There are a plethora of skills that are associated with the sport scuba diving – familiarity with the equipment, above average swimming skills, speed, strength, and endurance. While the aforementioned skills are necessary for a successful diving experience, a skill that most never ponder upon is the ability to stay calm and avoid panic.
Every year, so many people set out to take up the exciting sport of diving with good intentions. Most scuba diving lessons begin at the local pool. The transition from the local swimming pool to the real and natural environment certified divers experience can prove harrowing for many. From feeling the pull of an undercurrent to having a strange creature brush against you, or even looking up and wondering if you lost your boat, diving in the natural environment can prove daunting for many.
If there is a sport calling for the ability to control anxiety and stay calm, it is scuba diving. Most scuba diving accidents are the direct result of nervousness and panic on the part of the diver.
Skills to Staying Calm While Scuba Diving
Staying calm is an essential skill and absolutely required for a sport such as scuba diving. Staying calm is vital for every aspect of diving. This includes calculating time and depth correctly, remedying a small problem such as a mask full of water, or coping up with a major emergency such as an injury or a lost partner. It’s especially important to stay calm when you see that odd creature with huge teeth headed your way.
Some people are naturally calm – they have the sort of personality that simply doesn’t panic, no matter what the circumstances are. For others, it is a skill that must be acquired. There are two important steps to learning how to relax and control one’s emotions.
Breathe Into Relaxation
The first is simply learning techniques for relaxation. Relaxation classes can be taught by themselves, or taught as part of yoga or meditation classes. It may prove helpful to try a variety of methods until you find the one that is right for you.
What all of the above have in common is that they teach one how to take control of their breathing as the initial way of relaxing the entire body. All relaxation classes work on the principle that where the mind leads, the body follows, and vice versa.
After mastering relaxation skills during a class, practicing these skills at home is easy. The initial requirement is a quiet and comfortable place. Ideally, you will need about 20 undisturbed minutes.
Find a comfortable position – either sitting or lying down – and focus on your breathing. As you become aware of your breathing, make a conscious effort to make your breath slower and deeper.
With each breath, inhale deeply, completely filling your lungs, pause for a second, and then slowly exhale.
As you do this, your breathing will slow, and this will have a profound effect on the rest of the body. As the breathing slows, so will the heart rate. The blood pressure will also drop and the muscles will relax.
Practicing this regularly will allow relaxation to become second nature – as a result, when you are in a stressful situation, you will be able to draw on a well-practiced technique to calm yourself down.
Visualize Your Calm
Another effective technique you can add is the second element – visualization. Visualization is a technique used by top class athletes all over the world. It works as follows:
First, perform the relaxation technique. Then, once you are very relaxed, visualize the skill you want to perform – clearing your mask, for example.
While breathing slowly and staying completely relaxed, visualize yourself calmly blowing air into the mask, gently lifting the edge of the mask to allow the water to escape, then calmly replacing the mask and continuing on with your dive.
The keys to visualization are: remaining relaxed throughout and always seeing yourself performing the task successfully.
By preparing yourself this way, when the actual circumstances arise, you will have a reprogrammed and most importantly preprogrammed response – and as for the example, you will automatically clear your mask quickly and easily.
Practice Makes Perfect
Of course, as with any activity, experience is another factor that will gradually help a diver to become more relaxed. By experiencing different conditions and diving with different partners in different locations, a diver will gradually acquire the skills and experience that make coping with potential problems much easier.
By practicing relaxation and visualization techniques, divers can increase their chances of staying calm and reacting appropriately when problems arise.
Because scuba diving is a physically taxing sport, proper nutrition is also important in order to provide divers the fuel they indeed require for relaxation. If it makes any sense, relaxation does require energy on its own. A diet rich in foods that are naturally rich in vitamins and minerals is a must. Instead of soda and sugary sport drinks, choose natural organic juices rich in natural liquid vitamins. While many may seek help from vitamin supplements, choose whole foods as they are the best option. The bottom line, whole food vitamins from natural sources serve a diver’s body and endurance well.