11 Reasons Why Surfing is Good For Your Mental Health

When that first wave of water splashes on your face, all bad vibes just disappear in thin air. Surfing isn't just a sport but a great mental therapy in itself. Check out how a board and a few waves can improve your mental health.

Ocean is a big medicine for your mental and physical health. Nothing is more relaxing than riding some mellow swells on a beautiful sandy beach with turquoise waters. It's a great outdoor activity, especially when you feel like running away from that gigantic monster of stress. After just a few hours of surfing, your mind becomes fresh, and as a result, you become more productive.

The U.S. is facing an increase in mental health disorder cases. According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

“Approximately 20% of adults in the United States are estimated to live with mental health issues."

From battling insomnia to beating the blues or the fear of missing out on adventures, surfing is the ultimate fix. So, when stress hits hard, avoid hiding in the closet, forget self-doubt, grab a buddy and a board, and hit the beach for some chill vibes.

If you don’t believe us, read a few scientific facts (not too boring, of course!) to understand how surfing is beneficial for your mental health. 

What is Surf Therapy?

Around the globe, numerous institutes now provide surf therapy, a concept rapidly gaining popularity. As more people grapple with mental issues, surf therapy emerges as a powerful tool, aiding in the improvement of mental well-being and assisting individuals in returning to their normal lives.

Surf therapy is a mix of physical and mental exercises, providing a healthy break from daily stressors or PTSD. It applies surfing principles to enhance mental well-being.

Surf instructors are there to guide you through the challenges, ensuring you never feel alone and learn to bounce back from setbacks. Sessions take place in safe areas, reducing the chances of getting serious injuries. 

A study suggested that surf therapy (initially utilized by the U.S. Navy), brings less stress, more happiness, reduced depressive behavior and helps fight against PTSD symptoms.

1. Surfing Your Stress Away

It’s kinda like doing meditation in water every day. When you step foot in the water, leaving all the anger and frustrations behind, you begin to realize how beautiful life is. As you start to ride some waves, the stress level reduces automatically, and all your self-destructive thoughts are gone.

When you are surfing, the little happy ninjas called Endorphins (a hormone) start running all wild inside you. These stress and pain relievers help lower your anxiety levels. If you’re seeking a calming escape in a tranquil atmosphere, then surfing can be great for you. 

2. Time Management

How frequently do you hit that snooze button? Possibly as many times as you can. Surfers are often perceived as lazy slackers, but in reality, it's quite the opposite.

Waking up early before the sun, waiting for hours (conserving energy) to catch that perfect wave, paddling at high speed to be the first to ride, and understanding basic maneuvers require time and patience.

Surfing truly teaches you the value of time. If you fail to grab the opportunity, you have to wait a while to score the next good wave. Along with time assessment, Eventually, you also become an opportunist. You see a good opportunity, and you feel brave enough to go for it.

3. Connection With Nature

From YouTube videos to online buying, everyone has become addicted to the internet. Most people prefer staying indoors all day surfing on their cellphones, while others are caught up in their 9-5 jobs. That way, people are no longer connected to nature the way they should be.

Walking on a fine sandy beach, hearing the sound of waves, and watching the sunrise make you feel relaxed and connected to that natural world. Spending quality time in the ocean is not only great for your physical health but enhances your brain capabilities as well. 

The blue color of the ocean creates a peaceful aura around you. But, when you are surfing, you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. You gotta be active and quick if you want to enjoy a perfect ride. Don't get scared of minor cuts and bruises; and it’s a part of the sport. In the end, you come out stronger, smarter, braver, and ready for anything life throws at you.

4. Release of Serotonin and Happy Hormones

Do you feel stoked after a surfing session? It’s because your body creates these mood enhancers called Serotonin that reduce stress, control anxiety levels, and make you feel good and confident about yourself.

When you experience the joy of catching your first wave or completing a successful surfing session, your body releases dopamine, aka happy hormones, that makes you want to experience that pleasure over and over again. Mostly, it’s kind of like an addiction, but in a good way. It lights up the reward and pleasure zones in your head.

