Roller coasters are designed to scare people. However, sometimes the fear of riding a roller coaster is more about anxiety than excitement. If the fear is great, some people will simply forgo the ride and a potentially fun experience. According to a 2006 Forbes article, the fear of heights is one of the nine most common fears individuals face. Despite the prevalence of the fear, there are many ways that people can overcome the phobia and enjoy a roller coaster experience.
- Skill level:
Take a course. When people are afraid of roller coasters they are less likely to ride them, resulting in reduced business for theme parks. This is why some theme parks, such as Universal Studios, have begun offering courses to help riders overcome their fears. According to Eric Minton in his Psychology Today article "Thrills and Chills," coasterphobia classes can actually help fearful riders. Minton, a self-described acrophobia sufferer, took the class and proceeded to ride a roller coaster twice after the program ended.
Ignore the instinctual response. Part of Eric Minton's Coasterphobia Training included ignoring fear-based instincts when preparing for the ride. Class participants were taught to view the ride as fun and to question their fear by asking questions like "Do we think we can really pilot the car to a safe landing by gripping harder?" These questions helped the riders realise that their fear-based responses did not change their actual situation.
Prepare for the physical sensations. Another important aspect of the coasterphobia class was the training that participants had prior to riding such as tensing and un-tensing muscles to learn to relax. Other ways to induce roller coaster riding sensations are circling the head to create a feeling of dizziness, rocking back and forth and screaming out loud.
Consult a hypnotherapist. When classes are unavailable and self-techniques don't eliminate the fear, riders can also consider a hypnotherapist. A 2009 article in The Telegraph describes how one amusement park in Chessington, Surrey hired a hypnotherapist to assist fearful parents before rides. However, individuals should consult a hypnotherapist that specialises in these types of fears. Generally this information can be found on a hypnotherapist's website or by contacting them directly.
Face the fear. Ultimately the final test in overcoming a fear of riding a roller coaster is to ride one. An individual can start small by riding one of the lower, gentler roller coasters at a local theme park or fair. Repeating the ride can help build confidence to ride a larger roller coaster and then a larger one after that.
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