According to a psychologist, why learning to surf can be good for your mental health

Nothing takes the mind off like going surfing. With the escapism and simplicity of surfing, it’s no secret that surfing feels good.

Now we have Preliminary study in children and teens adds to the growing evidence that surfing is really good for your mental health.

But you don’t have to be mentally ill to get the benefits. Here’s how you can use what we learn from our research to boost your mental health.

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How surfing is good for you

evidence appears Mental health benefits Who browse ranges from Improve self-esteem And Reducing social isolation To treat depression and others Mental illness.

These guides mainly come from specific Browsing therapy programs. They combine supportive surfing instruction with individual or group activities that promote psychosocial well-being.

In essence, most of these programs provide participants with the challenge of learning to surf the Internet Emotionally secure environment.

No benefits Mental health is thought to be created by:

  • An increased sense of social connection

  • A sense of accomplishment that people can transfer to other activities

  • A relief from the daily stressors due to the all-encompassing focus required when surfing the Internet

  • the physiological response When surfing, including reducing stress hormones and releasing mood-elevating neurotransmitters

  • exercise in natural environmentEspecially “blue spaces(on or near water).

Beach on the Victoria Surf Coast

Exercising in a natural setting, near water, is part of the appeal.
Distal milan/ocean minAnd Author introduced

Read more:
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What have we done

our Study pilot Aim to see if ocean mind The wave therapy program has improved the mental health of children and adolescents.

We also wanted to know if the participants accepted surfing as a way to address their mental health concerns.

The study involved 36 young adults, ages 8 to 18, who were seeking help with a mental health problem, such as anxiety or a neurodevelopmental disorder (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism spectrum disorder). Have been referred by a mental health provider, GP or school counsellor.

Participants were randomly assigned to the Ocean Mind surfing therapy program or placed on a waiting list. Those assigned to hover therapy continued their usual care, which included case management from a mental health provider. Those on the waiting list (the control group) also continued their usual care.

The wave therapy program lasted for two hours every weekend for six weeks. The youths were in a one-to-one partnership with A.J Community guide who received training in mental health literacy and surfing instruction.

Each session included supportive surf education and group mental health support, all of which took place on the beach. The sessions were moderated by a program coordinator who is also trained in mental health and surfing instruction.

An Ocean Mind participant holds a surfboard with his instructor on the beach
Young people participated in the program with a mentor.
Distal milan/ocean minAnd Author introduced

What we found

By the end of the six-week program, those receiving surf therapy had fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, and inattention, as well as fewer emotional and peer problems. This was compared with those in the control group, who had an increase in these symptoms.

However, no improvements persisted six weeks after the program ended.

Those receiving surf therapy also saw it as an appropriate and youth-friendly way to deal with symptoms of mental ill health. This was also supported by the high completion rates (87%), particularly when compared to other approaches to mental health treatment. For example, psychotherapy (talk therapy) has been reported to contain a 28-75% dropout rate For children and adolescents.

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It’s early days

These early results are promising. But since this was a pilot study, more research with larger numbers of participants is needed to confirm these findings and see if they generalize to wider populations.

We would like to determine the best dose of surf therapy in terms of session frequency, duration and program length.

We also need to understand the factors that maintain these initial positive changes in mental health, so that any benefits can be maintained after the program ends.

The recognition of surfing as a potentially effective and acceptable mental health treatment among young adults is also promising. But this finding does not preclude more traditional clinical treatments, such as talk therapy and medication, which may work better for some people.

Alternatively, surf therapy may be seen as an additional form of support alongside these methods or as an alternative for those who do not benefit from traditional methods.

Learn to surf on land, in a group

Surfers learn on land before heading to the ocean.
Distal milan/ocean minAnd Author introduced

Read more:
What can parents do about their teen’s mental health?

Do you tend to try surfing?

If you think surfing might be for you, remember:

  • Surfing requires complete concentration due to the ever-changing ocean conditions, which makes it a great way to get away from everyday life and eliminate the effects of stress.

  • For some people, surfing may lower the barriers to seeking mental health care

  • Surfing may not be for everyone, and it cannot guarantee a reduction in symptoms. Even the best surfers can suffer from depression and may need outside support

  • Don’t worry if you can’t get to the ocean or a surfboard. else nature based activitiesLike hiking and gardening, it can also benefit your mental health.

If this article raises issues for you, or if you are concerned about someone you know, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Children’s Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

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