If you’re afraid of heights, know that you’re far from alone. Actually, some fear of heights is healthy. We’re supposed to be afraid of things that could end in peril. But if a fear of heights is getting in the way of your life or happiness, it’s time to face your fears.
What is Acrophobia? Acrophobia is a big name for fear of heights, and it’s a fear that affects almost 5% of the population. Acrophobia is a more extreme version of a general fear of heights, and it can be irrational and persistent.
This is one of those “natural environment phobias,” which can include fear of water or thunder and lightning.
If you’re really afraid of heights, you’ll naturally avoid situations where you’ll be faced with heights. But we all know that this isn’t possible all the time.
Symptoms of acrophobia can include vertigo, increased heart rate, sweating, anxiety, shortness of breath, nausea, or trembling. And, naturally, many of these symptoms can increase your risk of hurting yourself in a precarious situation that involves height.
If you feel the need to work on your fear of heights, know that this probably isn’t something you should do all at once (especially if the fear is intense). Instead, consider choosing an activity that doesn’t completely terrify you and then work your way up towards something bigger. Small steps can make a big difference over time.
Choose activities from the following list and understand that they don’t have to be in any particular order. It’s up to you to choose what you feel comfortable with.
1. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
The hot air balloon travels in the direction of the wind, so you don’t have the feeling of the wind against your face as you travel. It feels more like you’re gliding. And you’re in a very large basket, so you have some sense of security.
In reality, most people are scared when they go on their first hot air balloon ride, but they usually report very different feelings after they land.
A hot air balloon ride can give you a feeling of tranquility as you’re up in the air, which can help you face your fear of heights.
2. Go Skydiving
There are a few reasons why you may want to consider this activity to face your fears of flying. First, skydiving is safer than you might think considering you’re deliberately jumping out of a plane.
Indeed, in a USPA report on safety, the number of jumps per 1 fatality has increased to more than 250,000 – and that’s just for individual skydivers. Tandem jumping, where a student jumps with a trained professional has a rate of 1 fatality per 500,000 jumps over the past 10 years. That makes the reality of suffering a freak accident during sky diving more unlikely than being killed by a bee or struck by lightning.
This one isn’t going to be for everyone, but for those who like to jump into things; skydiving is a great way to face your fear of heights. Once you’ve conquered more than 10,000 feet, tall buildings and bridges will have nothing on you!
3. Drive somewhere High up
Have you ever driven to an overlook point that triggers your fear of heights? Try driving up to a cliff slowly as you get comfortable with the heights.
In this way, you can face your fear while staying safe in your car. You can still have that feeling of being grounded because you’re in the car.
Depending on your level of fear, this one might seem tame, or it might be right on track. So go with your gut. If this seems a little scary, it might be a good place to start.
Research overlook points in your area to find one that works for you.
4. Go Hiking
Much like driving up to a high point, hiking to a viewpoint can help you face your fear of heights. And even though you don’t have the grounding of the car, you can retain control in the way you approach the edge.
You can walk up slowly and carefully, or you can even crawl to the edge. Spend as much time as you’re comfortable with and go at your own pace.
If it’s in your local area, you can go hiking again and again until you feel completely comfortable with the hike.
Before too long, you might be walking along the edge of a narrow path that’s hugging the edge of a mountain.
5. Zip Line
Zip Line is an amazing way to face a fear of heights because it’s incredibly fun and safe at the same time. Although it may not have the same altitude as skydiving, you do speed along a cable above canyons and valleys which can help you realize that heights aren’t as terrifying as they seem.
Although there have been stories of zip line accidents over the years, overall, zip line has been declared a very safe way to have fun for a variety of reasons.
First, the “cable” being used for zip line is comprised of 7 smaller cables woven together. As you might imagine, this makes the cable incredibly strong and resilient, and staff members regularly inspect the cables for signs of wear.
Another reason it is safe and a good fit for those afraid of heights is that you’re attached to the cable during the experience. This can help those with a fear of heights since they can feel more secure knowing that they are anchored to something. And with a usual limit of about 250 pounds, this activity can be done by most people.
Lastly, almost all reputable zip line facilities go through accreditation procedures by third-party associations to ensure that their cables are secure and the equipment is sound. If you’re looking to go on a zip line excursion, make sure that the company you choose has been certified by the Professional Ropes Course Association (PRCA) or the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) to know that you’re going to be riding safe ziplines.
Even though it may look frightening to fly from platform to platform 100’s of feet in the air, it can be a great, and safe way, to tackle your fear of heights. Once you feel the wind on your face, hear the electrifying sound of the zip line, and see the world flying by, how high up you are will be the last thing on your mind
Why You Should Face Your Fears
It can be healthy to have some fear of heights, but if you’re so afraid that it impacts your life, it can be a problem. Especially with a fear of heights, you never know when this fear will emerge.
You could be on a hike and end up on a narrow path that triggers all your anxiety. Now, imagine how great you’ll feel when you’re over your fear of heights. It might take a while to get there, but it’ll be quite liberating when you’re actually okay with being up high. Nothing can hold you back now!