5. Reduced Depression and PTSD

When you look around yourself, you can see people suffering from different levels of mental stress and disorders. Someone who is not strong enough to take on the tough challenges of life might start carving suicidal thoughts inside.

Surf therapy was initially developed for Navy officers to treat their PTSD symptoms. The results observed were beyond exceptional. It’s scientifically proven that surfing enhances the production of all good hormones in our body and reduces depression immediately.

Without the use of drugs, PTSD patients can enjoy a good eight-hour sleep after a tiring day at the ocean. It creates a positive vibe and shifts focus away from problems. 

6. Enhances Social Skills 

Surfing lets you connect with some of the coolest people around. The community's warmth and the shared passion for the sport often create a supportive environment that encourages personal growth and social interaction. 

Speaking to different people helps you escape the isolation mode. It helps you to build trust and let go of the fears inside.

7. Mindfulness and Better Focus

Surfing is a sport that demands full attention and nurtures mindfulness in individuals. Your mind has to be fully alert to find the right wave at the right time and tackle it accordingly. Without worrying about the miseries of life, you gotta learn to stay in the moment, or else you’ll miss the chance to experience the most awesome moment of your life.

When you're surfing, your body and mind become one with the ocean. You enter that “flow” state where your mind goes quiet, and you’re just experiencing pure joy riding waves and appreciating the raw power of nature.

8. Getting the Vitamin You Need

Enjoying a surfing session on a sunny day and getting a good dose of natural sunlight helps your body make Vitamin D. Along with making your bones strong, it also acts as an antidepressant for your body. 

When depression can't find a place inside you, your good mood automatically bursts out. Think of Vitamin D as your body’s little helper, doing all sorts of good things like preventing bone softness, reducing chances of cancer, and lowering the rate of heart disease and rickets in children. So, catching waves not only gives you a good time but also makes you healthier from the inside out. 

9. Sleep like a Baby after Surfing

Surfing works better for sleep improvement than relying on alcohol to enjoy a good night's sleep. Outdoor activities, including surfing, push you to put your muscles to work. At the end of the session, your body feels exhausted, and you can see your bed calling to you with open arms.

A good workout session lets out adrenaline( the fight-or-flight response hormone), and your mind and body kinda feel ready to handle the action or just bail out

While surfing, your body also releases melatonin. It's the bossy hormone that manages your sleep schedule, making sure you snooze at the right times. Surfing helps you enjoy a deeper sleep.

10. Increased Resilience

When you deal with the unpredictable nature of waves and wipeouts but keep pushing to conquer the challenges, that stubborn determination is what builds up your resilience

Whether you ace that perfect wave or not, you're basically enhancing your ability to handle stuff, learn, and keep going when things get challenging. Surfing makes you a tougher and more patient person in and out of the water.

11. High Self Esteem

A surfer is faced with different challenges even in a small session, which is similar to their everyday life. Surfing can transform you into a stronger and more determined person. It involves overcoming obstacles, building skills, and gaining confidence. 

After falling several times, when you finally conquer that challenging wave, your self-esteem reaches its peak. You suddenly start feeling more proud of yourself and develop a sense of accomplishment.  

Conclusion

Surfing is the ultimate stress-beater, kinda like meditation but with more waves. You toss out anger and stress, and voila, your stress-o-meter takes a nosedive.

This therapy session with nature makes you tough, determined, confident, and patient. Surfing also enhances your problem-solving skills and makes you a better decision-maker.

A surfer knows what it feels like to handle tough situations and applies that learning to his real life. So, whenever you wanna hit that refresh button in your life, go surfing!

James Davis

Written by James Davis

I'm a true California local, and I've spent my life riding the waves along our stunning coastline. Surfing has always been my greatest love, and in my writing, I try to capture its genuine essence. My words aim to transport you into the heart of the surf culture, where the ocean and surfers come together in perfect harmony.

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