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2019: The Year to Tackle Your Fears + Try New Things

01.04.19

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2019: The Year to Tackle Your Fears + Try New Things

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Pro Contributor

Fear: We all feel it sometimes. Fear is a natural and healthy response to unfamiliar or potentially dangerous situations, but sometimes it can hinder us from things we truly wish to do. When the fear part of the brain doesn't communicate well with the rest, you may feel like fear is holding you back and wish you could overcome it. Well, 2019 could be the year to make that happen!

What's something you've always dreamed of but been afraid to try? Climbing a mountain? Jumping out of a plane? Swimming with whale sharks? Tackling your fears is never easy, but it is possible and so worth it! Here are a few tips on facing what scares you, plus amazing adventures that require overcoming some common fears.

7 Steps to tackling your fear

1. Get Inspired

The fear corner of your brain needs convincing that the reward is greater than the risk, so psych it up! Remind yourself why you really want to overcome this fear and all the good things that will come of it. The adventure recommendations below might hold just the inspiration you need.

2. Set Goals

Once you're fully inspired, reel it in a bit and decide specific goals you want to accomplish—a particular skill to learn, a place to reach, a duration of time to hang in there, etc.

3. Start Small

Begin with baby steps! In the goals you set for yourself, make a tiered list in which the first ones are easily attainable, then lead up to bigger, but still reasonable, accomplishments.

4. Seek Instruction

In the case of outdoor activities, most fears can be alleviated by experienced aid. Start with instructional videos online, then look into professional services like clinics and guided trips.

5. Go with Friends

As you're working up to giving it a go, find one or more good friends who will go with you. These can be friends who share your fear and are also trying to overcome it, or friends who are already comfortable with it. What matters most is that they are patient, encouraging, and excited about the same activity you are.

6. Visualize

Just before you step up to finally face your fear, run through a simple mental exercise. Close your eyes and imagine exactly what the situation will be like and what you'll do. Maybe even move your arms and legs the ways they'll need to go. This rehearsal can help immensely when you're in the moment to let memory take over instead of anxiety.

7. Breathe

When you're there, staring down your fear, don't forget to breathe. Though it sounds simple, this is the most important thing when all your preparation comes down to one moment. Intentional breathing is crucial for keeping your mind and your body calm and strong.

These seven steps take time and dedication, but we promise that if you follow them properly you won't regret what you accomplish. Don't let fear hold you back from all the incredible adventures you could have. Here is a quick sample, organized according to common fears that you or someone you know might want to overcome.

Heights

If you don't like heights, you probably know several trails that give you the heebie-jeebies already. Though a familiar trail is the best place to start, here are a few more ideas for overcoming your fear. These are particularly beautiful hikes that provide some "exposure" but are popular and relatively safe.

Underwater Diving

It's perfectly normal to feel irked underwater. Humans don't naturally belong there. But thanks to skill, technology, and the ability to overcome our fears, we can explore incredible aquatic worlds. Here are some particularly stunning locations where you can try diving or snorkeling for the first time.

Whitewater Rapids

Few thrills match the fast, edge-of-control pace of running rapids, especially in a beautiful setting that a river offers the only way to see. You should never take on whitewater without proper guidance or experience, however. Here are some great introductory rivers where guiding and instruction are available.

Enclosed Spaces

Claustrophobia is a common and perfectly natural fear, but many of nature's most artful designs are in confined spaces. It would be a shame to miss out on water-sculpted cave formations, undulating zebra-striped canyons, and sunbeams through stone skylights. Here are some easy caving and canyoneering adventures to get excited about.

International Travel

For some of us, getting on a plane is a big deal. For others, setting foot in foreign country is what causes anxiety. Maybe it's simply the time and money commitment of traveling internationally that has you worried. No matter holds you back, we think seeing the world is an eye-opening journey too great to pass up. Here are some tourist-friendly destinations where fulfilling cultural and outdoor experiences are waiting for you.

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