Updated: Jun 23, 2021
Def: Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.
Ever been worried about a particular skill or dive? Anxiety is a natural reaction to something new / unknown. There are a few techniques you can use to reduce / remove Anxiety.
Visualisation is a very effective technique and can be done in the comfort of your own home.
You find a quiet space and close your eyes then slowly remaining calm and keeping your breathing as relaxed as possible, you slowly work through the skill or dive that is making you anxious, by visualising it in small incremental steps. If you start to get too anxious, just stop give yourself a break and then when you have quiet time again start over, you will find each time you do it you will get further and remain calmer until you are able to visualise the skill or dive without undue stress.
If you are unfamiliar with a particular skill or dive then Visualisation will be a bit more difficult but then we come to the next technique which is skill practice, very similar to Visualisation however this is more hands on. Actually find somewhere calm and relaxed and practice the skill, in shallow water, that is causing you Anxiety or practice the skills you may need on the dive so that you can conduct them almost automatically, you can build up muscle memory so that even if the situation is a bit stressful and making you anxious your muscle memory takes over and you can complete the skill or dive in a relaxed manner due to keeping your skills up.
Skill practice is something we should be doing on a regular basis, especially with the emergency skills (when did you last air share with a buddy or friend) but also with other skills you may have only done in the confined water or on your Open water training dives, like removing and replacing a weight system or your BCD. Not something to be done randomly, they will take thought and practice but the more you do them the easier they become and in the event you actually need them you will be more prepared and relaxed in accomplishing them with little difficulty. I would also recommend having a dive professional with you when you try them for the first time so they can not only assist you but also guide you in the key points to ensure you remember and conduct them correctly.
There are many other techniques that can also assist with reducing Anxiety, feel free to share yours in the comments below.