I don’t know about you, but surfing has saved me so many times in my life. Surfing has helped ease the pain of a breakup, the hopelessness of crippling grief, and even helped me get clarity on some problem that needed to be solved. It helps me feel confidence and strength, humility and gratitude. Surfers know that surfing is healing but now the science is providing the official evidence.
An article in Stab magazine recently stated the following:
‘Surf Therapy’ is a direct response to the gaps in mental healthcare services that don’t resonate with everyone or offer the kind of support that is sometimes needed. Unlike checking yourself into a clinic, surfing is relatively approachable and free from stigma, which are often major barriers to seeking mental healthcare.
Unlike conventional therapy, surfing addresses holistic health through mental and physical exercise. In a recent study published in the Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, surfing’s therapeutic mechanisms were speculated to arise from the down-regulation of stress hormones, the release of mood-elevating neurotransmitters, the production of anti-inflammatory molecules, recalibration of circadian rhythm, reducing rumination and increasing feelings of competence, autonomy and connectedness to community and nature.
Let’s put it this way: If there was a pill that conferred all the beneficial effects of surfing, it would be the most widely prescribed drug there’s ever been.
Everyone in the world is touched by mental ill-health at some point in their life, either directly or through somebody they know and love. There is a need to normalise the conversations around mental health so it can be viewed with the same tabooless, respect-demanding, yarn-warranting intrigue as physical health problems like an Indonesian reef laceration.