Overcoming difficulties is a standard characteristic of human behaviour. Exactly because we are all humans, there is a perfect understanding of the constant challenges that lie ahead of us. Overcoming fears is probably one of our most important tasks once they affect our daily lives. The fear of water is such an intriguing task since it is potentially a life-threatening factor.
The three aspects of fear of water
Fear of water is a well-known phobia around the globe. A relevant study revealed that “fear of still water or weather events” had a prevalence of 2,3 % across all countries. What is probably not so well known, is that the condition is not the same for all cases, but has three different aspects:
Hydrophobia describes the fear of water that is developed in the later stage of Rabies. It's a serious situation that requires medical assistance from experts. Thalassophobia is a fear of deep water and refers to the fear of deep water, like the oceans. This is a quite common fear that is reinforced by myths like the Lochness Monster or movies that have to do with shark attacks. In a way, thalassophobia may apply to the whole global population. No one would feel fine swimming in the open sea of an ocean. And finally, we have aquaphobia, which is more of a social phobia. In this case, people feel a persistent fear of water, a fear that is irrational and not relevant to any physical predisposition or inclination. Therefore, when discussing how one can overcome the fear of water, we will concentrate solely on aquaphobia.
How to overcome the fear of water
I believe that most people have developed an irrational fear throughout their lives. Either it's the fear of meeting new people and escaping from our comfort zone or a fear of spiders or needles, such difficulties are common. So, this is the first approach for overcoming the fear of water: There is no need to feel that there is a defective manner to your mentality or that you have the finger pointed to you. We are all humans, and no human is perfect. What shall be the main point of interest, is that this is a perfectly manageable situation and that there are ways to get over it.
Then, there is the aspect of the fear of the new. Most people, when they deal with a new situation for which they don't have experience are naturally nervous. Think for example the first time that you rode a bicycle with no helping wheels or the first time you visited a new country. Didn't you feel a bit nervous? Weren't you insecure about how you would manage? Well, it's the same when talking about learning how to swim. No person on earth was born knowing everything.
Trust your swim instructor
The mental aspect of dealing with problems is the most crucial. We first have to confront problems mentally and then proceed to physical actions. Otherwise, chances are that we will not be successful in overcoming our problems, whatever these may be. In this sense, to overcome the fear of water you need to take two crucial steps:
- Begin swimming lessons
- Choose to learn from a swim teacher that could help you
Building trust relationships and talking openly about your concerns is another prerequisite for making progress. There's no embarrassment about any kind of fears. There's not a certain human model that we shall all follow. Every human being is unique. There is not a “magic formula” for solving problems and helping individuals. Of course, there is a general framework that all experts know, but it is not a “blind guide”. So, speak with your swim instructor, share your thoughts and consider the feedbacks you will take. Experience is invaluable and opening your perception gates to accept its fruitful consequences will only benefit you.
The aspect of safety
There's another significant issue to consider: Geography. Sometimes, geographers call Australia an “island continent”, a term that signifies the uniqueness of the country. People leaving in continental countries may not feel the urgency to learn how to swim. The only thing they could miss would be their inability to enjoy the pleasure of swimming if they visit a sea country for their holidays. But for the residents of Australia, the story is different. Here, overcoming the fear of water can be a matter of life or death. The latest National Drowning Report from Royal Life Saving (for the period from July 1st 2019 to June 30th 2020) showed that 248 people lost their lives to drowning and further 504 people were admitted to hospital after a non-fatal drowning. Sadly, the recent latest summer period was quite bad: One Australian has died by drowning almost every day until December 15th marking a huge spike from numbers for the same period one year before.
Steady steps for permanent solutions
Most problems in life can be solved. The key point is to take steady steps to achieve permanent solutions. Aquaphobia can cause further implications in the lives of people who suffer from it. From being unable to use anything that comes in contact with water to avoid bathing, it can crucially affect the daily lives of people. Again, we must all remember that there is not a single “magic” method that can apply to all with the same results. Different factors are affecting different individuals. Taking things slowly, trying to realise the origin of the fear and working with an experienced and trustful swim instructor who will guide you successfully, are essential milestones for overcoming the fear of water. And you should always remember: You are not alone in this!