How to drop your fear of heights for good

We’ve all dealt with fear of heights at one point or another. Looking down at what looks like a mile high drop (even if it’s only 10 ft) and feeling paralyzed at the thought of falling.

But that isn’t necessarily fear of heights. We all possess an instinct that makes us wary of steep heights. After all, death can be imminent if we fall from high enough, so this instinct is normal and even necessary.

The fear it produces in us is simply the exhibition of that instinct and our natural reaction to keep us safe.

A phobia of heights (acrophobia) is an irrational fear of heights, even when one is not very high up. These tips are aimed toward those who deal with a rational fear of heights, but those with a phobia can certainly benefit as well.

 

Get up high

It might seem a bit counterintuitive to some, but getting up in high places is the number one way to combat the fear of heights. Why?

Let’s take a scientific approach.

The amygdala is the part of your brain which holds fear memories. It initiates a fight or flight response when you enter certain situations. However, if a new memory were to be created which contradicts the fear, that memory can override the amygdala and form a new response to the fear.

Therefore, steps to overcome the fear of heights are as follows. Go up to a moderately high (and safe) place, and let yourself be fully aware of how high you are. Once you realize you are not in danger, go up to an even higher place. Continue doing this — within reason —  until you are no longer afraid of being up high. The new memory in your brain — the one that says being up high isn’t so bad — will begin to override your amygdala response and calm you down.

Of course, I don’t condone being reckless and going up to dangerously high places just to recondition your brain. Likely instead you will become more afraid of heights this way.

The best practical way to fight your fear of heights is rock climbing.

It’s a completely safe(mostly) way to get up high and face the fear head on. You climb up a vertical wall (maybe steeper) sometimes 20 to 30 feet above the ground with the intention of getting as high as you can or reaching the top.

You are basically running straight at your fear and drop-kicking it in the face.

For some this will work wonders, but for others it may cause greater fear. If you’re thinking about doing this, do yourself a favor and ease into it slowly.

 

Baby steps

Like any fear, small but meaningful steps are very important when overcoming it.

When executing the steps above, do not simply jump to the last step. Don’t go up as high as you possibly can the first time. That big of a step will cause your amygdala to initiate your fight or flight response and you probably won’t want to try it again.

Here is another example of using baby steps to overcome fear.

When I was a kid, my family would always go to the shooting range. Growing up in the semi-rural south, this was a common pastime and hobby for many people.

I didn’t hate it, but I sure was scared of it at first. A 10-pound rifle that could knock my 80-pound butt to the ground at my own command — sounds like a nightmare.

That’s why I started on something smaller. Something I could handle. A little 20 gauge shotgun and a few pistols were much less intimidating to shoot — so I started there. Not long after, I began to realize that these big pieces of metal weren’t going to hurt me as long as I did it correctly. I was in control and once I became accustomed to that, my fear faded.

Before long, I had worked my way up to much more powerful weapons. I knew that — if I had started with these stronger guns — I probably would never have shot again.

Baby steps can go a long way over time.

5 healthy foods that you can stress eat without consequences

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably stress eaten something in your life and paid the annoying consequences. Ever eaten a whole tub of ice cream in one sitting?

Ya, me too.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Usually, stress eating is associated with weight gain because we are prone to eat super unhealthy foods when we’re stressed out. But what will happen if we begin to stress eat foods that taste good, are healthy, and lower our stress levels?

Good things. Good things will happen.

1. Asparagus

Studies have linked depression to a deficiency in folic acid, which is a form of Vitamin B-9. Guess what has a ton of this folic acid. That’s right, asparagus. Eat just two cups of this stuff and you’ll have your entire daily value plus some.

For those who are gagging right now because they don’t like asparagus, never fear. There are many ways to cook asparagus.

Most people eat it sautéed and dipped in their favorite dressing. This is my favorite method because it tastes less like a vegetable this way. If you don’t like that, you can fry it, chop it up, and put it in an omelet. Instead of trying to choke it down alone, it adds flavor to an already tasty omelet.

2. Blueberries

What? Blueberries? But I LOVE blueberries?!

Yes, yes you do.

And they also contain a horde of antioxidants and vitamin c which help reduces stress. Eat them with your lunch or spread blueberry jam on your toast. If I know the day is going to be a killer, I’ll throw a bunch of blueberries in my morning oatmeal to help me out.

3. Almonds

Ok. I LOVE almonds. Not only do they contain a ton of Vitamin B2 and E, but simply chomping on them is a stress reliever in itself. I can eat them completely plain because I like them so much, but most people can only do the salted ones. That’s okay too.

