7 Reasons To Skydive When Being Scared Of Heights

Two skydivers in red and white suits, celebrating a successful jump with arms raised pointing up.
Skydiving Helps People Overcome Their Fears Of Extreme Heights

Many people dream of skydiving once in their life but are unsure if they can do it because they are scared of heights. Can you go skydiving when being scared of heights?

People can (and should) go skydiving when being scared of heights. In fact, skydiving helps to overcome even extreme fears of heights and to connect heights with something positive. 

In fact, it is not only possible to skydive when you are afraid of heights but it is also recommended to do so. Below you can find 7 reasons why you can skydive when you are afraid of heights plus 7 non-bullshit tips to help you cope with your fears. 

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Why You Can Go Skydiving When Being Scared Of Heights 

People Are Biologically Programmed To Be Afraid Of Heights 

The first step is to acknowledge that it is totally normal to be afraid of heights. In fact, people are biologically programmed to fear high altitudes. Similar to the desire to eat and breathe, being afraid of heights belongs to our basic instincts and has helped us to survive in the past. 

Obviously, not everyone has the same level of fear of heights – some people are bothered more than others. In its extreme form, being afraid of heights is called acrophobia. However, unlike other phobias such as being afraid of spiders, acrophobia is nothing irrational or Maybelline. 

Scientists, for example, have tested the effects of extreme heights on babies. Babies needed to crawl over a transparent table to get to their moms. However, none of the babies was able to do so which proves the fact that we are born to avoid heights and that it is nothing that we pick-up when growing up. 

Knowing this, you can imagine that everyone who has skydived in their past had to overcome their fears and jump. If they were able to do it, you are too! 

Skydiving Is Different Than Standing On A Bridge Or Tower

People lose their perspective for heights after a certain altitude. Being so high in the sky means that the eyes do not have fixpoints anymore. As a result, you lose your feeling for distances and you have no idea how high you are – and neither has your body. 

As a result of this, it is much scarier to stand at a cliff or the edge of a bridge than sitting at the edge of an airplane. 

In fact, many people told me after their jump that they did not feel as scared as they expected to feel. Everything on earth looked so small and so far away that it was not frightening for them to look down.

They also told me that they totally lost the feeling for speed and time. If you jump, you will experience a similar effect and I can assure you that it will be much easier for you than to look from any high object. 

If you want to know more about the 11 amazing effects that skydiving has on your body, read this article for more information.

You Only Need A Second Of Courage To Skydive 

A useful strategy that works wonders if you are afraid of heights, is to set small goals to release your internal pressure. Your first goal should not be to skydive directly but to just book a skydive. 

Call your skydiving company and tell them that you are not sure if you are brave enough to jump. Once you arrive at the dropzone tell your tandem instructor that you just want to get on the plane with the other people to see how it feels like. Your tandem instructor will understand you and will not force you to jump. 

Once you are in the airplane and have reached the necessary altitude watch the others jump out of the plane. This is often quite motivating as well and many people overcome their fears at this moment. 

If you still do not feel like jumping, it is completely ok – you have already accomplished a lot. Your next goal should be just to sit down at the edge of the airplane. Your goal should still not be to jump but to just sit there. 

If you sit at the edge and you do not want to jump, it is completely ok. However, if you sit there and watch down, you will only need a small second of courage to ask your tandem instructor to jump. If you have that one second, you will skydive. If not, it is fine as well – you have accomplished your goal to sit at the edge. 

Breaking this process down into small steps and goals makes it much easier to execute. In the end, you do not need to be brave all the time – you are just required to be brave for one second. 

It will also help you to prepare mentally for your skydive and to understand in detail how tandem skydiving works. My article about tandem skydiving is ideal for skydiving newcomers who will conduct their first jump soon. It covers all safety aspects and provides practical tips to make your jump as enjoyable and memorable as possible!

You Are Equipped To Fall From The Extreme Height When Skydiving 

People are afraid of standing at the edge of a cliff or tower because they could fall or the building could collapse. They might lose their balance or someone might push them over the edge. And if you fall you will most certainly die. However, skydiving is different.

In skydiving you are meant to fall, you are meant to jump. It is not something unintentional that happens to you but rather something that you initiate and prepare for. You are designed to fall and you have mechanisms in place that make sure that you survive. 

You also do not jump alone. You have your tandem instructor who has performed thousands of jumps successfully before. He knows how to deploy the parachute, stabilize your freefall, and land safely. 

