SCUBA your Emotions

Have you ever lost your temper? Or said something in a moment of anger, which you later regretted? There’s nothing wrong with feeling strong emotions, yet there are plenty of negative emotions that we may wish to control. I am an avid scuba diver and it has recently occurred to me that the basic principles of diving can apply to life and be used to control negative feelings and unpleasant situations.

SCUBA was invented during the Second World War by Frenchman Jacques Cousteau, who called it the ‘Aqualung’. Scuba diving is swimming underwater using SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus). Using a cylinder of compressed gas to breathe (usually air, but sometimes other gases), scuba divers can stay underwater much longer than would be possible by just holding their breath. What if we could come up with our own SCUBA, a system to control our negative feelings and reactions and consequently stay calm longer?

Basic Principles of SCUBA applied to Life

Breathing The basic principle of scuba diving is to breathe compressed air with a special ‘demand’ valve, which allows air to flow only when you breathe in, so that you don’t inhale too much. Breathing is also an integral part of soothing the nerves and calming a stressful situation. When you feel yourself getting worked up, focus on your breathing. Breathe deeply and slowly to help reduce your heart rate and bring oxygen to the brain. Focusing on your breathing shifts your thoughts and allows you to remove the issue from the forefront of your mind, hence diluting the tension. The number of recommended deep breathes varies, but anything between 3 and 10 seems to work well for most people.

Pressure Pressure is one inevitable force a scuba diver needs to contend with. As you go deeper, pressure rises. As with diving, the deeper and more involved you are with a particular situation or person the more likely it is to affect you and cause stress levels to increase. Knowing how to plan a dive accounting for depth and time underwater is crucial. Similarly, knowing what tools to use to calm you down during anxious times is important. You could try concentrating on an object in the distance in order to remove the focus from your current emotions. Another idea is visualisation. Try to imagine relaxing images, songs, colours etc and concentrate on these instead of your current state.

Neutral Buoyancy Among the basic diving skills, mastering buoyancy is perhaps the most difficult. When a diver is neutrally buoyant, he can cruise around effortlessly. Eventually, buoyancy control becomes second nature to the diver. The same could happen to you. With practice, you can start to identify what triggers you and how you can calm yourself down in order to remain neutral. Remind yourself that you control your reactions. This feeling of weightlessness and being in control will be liberating.

Buddy System One of the golden rules is never to dive alone. In our lives, we should all have a go to person with whom we can discuss issues with. Talking with a friend, family member or coach can really help put things in perspective and keep you in check.

We all face potentially stressful situations every day. We also have the choice of how we react. With practice and discipline, you can learn how to diffuse tense moments and stay in control.

How do you SCUBA through stressful conditions? What works best for you?

Main photograph by the fantastic photographer Sara Peres.
Images provided by Flickr users VancityAllie, Dachalan and Moon Fish.

26 Responses to “SCUBA your Emotions”

  1. Camilla Gray says:

    I can honestly say that Scuba Diving is like therapy. I am an instructor and left the uk after having to deal with some really stressful issues. Diving to me is a form of relaxation, even if it is considered somewhat risky, no one talks to you, you have time to relax, feel weightless and look at all the stunning things. Imagine what you see above land can be so diverse and impressive, that can be seen underwater, only with the added bonus that really we are not meant to see it at all (according to evolution)

    • Camilla, Thanks for your great comments! I couldn't agree more. Diving a fantastic feeling. How wonderful it would be if we could somehow replicate that sense of awe and peace in our daily lives… I can't wait to go diving again 🙂

  2. Stefanie says:

    I love it…how true to life..if only it were that easy!

  3. Chery Nyreen says:

    Heya guys… Just found this blog from Google. Thanks for the good stuff and I’ll digg into the other posts now. Keep up the great work!

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