Anxiety. Don’t you love it? The sweaty palms, the quickening of your heart, maybe even the feeling of breakfast trying its best to climb its way back out? Anxiety is something we’ve all come across at one point or another in our lives. It’s also not uncommon to feel this when skydiving for the first time! Skydiving is really exciting and fun, but the part of your brain responsible for recognizing dangerous situations (the amygdala) has some serious questions. You’re choosing to jump out of a plane? You’re choosing to fall over 250mph to the ground with only a parachute and an instructor? That’s right we are, this is what we live for!
Although safety is always our number-one business, old skymasters like us know that most people are going to be nervous no matter whose hands they are in. Every one of us had to take that first step out of the cab and into the wild blue sky. The question is, how? How do you get to that first step? How do you get there when you’re so anxious you feel like you could just jump right out of your skin?
Eliminate the ‘Unknown’ Factor
Research is important. Research can calm your nerves faster than most when it comes to skydiving. That being said, it’s important to do the right kind of research. You don’t want to spend hours going down rabbit holes, finding the worst-case scenarios. It’s important to have that information of course, but reading only the worst information you can find is going to make your anxiety worse.
Set a timer while researching! Allow yourself a half hour to look up the negative information when you sit down, no more. Once that 30 minutes is up, follow this with at least a half-hour of positive research. This method is great for everyday anxieties as well. What kind of research is positive? Reviews, travel blogs, your skydiving center’s YouTube page — there are endless positive research opportunities out there. When you start seeing all the different people who have taken to the sport, you’ll start to realize there is little to be worried about. Stop thinking “What if it goes wrong?”and start thinking “What if it’s amazing?” You’ll likely end up psyching yourself up so much that you’ll have anxiety about not jumping yet. You’ll walk in on jump day confident and eager, armed to the teeth with questions.
Don’t let those nerves get the better of you. Ask those burning questions, even if you think they’re silly. Your instructors are here to educate and introduce you to the skydiving world. There are no stupid questions, and we are going to be spending a few hours together getting you ready. Asking questions is expected and encouraged!
The questions may not even be about the procedures or your itinerary. Ask your instructor about their first jump. Ask them how they felt in the cab up, during their jump, and after on the ground! You may be surprised who has been in exactly your shoes before. Your instructor is one of the brave few doing this for a living, so they’ve seen the worst and the best in this business. Put your trust in them, and they will assure you a happy flight.
Take Care of Yourself
When you wake up that morning, the butterflies in your stomach will have you thinking it’s Christmas ‘99 again. You may be tempted to skip breakfast, but don’t. Eat a normal, healthy meal that morning. If you do need to keep it light due to that nervous tummy, that’s okay too. Just make sure you have something.
Remember, you should plan to be at the center for 1-2 hours at least. If you don’t eat something before arriving, you run the risk of your blood sugar dropping, which can exacerbate anxiety. You’ll be flying through the sky. You do not want to miss out on the spectacular view because you were dizzy with hunger. No one wants 12,000-ft in the air when their belly starts rumbling for a granola bar!
You’ve done the research, eaten a nice balanced meal, and you’ve done your training! You’ve been fitted for your gear and checked it over twice. You’re as ready as you could possibly be — and yet you still can’t shake those first jump jitters. You’ve still got that heart thumping in your ears. What do you do?
First things first, breathe. Controlled breathing is important when trying to overcome anxiety! Take in deep, controlled breaths. Hold that breath for a couple seconds if you need to. When you exhale, do so slowly. Focus on the feeling of your lungs filling up and slowly deflating.
This will ease most anxieties, but if you need extra help, grounding is a great tactic combined with your controlled breathing exercises.
Ground is exactly as it sounds: the act of becoming grounded. It brings you back into the moment and out of your head. Focus on what is around you. Become present by focusing on something as small as the feeling of your jeans against your legs. Build up the sensations. The wind in your hair, the sound of the plane’s engine, the beautiful earth below. Even if it can be a little scary, you are about to embark on a life changing experience and you want to be entirely present for it!
Can You Overcome Skydiving Anxiety?
Skydiving anxiety is annoying to deal with for a diver, but it’s definitely not uncommon. If you do your research, take care of yourself, and ask questions, you will know you’ve got this. Please, if you need any reassurance do not hesitate to ask us. We want you to fall in love with skydiving as much as we have and are happy to reassure you to help ease any worries. We know first-hand what kind of amazing feelings an experiences lie on the other side of fear, and how sometimes we all have to do something while we feel scared or anxious. That’s called courage!
We will ensure you’re armed with knowledge and guts, you might just even find yourself comforting fellow first time jumpers. You’ve already proven yourself braver than most with the interest in skydiving. All you need now is to take that first leap.