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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

4 ways to combat pre-dive stress

It doesn't matter whether you have been Scuba Diving for fifty years or only started last week, at some point in your life as a Diver you will or will have felt some nerves and stress before making a dive.  Maybe you are diving with new people, at a new dive site or different conditions that are a bit more difficult than you are used to.

Stress on a dive in small amounts is not always a bad thing but excessively, it can cause many problems and dangers, so here are 4 tips to combat that stress before you even get in the water.

Equipment

diver tries to prepare yellow dsmbThe best way to avoid stress over using new Dive Equipment is to have your own and to have dived with it many times.

However, there will always be times when you need to rent equipment or have upgraded your own and your kit is new. How can we manage nerves at these times.

There are many resorts around the world where the staff insist on setting up all your equipment for you and you simply get to the dive site or on the dive boat, put the equipment on and get in the water. I would recommend against this and set up the kit yourself. If you are diving it, this gives you the opportunity to check all the components prior to getting to the dive site. 

As you were taught from your first scuba lessons, put everything together, open the scuba cylinder and check  for any leaks and hissing.  The regulators should breathe easy with no fluctuations on the gauges and no funky smells or tastes to the air.

Check the inflator too. Inflate your BCD fully until the Over pressure release valve blows off, then check the deflator and any emergency pull dumps too.

This should help assuage any nerves regarding the diving equipment functionality

Dive Brief

Participate in the dive brief.

Your guide or instructor will go over the dive profile, what you are likely to see, points of interest and hazards, turn pressures and signals but if there is something you are unsure of, ask questions.

If you are diving with a buddy, discuss the dive plan together until you both are 100% sure of all aspects including separation and out of air scenarios. Divers that understand fully what to expect on a scuba dive tend to be more relaxed about it.

Communicate

Be ready to communicate with your buddy or guide. As professionals, we have certain signs that will indicate to us if you are nervous or stressed before a dive and while we try our best to detect such signs, the best way to let us know is to tell us.

A discussion can often reassure divers when they are nervous, reminding them of information they have forgotten but sometimes, when the stress cannot be reduced, it may be better for everyone to alter the dive plan and negate the nerves before they can cause a problem but communication is key to this.

Remember your pre-dive safety checks too. We recommend that you talk through your equipment with your buddy, so you know that they know how your equipment works in the event they need to help you underwater or at the surface.

Any Diver can Cancel Any Dive at Any Time

This is a firm rule that is applied ANY time, ANY where.

If for any reason you are not comfortable making a dive, ABORT it. Although there might be some disappointment, any diver worthy of being a buddy will be happier to cancel than have problems underwater. It isn't worth the risk to dive when you are not 100% sure you are ready and nobody will think any less of you for it.

Sometimes, just knowing you can abort at any time is enough to put a diver's mind at rest and ease those pre-dive nerves.