that completing a scuba course and understanding safe diving methods has helped them overcome their phobias.

There’s no reason why you can’t conquer your worries if you have a good mindset and dedication.

When you first begin scuba diving, it might be intimidating. It’s completely normal to be afraid of something you don’t fully understand. However, this is a common dread. Once you’ve done a few dives, you’ll see that the majority of your fears were unjustified or unlikely to occur, if you follow all safety precautions and techniques.

Instead, as you view the unusual marine life, magnificent underwater landscapes and experience the sensation of weightlessness, your anxieties will gradually be replaced by more pleasant sensations.

Common Fears of Scuba Diving

common fears when diving

A Fear of Drowning

Drowning is a natural fear for humans because they are terrestrial, not aquatic animals. So, finding oneself submerged in a pool, lake, or ocean with a strange object in your mouth might be frightening. Unless you have a genuine fear of drowning, most individuals find solace by just slowing down and keeping in shallow water.

Don’t push yourself any further or any deeper unless you’re sure you’re ready. Don’t jump right into any underwater activities if you’re afraid of drowning. Simply sit quietly on the bottom for a few minutes to become used to breathing underwater.

A Fear of Running Out of Air or Failing to Reach the Surface

While the fear of drowning is related to the fear of running out of air or not being able to reach the surface, this fear is more specific and focuses on the air supply abruptly stopping, either due to equipment failure or because the diver simply runs out of air.

Simply breathing in the regulator to get used to how it feels is one of the greatest methods to conquer this issue. If necessary, begin on dry land. It’s also beneficial to learn proper air management techniques, such as instructing divers to check their air gauges on a frequent basis. It’s also beneficial to learn to trust your equipment.

People regularly ask diving instructors if they have ever seen properly utilized equipment fail? If a regulator fails, the current design implies that it will allow the water to flow freely. It will essentially offer too much air rather than not enough air.

You May Be Claustrophobic

Some people experience claustrophobia, or the sensation of being “stuck” underwater, which is aggravated by the water’s pressure. This can induce anything from discomfort to fear, leading to a diver ascending too quickly from deep.

If you or a dive partner frequently have this sensation, the best thing you can do is attempt to relax your mind. Keep your thoughts on what you’re doing and seeing rather than the water between you and the surface, by focusing on your breathing and reminding yourself that you can surface at any time.

Take it easy if you become claustrophobic and don’t push yourself too hard. Acclimate to the sensation of being underwater gradually.

A Fear of Marine Animals: Most Commonly Sharks

Some people are put off by the prospect of entering the world of sharks and envisage terrible feeding machines lying in the depths, waiting for them. Others find octopus or eels repulsive, even frightening. Sadly, the media has fueled these worries, but if this is a full-fledged phobia, future divers should seek professional help.

If you have a friend who is afraid of sharks, show them the statistics and explain that only a small percentage of marine species are hazardous to humans, and that shark attacks, particularly against scuba divers, are extremely rare. Realizing that most creatures, including sharks, avoid people because of the loud bubbles we generate every time we breathe, might help a new diver overcome this typical anxiety.

A Fear of Failing

Scuba diving challenges you to travel in three dimensions and places physical demands on your body that are unlike those seen in most other sports. You must also master a series of skills, such as mask clearing, how to look after your ears, proper sinking and floating, and more.

For some people, all of these additional obligations might be overwhelming, and they are afraid of failing and appearing silly. Accept that diving is a new skill that will take time to learn.

Each diver progresses at their own speed. A slow learner in the beginning may surpass everyone else as time goes on. Accept the challenge of learning something completely new and embrace the concept of being a novice once more.

How Do I Get Over My Fear of Scuba Diving?

get over your fear

Don’t be Scared to be Anxious

Fear can actually be beneficial since it prevents us from becoming complacent and disregarding underwater hazards. It’s perfectly normal to be concerned about being underwater as long as the dread doesn’t overwhelm you.

