Most medical professionals will recommend a range of lifestyle changes and quality of life improvements, coupled with psychotherapy, to achieve results.Consequently, we are looking at an ever-expanding spectrum of therapeutic behaviors that are wholeheartedly recommended to people with issues, and surfing is one of them. If you’ve been asking yourself why surfers are so chill, get ready to discover how surfing impacts mental health.
When you are depressed or anxious to the point of snapping, it is only natural that you yearn to close yourself in, spend time curled up in the apartment. However, exposing yourself to sensations can stimulate your brain to produce serotonin - the scent of the sea, all the nuances of a cloud-dotted sky, the feeling of cold water and ground beneath you.
There is something truly soothing about getting out of your tight shoes and stepping onto the sand or gravel. Walking barefoot over such stimulating surfaces is one of the well-known treatments for foot pain. Physical sensations, in general, are extremely helpful, but what renders the idea of surfing so appealing is the simplicity of it.
You are not forced to do anything, just a vague idea of an activity which you can learn on your own time in an environment that is calming by its very nature.
Now, since we’ve mentioned nature, it goes without saying that interaction with nature-made, ‘organic’ aspects of the surroundings contributes to the feeling of wellbeing.
We, humans, are instinctively attuned to feel more balanced and calm as we immerse ourselves into the broad natural landscapes and relish in the feast for the senses that it represents. Surfing is an amazing framework for interacting with nature. It is a scientifically proven fact.
Your initial reaction to partaking in activities that bear some sort of risk might be counter-intuitive - which is to say that you should avoid them. After all, shouldn’t depressed or anxious people avoid the added pressure of risky activities?
In some ways, this idea holds water, but as a generalization - it is a wrong assumption. In the case of physical activities with changing variables and obstacles, it almost certainly proves to be incredibly therapeutic.
It doesn’t matter which type of surfing you take up, the challenging environment of the activity requires commitment and a level of immersion that will keep you goal-oriented until you reach the next benchmark. Achieving palpable progress will fill you with unadulterated joy and resolve to push yourself further - which builds integrity in all the places that make you feel weak.
And the beauty of an activity such as bodysurfing is that there is always the next benchmark waiting around the corner.
Ultimately, surfing is a demanding physical activity. You’ve probably heard time and time again that embracing a regular workout schedule achieves amazing results in improving mood and outlook on life. You’ll notice that many articles of similar ilk recommend jogging and freeform running, but if you live near a wide beachside, why not take up surfing?
Once you learn the ropes, it offers just as broad a framework as running does, and all the physical hardship will change the activities in your hippocampus and amygdala, your body will pump dopamine and serotonin through our bloodstream and you’ll feel as stimulated as possible. All it takes is some ‘adaptation’ to physical excretion and, as it has been implied above, the rewards await just around the corner.
Without a doubt, getting the hang of surfing comes with a rather steep learning curve. A lot of trial and error awaits, but as it goes with all things worthy, the rewarding aspects of the activity rear their head as soon as you learn the basics.
There is an undeniable Zen quality to surfing, a sense of taming one facet of nature, becoming one with it and discovering inner equilibrium. The activity is a treasure trove of physical and cognitive benefits that keeps on giving as you roll along.
Bio: Nemanja Marinkoff is editor-in-chief and TheGearHunt and WalkJogRun. He's a marketing expert, and he's interested in all things related to basketball. He also loves marzipan, although his wife hates it. You can find him onTwitter.