Dizziness? Butterflies in your stomach? A distrust and aversion? These are exceptionally common problems for many people when it comes to heights. In fact, some people have more than just an aversion to heights, to the point where they start panicking even when standing on a chair. This fear of heights is known as acrophobia. There’s a wide range of reactions that people can have when faced with heights. Most people would simply rather avoid them but do okay when placed on a rock wall or at the top of a ten meter diving well. However, there is a whole other group that simply cannot manage them. That’s okay! So what actually causes a fear of heights, and what can you do to help yourself overcome the discomfort that can happen when faced with them?
When children, and even infants, are exposed to any form of height, scientists have found that even brave children will show caution. This suggests that there is something innate in humans that dissuades us from wanting to be around heights. In all likelihood, humans’ preference to avoid heights is probably an evolutionary advantage to help improve an individual’s odds at survival. However, a true phobia of even low heights may not be something programed into an individual at birth. While no one knows exactly what causes acrophobia, there is some thought that it involves a traumatic fall or a learned fear for an individual that induces true panic.
Heights could be difficult for individuals due to a variety of factors. The way that we perceive the world isn’t necessarily geared towards heights. Our bodies provide information to us about where we are compared to other objects through the following:
All of these senses help us to understand where we are in relation to other objects and people. If any of these ways of gathering information are hindered, our sense of location can be thrown off. This may lead to a feeling of uneasiness or disturbance that dissuades an individual from participating in heights-related activities. Addressing spatial orientation is key to conquering a fear of heights.
If you’ve ever been to Rebounderz trampoline park in Newport News, you’ve probably seen the JumpXtreme Tower. This 14-foot high platform sits high above an air cushion, and it’s specifically designed for individuals to take a leap of faith. But even at 14 feet, this can be too much for some people. So what do you do about it? There are a couple of things you can do to work towards managing a fear of heights.
There are two main functioning parts of your brain that provide you with your ability to think: the cerebellum and the cerebrum. The cerebellum drives your fight or flight instincts. It’s the reactionary part of your brain that is meant to help you survive. The cerebrum is the thinking or logical part of your brain. When you are confronted with heights, your cerebellum wants to take over and encourages you to run away from the problem that is causing your fear. This can be an uncomfortable feeling, but if you embrace the discomfort and allow your brain to work back to the cerebrum, you have the potential to talk yourself into feeling okay.
Once you’ve been able to work your logical, thinking brain into a point where you realize that, when you’re confronted with a height, you will logically be okay, then you can start taking baby steps towards conquering your fear of heights. Start with small tasks at heights that have make you a bit uncomfortable. Only you know what this height may be at? Eventually, you can work up to jumping off the JumpXtreme Tower with confidence.
While you’re working through conquering baby steps, utilize your senses that we talked about above in order to help your mind cope with where you are in relation to things, like the ground. Use your eyes to evaluate where you are. Use your sense of touch to help provide a grounding feeling. Use your senses of smell and hearing to help you figure out what else is around you. Go through all the senses to help you think through the problem you are faced with.
Here at Rebounderz Newport News, we’re all about play and helping individuals become their better selves! Come tackle your fear of heights with the JumpXtreme Tower today!