Scuba diving anxiety affects over half of divers at least once on a dive. So don’t worry, you’re far from alone in feeling the pressures of anxiety while diving. If you’re starting to feel anxious underwater or concerned about your buddy feeling anxious, we’re here to help with some advice that we’ve gathered from scuba divers we’ve known to undergo underwater anxiety.
What is Underwater Anxiety?
Not sure whether you’ve experienced this feeling for yourself or unsure of what underwater anxiety actually means? Underwater anxiety is a psychological state that can cause emotional and physical symptoms. Some cases can be mild and others can be more severe. This can range from heartbeat quickening to overwhelming emotions leading to a panic attack.
Any feelings of underwater anxiety shouldn’t be treated lightly and you should seek methods of learning how to manage yourself or your buddy during these situations. It’s important to remember that this should be treated like any other scuba diving emergency and to know how to respond to anxiety.
There are a few different ways how you can manage underwater anxiety as it happens, and other ways in which you can prevent them altogether. I have been asking around with other scuba divers in the community to see how they’ve coped.
Emergency Procedures For Buddy Experiencing Underwater Anxiety
If your buddy is experiencing underwater anxiety, it should be treated as an emergency and act quickly. Let your buddy know that you are there for them and try to get their attention. Put your hand on their shoulder and establish good eye contact. Once you have their attention, signal your buddy to stop and breathe deeply. Often, just approaching your buddy and showing them a calming presence and displaying that they’re not alone can help them to feel calmer and more relaxed.
If your buddy is experiencing a more extreme form of underwater anxiety, so they may be removing gear, or rapidly ascending, you need to approach them with caution. Decide what actions to take depending on the situation, training and physical ability.
How to Manage Underwater Anxiety
If you’re starting to experience underwater anxiety, there are a few different methods to help you cope during these situations.
Try Breathing Exercises: Pause, take deep breaths and concentrate on your breathing. Focusing on your breathing not only relaxes you, but it will help to control your buoyancy. It also decreases your heart and respiration rates, therefore making you feel calmer and decreasing panic.
Think Positively: Thinking positively about the situation during underwater anxiety will help you to better cope with the situation. Remind yourself that you are in control, you are safe and that you are strong. Thinking positively can do wonders in calming yourself and taking back control of the situation. Think of the environment you’re in, remember how awesome diving is!
Prevention Methods For Underwater Anxiety
Honest communication: If you have experienced underwater anxiety before, make sure to have an open and honest conversation with your buddy and/or dive guide. Then be prepared if you start to feel anxious on your dive. Letting others know can also prevent underwater anxiety as you know others will be there for you, therefore lessening your stress.
Assess What’s Making You Anxious: When you felt anxious underwater, what was the thing that triggered it for you? Was it the currents? Or how deep you went? Knowing what made you anxious in the first place helps you on future dives so you know whether to avoid it, take further training to ease the anxiety or research into it more to help you learn more about that topic.
Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol has never been good to drink before diving the next day. Alcohol is a depressant and has been linked to mood disorders. It’s best to avoid alcohol, even if it’s one or two drinks if you’re going diving the next day.
Never Dive Beyond Your Skillset: Never put yourself in a situation that you don’t believe that you can take on. If you feel that taking on a wreck dive, deep dive, drift dive, etc. Or something that you’ve never tried before is making you feel anxious, don’t take on that dive and seek further training to perfect those skills.
Practice Makes Perfect: It goes without saying, that practice makes perfect! Keep practising those skills that are making you feel anxious in a confined area, such as a pool, so you can enhance those skills and become more confident.
Purchase Proper Equipment: If you feel anxious underwater, then we highly recommend that you invest in your own, high-quality, scuba diving gear. Your anxiety will be lessened if you’re using your own equipment as you’re familiar with your gear. If you’re renting gear, you might not know how to use it properly. If you’re on the lookout for reliable gear, get in touch and we’ll help select the right gear for your diving needs.
We’re Here to Help
Implementing proper prevention and management techniques will help you through your underwater anxiety. If you have any questions about underwater anxiety, prevention or selecting gear, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org where we have a team of scuba diving professionals, here to assist you with questions that you may have.