I am Absolutely Petrified of Heights! Not the greatest thing for a Mountain Leader to be. I don’t know where it came from? In my teens I bungee jumped off a bridge, sky dived from an aeroplane and remember a day when I queued with glee 13 times to ride Oblivion at Alton towers? I always hated crossing bridges though – if I ever did I would walk fast and only look forward.
Then I had children and became absolutely petrified of heights – ridiculously low heights too. I first noticed it when I stood on a chair to turn my smart board on at school. I felt so queasy and my hands were sweating and my breathing became intense – what was going on?
So how did I get over it – you may be wondering? Especially if you have seen pictures of me climbing and walking across Crib Goch. The answer is I am not over it, but I have learnt to control it and I also put myself in a position where I must face my fear a lot. I go out scrambling and climbing and this summer I became a high-ropes instructor. That was so scary – I went up and did a safety check with no rope or belayer attached to me.
Here are my steps to controlling the fear.
- I prepare myself – learn the facts about where I am going – how high it is and research if a rope is necessary.
- I take it steady and stay focused – One habit a walking partner has noticed that I have, is that I start asking if others are ok? That is when they know my fear is starting to creep in. It helps if I feel like I can help someone else who is afraid, I am then able to control my fear to make them feel less scared.
- I visualize success – I love getting to the top of any mountain or climbing wall and I know how euphoric it makes me, so I keep visualising that moment. This usually stops my heart from pounding and I start to get excited.
- Breathe – I take long deep yogic right from the abdomen style breaths, this keeps my anxiety at bay.
- I praise my self – “You’re doing great” – “Nearly there” -“you know it’s always worth it when you get to the top”.
Every time I climb, I get a little less petrified and I always feel great and so proud afterwards. Adventure is all about taking us out of our comfort zones and I love the feeling of achievement I get from getting to the top of a mountain.
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