scuba mask

Building comfort with scuba mask skills with psychology

Are there any scuba diving skills you struggle with, or feel nervous about? It’s natural to find ways to try to avoid the anxiety, but moving away from an emotion tends to increase its hold, and can lead to blockages in the learning process. On the Psychology for Scuba Divers course, there is a place to reflect on what we need to learn effectively. One student recently used that space to pull together understanding of learning with lots of other aspects of the course (emotion, perception, beliefs) and discovered a way to put that awareness to practical use. She shared her observations on the discussion board in such a helpful way, I thought this was worth sharing more widely, as there will be many divers who can relate to feeling less than fully comfortable with scuba mask skills.

Barriers to learning … scuba mask skills

I find that when I am feeling anxious about something, such as learning a new skill or practising something that I am not so comfortable with, I can overthink things too much before I do the skill (e.g. all the things that could go wrong) which makes me feel anxious when doing the skill, and more likely to react if one of the things I have imagined then happens.

For example, I have never liked getting water on my face/in my eyes (even fresh water in the shower), so mask skills have always made me feel a bit anxious. I find that I can sometimes overthink things and build up to it, which can make me more anxious when I come to actually doing the skill. I know that I can do the mask skills as I’ve successfully done them in my courses, but I still have a feeling that I’m not good enough at them (and that others may think I’m not good at doing them), and even when I’ve successfully done them sometimes doubt that I’ve done them well enough.

In order to learn effectively in the future I know that I need to take time to step back, remind myself that I can do these things (and that others have similar struggles, I’m not the only person to experience these feelings), and keep calm. Having time to practice at my own pace is also helpful as I know this gives me the space I need to think things through and practice in my own time.

This course has been really helpful in giving me new ways to think about things I have struggled with and new ways to approach them, and I’ve already started putting them in to practice.

– Psychology for Scuba Divers Student comment on discussion board – during course

Overcoming barriers to learning

 I’m also really pleased to say that I’ve been practicing my mask skills using the knowledge I’ve learned from this course to try to change my mindset and reactions – using a scuba mask and snorkel in [safe, shallow, confined water], breaking it down into different parts (water in the mask, breathing underwater without a mask on) – and after only a few weeks I am now comfortable filling/clearing and removing/replacing/clearing my mask. Now excited to be able to get back in the water and practice these skills on my next dive!

– Psychology for Scuba Divers Student – a few weeks after the course

The course has been running for some time now, and so there are now lots of insightful, helpful comments from all of the students who have taken Psychology for Scuba Divers. It can be so helpful to read other divers stories and how they have dealt with experiences similar to yours. Sharing of experiences really helps to make sense of the wide range of knowledge that is covered in the course, to help divers make sense of why we do what we do. So while the course does not directly work with difficulties in your scuba skills (we recommend seeking a professional instructor for that), it can often generate your own awareness, which in turn helps you to see helpful courses of action.