Ask LH: How Can I Overcome My Fear Of Injury?

Dear Lifehacker, I have what I would consider an abnormal anxiety when it comes to injury. Even with sports I enjoy — namely snowboarding and skateboarding — I’m unable to push past the fear of even the smallest injury. It seems to be my mind unable to get past my fear of a loss of control.

I don’t want to go totally the other way and become completely oblivious to the dangers things pose. However, as I’m an anxious person to begin with, I need to find ways to address this crippling fear, as I can’t progress past even a basic level. Does Lifehacker have any tips on overcoming anxiety in this scenario? Thanks, Scaredy Cat

Picture by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Dear SC,

We ran a detailed post last year on how to overcome your worst fears, and many of the strategies discussed in that post apply to your scenario. In particular, you need to educate yourself about the risks involved and how to minimise them.

One seemingly obvious but very relevant point: make sure you have the right safety gear. A 2008 study of snowsport injuries in the Snowy Mountains suggests that 73 per cent of those hurt were not wearing any protective equipment. Get padded and helmeted up and there will be far less to fear.

Having pointed that out, my advice in this case is blunter: if your fear is already at such unpleasant levels, the chances of your actually enjoying the activity aren’t good. Snowboarding and skating aren’t essential life skills; you’re not going to lose your job or be a lesser contributor to society if you don’t take part. While there’s a lot to be said for attempting to face your fears, life is short and you have limited choices. Spending a lot of time forcing yourself into a scenario that terrifies you is not a particularly sensible idea.

Sometimes we have to accept that an activity we enjoy at a conceptual level just isn’t for us. This happened to me earlier this year when I got the chance to try out scuba diving. I wasn’t scared, but it turned out I was spectacularly incompetent. It’s possible that with repeated training I might be able to overcome some of the issues I experienced, but to my mind the effort involved would be better spent on an activity that (for me) is more obviously rewarding and enjoyable. I can’t recommend wallowing in self-loathing as I did when I wrote up the experience, but realising that some things are not for you is part of being human.


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