Once you jumped and are in freefall, you will also not be afraid anymore. The worst part is behind you and you have overcome your fear. You will also reach terminal velocity i.e. the maximum speed that you can reach. Once reaching terminal velocity, it does not feel like falling anymore but more like flying. 

Skydiving Will Help You Overcome Extreme Fears Of Heights 

Skydiving will also reduce your fears of extreme heights. To be clear, it will not erase the fear of extreme height rather will bring it down to a healthy level. Even after hundreds of jumps, many skydivers still feel a little bit of fear before every jump. However, they have learnt to manage them and they learnt that they will be rewarded after being courageous.

Ultimately, skydiving is also not about being fearless but to channel and manage your fears and to put them into the right perspective. A skill that will be helpful in many other areas of your life. 

For example, you will still be afraid when standing on a high tower after you skydived. But the fear will be lower because you know that you have been at higher “places” before and survived. You even jumped from a higher height than that of the building which will give you confidence. 

You are also likely to connect the positive feeling of a skydive with extreme heights. I have met people with acrophobia that did not get enough of skydiving and picked it up as a hobby. 

Skydiving Will Boost Your Confidence Specifically When You Are Scared 

Skydiving is also known to boost one’s confidence. It is a mental and emotional challenge for everyone and once you have achieved it you will feel energized and confident. This holds even more true if you are extremely scared of heights. 

Fear and anxiety are not the only feelings that you will feel. In fact, people are likely to experience a sensory overload during their first skydive. If you’d like to learn more and shed light on this phenomenon, read my article about the 7 true feelings of skydiving.

If you were not at least a little bit afraid of jumping out of the airplane, it would not have the same effect on you. You would still be able to enjoy the freefall and the beautiful scenery but your body would be less likely to send out dopamine after your jump. Dopamine is also known as the “happiness hormone” that controls our feeling of happiness. 

The more scared you are of extreme heights, the more courage is needed for you to skydive and the bigger your confidence boost will be afterward. 

You can also channel this confidence boost and sense of achievement to other areas of your life. If you struggle to do something in the future or have a bad time, remember that you had been able to overcome your fears in the past.

If you revive the skydive months later and remember the feeling of achievement, your body is likely to release small doses of dopamine again that will help you feel better. In order to have this effect later, I would highly recommend getting a video of your first skydive. For me, it is always a reminder of my courage and abilities.

I also wrote a separate article about why you should get a video of your first jump even if it is expensive. This link will bring you to the article.

The Tandem Instructor Will Calm You Down Before The Skydive

The last reason why you will be able to perform a tandem skydive is that you will not jump alone. A tandem instructor will literally be by your side the whole time and make sure that you arrive at the ground safely. Some people are afraid that they will be paralyzed by their fears and will not be able to move. 

Even if you were to be paralyzed, you would still survive. The worst thing that happens to you is that you will not be able to enjoy the skydive as much.

Even if you panic and do everything that you should not do, the tandem instructor will be able to bring you down safely. They undergo special safety training which includes modules about how to cope with panicking students. 

Tandem instructors also have a good sense of your mood. If they feel like you are scared above the norms, they will talk to you and calm you down. They will tell you about the number of jumps that they have performed before and that nothing has ever happened. They will also guide your focus on the positive feeling after the jump. 

Tandem instructors face nervous and anxious students every day and they probably helped people that were more afraid than you before. 

(016) 7 Non-Bullshit Tips To Overcome Your Fears When Skydiving
7 Non-Bullshit Tips To Overcome Your Fears When Skydiving

7 Non-Bullshit Tips To Overcome Your Fears When Skydiving 

I already touched upon the strategy to break the skydive down into different parts. There are more strategies that you can follow in order to calm down and overcome your fears. 

Focus On Your Breath Before Jumping 

One of the best ways to calm down is to close your eyes and focus on your breath. Taking deep breaths is proven to relieve stress and anxiety. People often forget to breathe when facing anxiety-inducing situations which makes the anxiety much worse. Your body does not get the level of oxygen that it needs so you will panic even more. 

If you, however, breathe in a stable rhythm, your heart rate will slow down and counteract your increased level of adrenaline. This will calm you down and help you enjoy your skydive. 

Many professional athletes perform breathing exercises before a competition because it helps them calm down and refocus. Once they have overcome the first anxiety and nervousness they will get into a flow in which they only focus on their own performance.

