Sometimes I see divers who never seem to be under stress and / or fear. While most scuba diving enthusiasts are aware of danger, some of them ignore the fear and / or stress that the aquatic element can naturally cause.
When neglected, stress can represent a real accident factor in scuba diving.
Because of the lack of experience, the material, the conditions of diving (cold, depth, current …), from narcosis due to nitrogen, the time that passes (and the deco stops starting to appear), the sensation of pressure or proximity to certain animals, stress is an invisible enemy that can turn an incident into an accident with sometimes dramatic consequences.
Several decades ago, scuba diving was reserved for a specific public with a good physical condition. Today, diving is open to all and from a leisure perspective.
If we can really be happy, we must also be able to adapt the dive to the people who practice it. The issue of stress must therefore be taken seriously into account as it is one of the “human” factors responsible for serious dive accidents.
But why is stress such a danger ?
Leaving aside biochemical explanations and individual stress reactions, it seems to me necessary to understand that, depending on personality, personal characteristics, experiences or dive conditions, stress can cause a reaction in the body like panic disorder (in anxious or introverted persons for example) or euphoria (eg among extraverted or more impulsive divers). The panic and euphoria that can trigger erratic behavior of divers that may cause dive accidents.
Edmond (1995) gives us a table with the possible Causes – “stressors” – of panic or euphoria in diving
Can we prevent the effects of stress on diving ?
If it is relatively unpredictable and difficult to detect, however it is still possible to have an action on stress.
The first step is to be able to recognize and accept stress. Doing “as if everything was okay” is dangerous for oneself but also for your buddy.
It is quite normal and acceptable to feel stress in some particular situations in scuba diving.
The second step, in order to prevent (it is still better than to cure 😉), is to respect these few tips:
- Evolve slowly, at your own pace without giving in to the pressure of other divers who really do “fearless” dives and encourage you to follow them.
- Do not burn the steps
- Respecting your prerogatives
- Limit the depth
- Choosing Safe Diving Spots
- Regularly checking and maintaining equipment
- Carefully choose your diving buddy.
- Surround yourself with experienced divers when testing a new facet of diving
- Stay fit
- If necessary, engage in relaxation practices such as yoga, sophrology, mindfulness, …
DO NOT DIVE IF YOU DO NOT FEEL 100% OK !!!
This is probably the “number one” rule in scuba diving.
Nothing is more friendly and safe than a diver who can recognize that on this day, under these conditions, … he does not feel it and prefers to remain at the surface and help other divers. No doubt he will be at the top for the next dive.
Have I ever been stressed in diving ? Have I already given up diving because I did not feel it ? The answer is YES, of course 😉
Diving is and must remain a pleasure
Good bubbles to all … and do not forget to be happy 👌🏻
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Edmonds C., Lowry C., Pennefather J., Diving and Subaquatic Medicine, 3rd ed, Butterworth & Heinemann, Oxford, 1995.