Men and women are equally possible to develop fear of heights / fear of falling / acrophobia. It manifests with a feeling of anxiety when the canyoner gets exposed to a vertical drop. It doesn’t play a significant role if the person is near the edge or not – just the thought of being exposed can trigger fear.
The most common symptoms are a shaky – paralysing feeling, sweaty palms, faster hart beat and difficulty getting close to the drop. In extreme condition it can develop a panic attack, vertigo and a frozen position. Fear of falling gets to your stomach as a nervous kick and it exists there as a natural mechanism to protects you from falling, a rather common fear in extreme sports like canyoning, climbing, caving and mountaineering.
Generally speaking when someone struggles with fear of heights/falling/acrophobia would never consider canyoning. However, avoiding a sport that is safe when practiced properly can make otherwise active people leading a boring life instead of having fun and enjoying adventure.Canyoning and fear of heights don’t cooperate well. Therefore, if you are experiencing anxiety you could read some tips that might help you overcome it and move on.
• Practice, practice, practice so you can trust yourself and your gear.
• Work on gaining control of your anxiety feeling at challenging places like a playground.
• Start low – participate in excursions in easy canyons with an experienced group.
• Read about the canyon’s highest rappel and all technical details you can find.
• Close your eyes and visualize rappelling with confidence and ease.
• Keep yourself hydrated, eat regularly, rest and have a positive attitude during canyoning.
• Focus on the fun of canyoning and enjoy the experience.
• Breath, take it easy, go easy on yourself.
• Notify your fellow canyoners if the symptoms continue and let them assign a partner for you until the exit of the canyon.
Conquerself-confidence bit by bit and have fun – that’s canyoning!