If you are concerned about your breathing, make sure to check out my article about how skydivers breathe. It clarifies all misconceptions and gives practical tips on the right breathing!

You can also get in such a flow, if you do some simple breathing exercises before your skydive and remember to breathe when jumping.

Visualize Your Landing And Success Before Skydiving 

Another strategy that is copied from professional athletes is to visualize your success i.e. your safe landing beforehand. In this way, your body and mind will be warmed up for the challenge at hand. You will also start connecting the positive feelings of success with the challenge to jump.

Did you know that landing is the most important part of skydiving? There’s very little room for error in this part of skydiving, so I wrote an article about the essentials you need to learn to ensure your safe landing.

The more positive feelings and excitement you have before your jump, the easier it will be to actually jump. 

Visualizing the skydive before also has the effect that your mind starts acting as if you had already performed the skydive. It is usually much easier to do something the second time than doing something the first time (if the first time was not a total disaster). 

Skydive Together With Friends And Support Each Other 

It is usually also always harder to accomplish challenges or to overcome your fears alone. When you go skydiving together with a friend, you will be able to support and to motivate each other. Being with someone you know and taking on the challenge of skydiving as a team will also give you the feeling of security and safety.

If you feel safe, your anxiety levels will also be reduced and you will be more courageous. 

Skydiving together with a friend also puts positive pressure on you. You do not only want to not disappoint your friend but you also want to talk with him about your experience later. Nothing would be worse than backing off and not being able to share your friend’s level of enthusiasm later. 

Acknowledge Your Fear Of Skydiving And The Fact That It Is Normal 

You should also acknowledge and label your fear before your jump. You can either speak them out loud or say them quietly in your mind. So you might say: “I am afraid that the parachute does not open and I am going to die on this skydive.” 

Labeling your own emotions has often two effects. You first will realize that you are not your emotions and that your emotions do not control you. This will bring some distance between yourself and your fear which will mitigate its effect on you. 

The second effect of labelling is that you will realize your own irrationality. You might even want to say something like “I am afraid that the parachute does not open and I am going to die on this skydive even though I know that only one in every 220,304 jumps go wrong.”

In addition, I would tell myself that it is ok and normal to be fearful. In this way, you will also accept the fear and stop fighting it which usually releases stress as well. 

Close Your Eyes When Going To The Edge Of The Airplane 

Another strategy is to close your eyes when going to the edge of the airplane. In this way, you do not have to look down and you will also not know when you will leave the airplane. Your tandem instructors also might put your head up so that you lean it on his shoulder. In this way you will not look down. 

Once you are in freefall you should definitely open your eyes in order to enjoy the scenery. 

Reduce Your Fears By Booking Spontaneously 

For many people going skydiving is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. They book their skydive weeks or even months in advance. While they might have a lot of joyful anticipation for their jump, the opposite might also happen. 

If you are very afraid of heights in general, your fear might also build up over time. You might constantly think about what can go wrong if you skydive and the longer you wait the harder it gets. This phenomenon is called “overthinking”. 

The less time you have to think about your skydive the less likely are you to back-off and the less fear you can build. 

I actually followed this strategy (and basically every other strategy of this list, because I was quite anxious as well).

A friend told me that he had always wanted to go skydiving but had always postponed it. As it had also been a dream of mine, we decided to do it together. We called the skydiving company nearby and they still had free capabilities the next day. So before we could even realize it ourselves, we went skydiving. 

Put The Skydiving Risks Into Perspective 

Statistically, skydiving is one of the safest sports in the world. Bringing this to your mind can help you reduce your anxiety levels. It might also help you to compare the risks of skydiving to other risks that you face in your daily life. For example, you are more likely 

  • to die in a car accident on your way to the dropzone 
  • to die due to a bee sting
  • to be killed by falling furniture 
  • or to be struck by lightning than to die during a skydive.

If you are still concerned about safety I have also written another article about skydiving safety. You can find the article here.

Last but not least, you are not the first person that is scared of heights and still performs a skydive successfully. If others have done it you can do it as well! 

So I hope you go skydiving soon, and enjoy your freefall.

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Kai Schmidt

Hi, I'm Kai. The first time I jumped out of an airplane and experienced free fall was one of the most amazing moments of my life. For me, skydiving does not only stand for freedom and independence but being present in the moment and being respectful to others and oneself. Now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.

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