17 Mar Surfing as therapy
By the time you are hitting your 30’s or 40’s, chances are life has already thrown you some traumatic experiences, if you are one of the lucky ones you might have at least had to deal with some difficult times having an effect on your mental health. This might seem like a heavy way to start this post, but maybe this has been the road that led you to surfing?
Surfing is becoming a sought-after way of therapy. Surf therapy is being prescribed by doctors all over the world for all kinds of issues. It’s no surprise to me. Not everyone is made for the classic sit-on-the-couch-and-talk. But why exactly is surfing, over any sport, so therapeutic?
- It might be less intimidating than a classic therapeutic environment. You’re out in the elements, most likely with a group of others. The focus isn’t on you personally.
- It’s accessible for everyone. Whatever your age, gender, height, disabilities,… with the right support surfing can really be open to everyone.
- Surfing can be social, but doesn’t have to be. In surfing you’ll be respected for wanting a quiet solo surf, but at the same time other surfers will welcome a friendly chat or it can be the time for a laugh with your friends. You can decide what you need.
- The ocean doesn’t ask questions. Sometimes when recovering from something traumatic, certain conversations can really trigger emotions. It can be reassuring knowing that while you surf at least the ocean will leave you at peace for a while.
- Your concentration will be on everything around you, the ocean, the waves, the current, your board. It is truly a time of being ‘in the moment’, a type of mindfulness. A time where you can forget about your worries for a little while.
- Surfing is known to release serotonin from the brain. A chemical that is responsible for your mood. You only have to watch a surfer come out of a wave throwing shakes and smiles, to see the happy chemical in action.
- Your physical health improves with a knock on effect on your mental health. Like many other sports, surfing (and the laughs that go with it) will produce endorphins. The body’s natural pain relievers that can also boost your mood.
- Thanks to these amazing chemicals in the body, surfing is proven to improve confidence and self esteem, both big building blocks in recovery.
- Another amazing treat the body will give you: The release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. It’s responsible for feelings of reward & motivation. It will keep you coming back to the waves for more. The feeling of having achieved something, however small, will improve your mental health drastically.
- The overall effect of being out in the open air enjoying what our beautiful planet has to offer (for free!). Just like a walk in the woods is known to calm the mind, so is a dip in the salty ocean waves. Fresh salty air, wind, waves, sun, rain, … whatever the weather it will ‘blow away the cobwebs’. If not instantly lift your spirits, it will surely help you sleep better at night.
- Surfing can offer you a new focus and lifestyle, highly likely to improve your quality of life. Getting rid of unbalanced priorities in your life. Taking focus on what really makes you a happier person. Like many before you, it might end up changing your whole life.
There are many different organisations all over the world that offer surf therapy to different target groups. Of course, the therapeutic effects are still there whether you follow the official ‘therapy’ route or whether you decide to learn to surf elsewhere. We highly recommend you give it a try and hope to see you in the waves for years to come.