Professional surfer Alana is part of the Op Surf team, helping veterans use surfing as a tool for recovery. She came to Operation Surf UK as an instructor and shared four ways that surfing can support mental health.
- Surfing is a sport and thus a form of exercise. Exercise is known to improve sleep as well as produce endorphins in the brain leading to better mental health. In addition, as you become a better surfer, so does feelings of self-efficacy and a sense of achievement.
- Surfing has a profound ability to bring you into the present moment. In order to actually ride a wave, it forces you to become completely conscious of every movement and discernment of the ocean. While surfing, you enter the “flow” state of life, giving you respite from any trauma, stress, or anxiety.
- A unique culture has been created around surfing, including its own language, fashion, competition, and lifestyle. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals helps provide a sense of belonging and shared experience.
- The main component of surfing is the ocean. Interaction with nature tends to promote feelings of serenity and a belief in something that exists beyond oneself. The recognition that a wave is the ocean reminds us of the interconnectedness of everything on the planet.
Are you interested in learning surfing or taking up a sport as part of your recovery? Click here to get involved.