4 min read

5 Fear Busting Techniques for Those with a Fear of Heights

facing off with fear of heights

If you suffer from acrophobia you’re not alone – many people are scared of heights!

According to the British Homeopathic Association, the term acrophobia is derived from the Greek words ‘akron’ (meaning heights) and ‘phobos’ (meaning fear). A 2009 article published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders estimates that around one in twenty adults suffer from acrophobia. It’s an irrational fear; while for some people standing on the edge of a high balcony elicits a physiological response, others can feel the effects of acrophobia just by standing on a chair. In his book, Why Civilizations Self-Destruct, American sociologist E. Pendell describes acrophobia as ‘inherited and derived from mutations in the hundreds of millions of years of our evolutionary span’.  Simply put, this phobia is more than likely an evolutionary survival mechanism – we don’t want to place ourselves in a situation where we could fall and become injured!

Whether your fear of heights is debilitating or relatively mild, it is often possible to overcome it. If you want to try your hand at rappelling or abseiling, it pays to have a plan of attack in place so you’re able to conquer your fear of heights on the day. While we recommend seeing a qualified psychologist if your phobia is severe, the following tips may help to ease those pre-jump butterflies!

1. Take it slow.

If you have a fairly severe fear of heights, it’s important to tackle your fear one step at a time. While once upon a time psychologists believed in literally throwing patients ‘in the deep end’, they now recognise that it’s often best to overcome your fears at your own pace – desensitisation is the key.

If you want to go rap jumping, try taking a couple of smaller steps first – before you take the leap! Visit roof top balconies, observation decks and other places where you can (safely) look over the edge and see how you feel. If fear begins to flood your senses, utilise the tips mentioned in tip two (below). The idea is to keep placing yourself in these situations until you feel more at ease.

2. Take a moment.

If you’re afraid of heights, you’re probably well aware of that feeling of panic that sets in the moment you look over the edge! This feeling of panic is very physical; it’s often characterised by an increased heart rate, butterflies in your stomach, dizziness and sweaty palms among other things.

The trick here is to learn how to control this physical reaction you experience when at heights. Take a moment before you look over the edge. Centre yourself, take a deep breath and focus your mind on the job at hand; this can help to calm your nerves.

3. Question why you are afraid.

Generally, people are scared of heights because they fear falling and getting hurt. It’s important to remember here that while some extreme sports do carry a high injury risk, rap jumping is one adrenaline-fuelled activity that is actually incredibly safe.

Here at Rap Jumping, we’re committed to safety. Since commercialisation in 1989, we’ve held a 100% safety record – no one has been hurt. We use high quality, secure harnesses, and our experienced instructors will be with you every step of the way. Our instructors have been selected for their ability and have undergone thorough training; they know the ropes better than anyone!

So for those who are nervous, question why you are afraid. If you’re scared of getting hurt, remember that our rap jumping courses are regulated and 100% safe.

4. You are in control.

Unlike some adventure sports, rap jumping places you in the driver’s seat. Rather than free-falling, you’re able to control your speed of descent – from the second you leave the edge of the building to the moment your feet touch the ground. This aspect of control is a source of comfort for many – if you don’t want to fly down the side of the building at one hundred miles an hour, you don’t have to!

It’s also important to note here that there is a brake person present for every jump as an added safety measure. This means that if you are struggling to complete your descent, we’re able to slowly lower you down to the ground!

5. Keep in mind how great you’ll feel at the end.

Overcoming your fears is very rewarding. If you suffer from acrophobia, you’ll be amazed at how relieved and accomplished you will feel once your feet hit the ground. Completing an activity such as rap jumping can help to overcome your fear of heights in day to day life; it’s a real achievement.

Overcoming your fear of heights can be very liberating. At Rap Jumping , we often find that those who are the most scared to begin with are the ones that want to do it all again!

We offer two different courses: an introductory course for beginners and an Ultimate Experience course for those who love to get their adrenaline pumping. For anyone with a fear of heights we recommend our introductory course, as this course involves backward abseiling rather than the forward-facing rappel method. It’s a great way to ease into the sport and conquer your fear of heights step by step; many of our clients who complete a backward abseil go on to try rap jumping as well.