This post may contain triggers regarding anxiety and fears.
If you’re reading the title and thinking… what are you on about?
A fear of climbing hills?
Let me explain first.
I’m about to share one of my biggest fears when it comes to my anxiety. Now it’s not the actual hill that makes me feel anxious but the way my body feels when I climb them.
For example, my heart racing, the wind catching my breath as I get higher up the hill. The simplest way I can describe it is that my body goes into fight or flight mode. Once I start to get out of breath and it makes me think something is really wrong.
I love exercising and I realised my fear was only really coming out to play if I was climbing hills.
Madness I know.
In this post, I want to share where the fear came from, why I wanted to overcome it. Also the steps I took so that you can overcome a fear.
Like this post? Pin it for later!
Where did the fear come from?
Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to this fear. I remember when it started but I don’t know what triggered it.
I was climbing Tinto with my younger brother, he was 11 at the time, and my dad. It was a beautiful day in the spring of 2019 and we decided to take a family walk up Tinto.
I’ve climbed Tinto multiple times in primary and secondary and I made it to the top with no problems.
We started to walk and within half an hour, my brain went into a complete panic and it was telling me that if I climbed any higher, I was going to die.
Completely blindsided I stopped and sat down for ten minutes to get myself together. At the time I thought I must have been so unfit that my body couldn’t do it, but it was my mind that was holding me back.
Long story short, a few panic attacks later I headed back down to wait in the car and calm myself down whilst the rest of my family climbed to the top.
Ever since that day, I’ve never climbed a hill in the fear that the complete panic, horror and worry will come over my body again. I have lived in that fear for almost two years now.
Why did I decide to overcome my fear?
I have multiple reasons for wanting to overcome my fear but I would say the main reason that I wanted to overcome my fear was to progress on my journey of self-love and worth.
Over the last year, I have decided to challenge my anxiety at every corner to overcome it, accept it and understand it. I know that my anxiety will never disappear completely but have found that learning to live with it and working with my anxiety has made my life a whole lot easier.
Climbing a hill was on the top of my list of goals when I started therapy and throughout the whole time I was in therapy, I wasn’t able to do it. I tried but the same thing happened and I would return to the car and wait for everyone else.
Another reason I wanted to overcome my fear is because I am moving in a couple of weeks and I really wanted to tick it off my bucket list before I moved.
What it was like to overcome my fear
I wish I could tell you that I climbed the hill, not problems and it was the best day of my life.
It was one of the hardest mental challenges I’ve ever had to go through.
After a lot of thought, Lyle and I decided we would climb Pentland Ridge, it was a mixture of hills and also flat land so it wasn’t a constant incline. We packed a bag with extra jackets, fruit, water and we set off.
The first half-hour of the walk, I didn’t speak. I’ll be honest, I am a chatterbox I could talk for days, but I was in complete silence and didn’t even realise.
My brain went into overdrive.
After 45 minutes of a constant battle inside my head, I felt myself starting to ease. I started to enjoy myself and then I saw the steep incline that we had ahead of us.
I went back into panic mode. Looking up at the hill, I have never been so terrified in my life.
Lyle was amazing and walked with me at my pace and motivated me to climb the hill. Around halfway up, I broke down.
With my anxiety, my brain feels really foggy and after it, I find it really hard to remember things that I have done or felt. It’s almost like it’s the morning after I’ve had a heavy night on the booze, I can’t remember a thing.
I remember sitting on the hill crying because I couldn’t do it and I really wanted to give up.
Happy note, I didn’t give up and I pushed through the complete and utter terror that was going on inside my head and I made it to the top.
I’ve never been so terrified but happy at the same time. Overwhelmed with emotions, I got a quick few pictures so I could remember the moment and then I started to climb down.
Although people climb bigger hills every day, I’ve never felt so proud of myself having climbed this hill.
What steps did I take to overcome my fear?
I want this post to be an inspiration that you can overcome any fear and I thought I would share my tips along with my experience.
Don’t give up
If you try to get over your fear and it doesn’t work the first time or the hundredth time, don’t give up. Failure is not a bad thing. Adapting your mindset to understand that failure is how we learn and how you can better yourself for the next time you attempt it, was one of the biggest tips I can give.
Be in the best mental state you can be
I’m not saying you have to be the happiest person out there, but if you’re struggling with multiple aspects of your life, don’t push yourself too much to overcome a fear when you’re not ready.
It’s not a race and you have the time to mentally prepare. If you’re having an anxious day or week from just day to day life, sort that out first before you dive into your fears.
Create a support system
I couldn’t have climbed that hill without Lyle’s support and motivation. Although a fear may seem silly to you, believe me I know the feeling, allow yourself to open up about it. Accept the fear and you’ll be surprised how supportive your circle of friends and family are.
Think of the rewards
This is what really got me through actually climbing the hill. As my mind was in a constant battle with itself, all I tried to think about were the rewards from climbing the hill.
- I would be fitter from the exercise.
- I could write a blog post and share my experience and help other people.
- Ticking the goal off my bucket list.
- Honestly, just saying that I overcame my fear was the best reward I could have asked for.
Remember to think of the end goal, if you’re struggling remind yourself why you’re doing it and have that constantly playing over in your mind.
Do things your own way
If your fear is swimming, but a nose peg or goggles will help you, use them! Don’t make things even harder on yourself, if you have specific things that will help you in overcoming your fear, do them.
For example, I knew that I had to have the element of surprise. I let Lyle pick the hill, I didn’t want to know a single thing about it because then I would look into it and get myself into a mess before we even leave the house.
It’s your fear and you can choose how you overcome it.
Create a happy place
I learned this through therapy, but imagine your happy place and go there when you’re feeling anxious. It can literally be anything you want.
For example, when I was hill walking, my happy place was to think about going for a hot, almost burning, shower when I got home. I imagined the heat and the happiness I would feel going from feeling cold to being warm again and it really got me through it, even when it was hailstones.
Look after your body before hand
Even if your fear is not physical, look after your body before you start to look into overcoming your fears. For example, if you’re eating a lot of sugar, drinking large amounts of caffeine and alcohol, your body is in the position of feeling more anxious than usual because you’re not looking after it.
Although you have to be in the correct headspace, also look after your body.
How to overcome a fear
I can’t express the happiness I feel knowing that after two years of fear, I was able to overcome it. I was able to push past my anxiety and complete a hill.
Working on yourself takes time. It’s not race and failure is just a lesson to be learned and shouldn’t be viewed in such a negative light. Everyone fails at some point, and that’s okay.
No matter how silly you feel your fear may be, you’re not alone.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my post on how to overcome a fear. Let me know some of your fears in the comments!
Like this post? Pin it for later.