PETALING JAYA: For many, scuba diving is an exciting sport that opens up an entire underwater world of corals, fish, and other interesting marine life.
In Malaysia, the marine life surrounding the islands of Redang and Sipadan is breathtaking, and have become popular hotspots for divers seeking a little adventure during the holiday season.
However, as much as some people are intrigued by this activity, their fear of water or feelings of anxiety when out in the open sea, hold them back from ever giving it a try.
That’s why four diving enthusiasts banded this January to form ‘Dive2Heal’. This unique programme combines scuba diving techniques and water therapy with the hope of easing a person’s fears and anxiety.
Interestingly enough, this programme is also beneficial for those suffering from depression and other mental health issues.
“As someone with bipolar disorder, diving has helped me cope with my fears and anxiety,” Arieffahmi Abd Razak, one of the founders and a former doctor, told FMT.
He added that when diving, there was no time to dwell on sad thoughts or fall into a depression as he was too preoccupied with his surroundings. The activity also helped cure his insomnia.
Apart from Arieffahmi, the other founders are Lutfi Rosli, Harits Zamrin and Shamsudin Mahadi.
According to him, some participants who were initially afraid of the water were able to overcome their fears under the guidance of the coaches. Others, like him, recorded better sleep after the pool sessions and open water dives.
FMT was recently invited to a training session on basic diving techniques at the PJ Palms Spring public pool. Each participant was equipped with a mask, regulator, lead weights, and diving fins.
Shamsudin, a retired Royal Malaysian Air Force colonel, was on hand to teach participants on how to use a regulator, a device to help them breathe while underwater for long periods.
After having mastered underwater breathing, they were taught how to recover their regulator in the event it was accidentally flung out of their mouth.
Shamsudin also taught participants how to cope with ear pressure while diving at the deepest end of the pool.
“Painful ear pressure occurs as water pressure increases when one goes deeper into the sea. Just remember to pinch your nose so the pain subsides.” he said.
He also stressed on the importance of looking out for one’s buddies while scuba diving. This included checking their oxygen levels as well as paying attention to the surroundings at all times.
He added that with so much to focus on while underwater, divers literally had no time to dwell on their problems.
What’s more, being aware of your surroundings at all times was important to maintain your safety and direction when scuba diving. Divers only have their sense of sight to rely on since all their other senses are compromised while underwater.
He also touched on the dangers of an anxiety attack while underwater and why keeping calm was important. “Anxiety and nervousness can affect your breathing, causing you to consume more oxygen than needed,” he said, adding that when oxygen levels dip to dangerous levels, divers must prepare for their ascent immediately.
Shamsudin observed that even shy or reserved people, including those who were afraid of water, usually registered a sense of excitement while scuba diving particularly when they chanced upon a beautiful coral or a turtle swimming past them.
Dive2Heal is currently focusing on leisure dives and PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) open water course certifications through its diving retreat programmes.
Surf Dive2Heal’s website or contact Arieffahmi at 012-448 1280 for more information.