You can put them in your yogurt, eat them alone, or put almond butter on toast and eat it that way. All around a good choice.

4. Orange Juice

Have you ever gone to brunch and ordered anything other than orange juice?!

You probably have.

But I haven’t because I esteem orange juice that highly.

Yet another item packed with vitamin c, oranges can reduce stress by reducing your cortisol levels. I talk more about the hormone cortisol here. There are millions of ways to eat oranges. Keep it simple, and just have an orange on the side of your lunch, or — the best and most common way — drink orange juice with your breakfast.

5. Greek Yogurt

I’ll admit, I didn’t like Greek yogurt at first.

Although, that was probably because I first had it while sitting on the floor of a dorm room.

A number of great brands have popped up over the years. I like Chobani, personally, although it might drain your wallet if you’re not careful. Go with a cheaper brand if you’re low on dough.

I love yogurt because you can eat it for breakfast in the morning or for a late night snack. The high in protein yogurt stimulates neurotransmitters in your brain like dopamine. High levels of these transmitters make you more alertness and reduce stress.

 

Every food included here I see as a win-win. It tastes great and keeps my stress from skyrocketing. Find one here that you like, and if you hate all of these, try another high in protein foods like eggs or fish!

It turns out you can stress eat without the consequences, and even with some benefits:)

Let me know in the comments how you like these!

 

3 ways journaling can help your social anxiety

A few years ago I would never have tried journaling. I assumed it was just a girly or feminine way of talking to yourself. I wasn’t about to jeopardize my masculinity so I could write some lame feelings down in a diary. What could I possibly benefit from that?

Fast forward a few years, and now I’m a huge advocate for journaling.

Why?

Because I learned how much it can help with my social anxiety.

 

If you know me, you know I don’t talk much. There are many people who are the same, and it’s not from a lack of intelligence or spite towards people around them. Sometimes when presented with a social situation, a surfeit of emotion overwhelms me and I lose my words. All the sudden I have no idea how to interact with the other person. It’s frustrating. What journaling does is help me articulate my communication confidently, and in a way that is appropriate and effective for whatever situation I’m in. For example, you may want to say hello to a random passerby, but be too nervous about a number of things. Am I going to say hello correctly?(this sounds silly but it’s true) Should I keep walking after the hello? Should it be a hello, or more of a hey there? These are real concerns for many people. Thankfully, I’m going to show you some tips for how journaling can help alleviate this kind of discomfort.

1. Prioritize fears and problems

Whilst writing down things about your day, don’t shy away from discussing the negatives. Some fears and problems can often times be resolved by simply thinking about them. Journaling forces you to think about the problem enough to get it down on a piece of paper. We are all dealing with multiple problems at any given time. But some of them need more attention than others. For example, the fact that I am failing a class would be more important than the stain I need to get out of my shirt. When you’ve identified an important problem — my example is failing a class, make a list of things that can help you solve that problem! My list would look something like this.

  • Make more time to study
  • Go in for tutoring
  • Ask more questions in class

Again, you may not need to write everything down, but doing so forces your mind to work it out — and that is the goal.

2. Identify negative behaviors and promote positive ones

Sometimes in the mess of life, it is difficult to always be self-aware. Sometimes we will do things that hurt other people– and not even notice it. Writing down events from our day will help us identify negative and positive behaviors. But it doesn’t stop there. After you categorize your actions, make a point to focus on doing the positive things, and dropping the negative ones. By becoming more self-aware, you — in turn — become more confident in the actions that you do take.

Here is an example using the situation of the passerby.

You feel anxious greeting people as you guys walk by each other. In the journal, you can write something down like — ‘greeting people with a smile and a simple hello is a positive behavior’. Then as time goes on, you can make an effort to do this with everyone you pass by. This might sound odd, but eventually, you’ll get to the point where it won’t be so routine. You’ll be confident enough in your ‘social abilities’ to say whatever you want when you see a specific person. But the journal helps you identify some of these things so you can focus on them.

3. Reduce stress

This is the one you’ve probably heard of before. When I fought with my brothers, my parents would tell us to write down our feelings. Needless to say, I thought it was really dumb. The reason for this was because writing something down allows us to really think about it. Why am I feeling this way? How am I making this other person feel?

It’s sort of like self-awareness training. And it helps with social anxiety.

After realizing the issue — and writing it down — we create a stress-free mind that is able to process it with much more clarity.

If you tend to stress about many things, write them down.

All of them.

It might take a while, but you’ll quickly realize that things you once worried so intensely about now seem insignificant.

I would love to hear how these tips work for you. Let me know in the comments!