Over 19 million adults experience specific phobias, with aquaphobia, or the fear of water, being one of the most common. Seeing or being around water can stimulate feelings of intense fear, anxiety and panic. Fear of water can range from being afraid of very deep water or huge waves to becoming anxious at the sight of water in a bathtub. These often irrational fears can be debilitating, since water is an essential component of daily life. And being able to swim is not only a common recreational activity, but also a very valuable life skill. As well as being afraid of water, you may simply be worried about coming to harm. However, by slowly working through your fears, following safety guidelines, and using protective devices and accessories for extra reassurance, the potential dangers of water can be greatly reduced.
Minimizing The Real Risk Of Drowning
Having a real fear of the potential dangers of open water is not without justification. In the US, unintentional drowning is the fifth leading cause of death, accounting for roughly 10 fatalities every day. With two of these deaths being young children, teaching kids to swim and feel confident in the water from an early age is important, and can prevent a fear of water developing in later life. At the same time, following water safety guidelines, only swimming in safe and supervised settings and learning the skills to deal with an accident can considerably reduce the risks of drowning for everyone.
Overcoming Fears Through Desensitization
Almost half of American adults are scared of the deep end of a pool and even more are frightened by deep open water. Whether your fear of water has been triggered by a bad experience in the past or you have always been anxious around water, overcoming your anxiety can take time. Learning to swim with confidence will lower your risk of accident or drowning, but before focusing on the mechanics of swimming, becoming slowly desensitized to the water is more important. This type of therapy involves gradually being exposed to water more often, practicing breathing and relaxing techniques around water, then slowly paddling or sitting in shallow water while you get used to the sensation and build up confidence.
Boosting Your Confidence In The Water
Once you have overcome the fear of simply getting in the pool, swimming aids such as armbands or other flotation devices can help to boost confidence further while you are learning to swim. They can allow you to concentrate on getting used to being in or under the water and master the different strokes without worrying about keeping afloat. Other accessories such as goggles and earplugs can make swimming a more enjoyable and relaxing experience, taking away extra anxiety and physical discomfort.
Fear of water is a common phobia. De-sensitization and relaxation techniques, combined with practical steps to improve safety and reduce anxiety, can help to boost your confidence in and around water. This can allow you to relax and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer without putting yourself in unnecessary danger.