Riding horses is good for my anxiety. It lets me expose myself to things a little bit scary in a relatively safe way. Also, you really MUST be calm around horses, so you have to regulate your physiology.
I’m not afraid of falling off (very much) because I have fallen off and it was ok. (N.B.: always wear a helmet! always!) Falling off sucks intensely for a relatively small number of seconds, but within a few minutes I’m back on again. I have been lucky not to be injured, and also I fall off less these days. Mostly when you fall off you’re not seriously hurt. When the consequences would be worse (such as you would fall on rocks or off a cliff or something), then ride more conservatively. My mom’s worried I’ll end up like Christopher Reeve but I can’t think about that; also I take reasonable safety precautions.
But I also feel free to try new things because falling off isn’t that bad, even the nastiest fall I had that scared me and the teacher. My teachers can coach me through a hairy situation and they calibrate challenges to my skill level. They wouldn’t ask me to do something that they honestly thought I couldn’t do. Yet also I know that I can always say no and refuse to try the thing they asked. So therefore I always say yes and try it! It helps that I don’t care if I look really dumb. There’s not much room for worry on a horse: you just have to ignore your anxiety and breathe through it, so as not to rile up the prey beastie or just make yourself tight and everything harder.
Of course, there’s also the part that riding is extremely fun, and I enjoy learning new skills and getting more competent, which will never happen if you don’t stretch yourself.
#2 adds: The helmet is so important to this metaphor. Calculated risks, measured risks, these help us grow without killing us!
Do you do things that scare you? What is your helmet?