Practicing in Shallow Waters is Ideal for Anxious Divers

Instead of jumping into the sea from the back of a boat, check if you can get into the water by strolling in from the beach or practicing in a pool. It’s an excellent method to get a feel for scuba diving, and it’ll most likely be how you begin if you’re taking an Open Water Diver course.

Slowly and Consistently Inhale and Exhale

Most people don’t think about their breathing on a daily basis, but when you’re underwater, you can hear it which can be strange at first. Simply take things gently and inhale and exhale slowly. You can also wear a full-face diving mask, which allows you to breathe through both your nose and mouth.

Find an Instructor Who is Familiar with Your Fears

There are thousands of scuba diving schools worldwide, each offering a unique experience. Make it a point to visit the diving facility and meet your instructor before your dive, and don’t be afraid to speak up and express your concerns.

The majority of teachers are quite helpful, and it’s extremely unusual for them to want to basically throw you into the deep end and let you cope with whatever is going on around you. Your fears have most likely been observed a thousand times by scuba instructors. If you’re still frightened, you may ask to practise in calmer waters ahead of time or perhaps take a private lesson.

Boost Your In-Water Self-Assuredness

If you’re not the best swimmer or have general concerns about being in the water, it’s preferable to address one issue at a time rather than trying to solve them all at once by learning scuba diving. Taking some basic swimming training and building confidence will help you overcome typical diving phobias.

Stay in Control and Don’t Push Your Limits

Pushing your limitations is often recommended as an excellent learning method, but if you’ve previously been afraid, this is unlikely to work. It will, on the contrary, make you feel uneasy.

Before moving on to something new, learn via repetition and repeat until you feel comfortable. A competent instructor won’t ask you to do something you can’t accomplish easily.

How to Mentally Prepare for Scuba Diving

prepare mentally for scuba diving

Visualize and Think Positive About Your Dive

Think about the dive ahead of you while sitting in a peaceful spot. Think good thoughts and visualize all of the fantastic things you will see and experience, as well as a successful dive. This is a technique used to this day by professional divers to calm their minds.

As you descend, see yourself in command, verifying that all of your equipment is in place, relaxing your breathing rate, keeping excellent buoyancy, and remaining in communication with your dive team. Then concentrate your mind on the dive. Visualize yourself relaxed, checking your computer and SPG often, then ascending slowly, safely, and steadily with a safety stop, establishing buoyancy on the surface, and finishing the dive with plenty of air.

Never Enter the Water with Apprehension

Apprehension is a feeling of concern about your capacity to deal with a problem. Starting a dive in this condition can be risky since apprehension can quickly evolve into a panic. You may boost your self-confidence and approach the dive with a good, relaxed attitude by thinking about what might happen during your dive and how you would deal with it.

Focus on Your Breathing

Correct breathing allows you to retain a clear brain in the event of a potentially stressful situation. The optimum breathing cycle when diving starts with a protracted exhale, which allows your lungs to evacuate as much tension-inducing carbon dioxide as possible. Then, with your stomach pulled out, take deep, continuous inhales to enable your lungs to expand as much as possible.

Each dive breath in and out might take 7 seconds or more with practice, giving you a 15-second breathing cycle. That implies just four breaths each minute, which will help you think more clearly while also extending the life of your air.

To Reduce Stress, Practice Mindfulness

Anyone who is stressed can benefit from a variety of mindfulness exercises. Students, for example, frequently utilize them to relieve tension during test sessions. Mindfulness techniques assist you in overcoming worry and focusing your attention on what matters most. Many therapists claim that these treatments improve mental fitness, which is precisely what a diver needs.

Prepare Yourself by Learning as Much as You Can Before Diving

It’s critical to be psychologically prepared, in addition to learning under the supervision of a professional diving instructor and obtaining your c-card and a dive partner.

If you read about diving mishaps, do it with the goal of figuring out what to avoid. If nothing else works, you might seek the advice of a psychologist. This individual understands how to deal with your anxiety.

Get in Shape

For diving, you must be both physically and psychologically fit. You can get in shape doing these exercises and workouts.

The more fit you are, the better you will be able to handle the rigours of swimming against the tide and the more effectively you breathe, the longer your supply of air will endure.

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