Boarding For Balance: The Restorative Power of Paddle Boarding
Is there a science behind the SUP?
Can physical balance contribute to mental balance?
Why are Danish people SO happy?
Let's find out!
For Mental Health Awareness week here at Wave, alongside running promotional offers to gather donations for UK charity Mind, we also wanted to discuss some of the psychological benefits of our favourite sport: Paddle Boarding.
For those who feel well and truly embroiled in the throws of capitalism: constantly responding to emails, feeling like you're in a abusive relationship with your smartphone, wanting so badly to exercise but feeling too mentally drained to consider it, this post is for you.
In 2021 the indubitable connection between mind and body seems to be well recognised, but what if we told you that physical balance can directly contribute towards mental balance? Yep, that's right, you can effectively paddleboard your way to decompression, all whilst enjoying the summer sun on your neck.
First are foremost, physical activity is paramount in both releasing endorphins and lowering muscle tension. Whether we want to admit it or not, it is absolutely instrumental in alleviating mental strain.
The balance required in the body work on your boarding craft calls for the brain to engage in balancing too. The neurochemicals in your brain are balanced and *science moment* the pre-frontal cortex takes on its boss role of organising, strategising, judging and predicting. All of these executive neuro functions are paramount in developing your supping strategy, and they work as ample distraction from life's tribulations and office minutia.
We've heard the exercise is good for the mind thing countless times, which for the average Brit, conjures images of hobbling down a cobbled street in sodden lycra, which -shockingly- isn't everyone's idea of good fun. Paddle boarding on the other hand encourages socialisation, it encourages cooperation and above all it invites an appreciation of Mother Earth and her natural wonders.
Whilst supping can be challenging, the incentive behind working on your boarding craft is not fed by tabloid-fuelled toxicity or self-punishment masquerading as self-improvement. The goal here is not washboard abs or influencer fame, it is to rejoice in the outdoors, to engage in collaborative sport, and above all - to have fun.
"But why is paddle boarding so fun?" I hear you ask. I'll break it down into 2 key reasons:
1) It encourages 'play'. As a child, we utilise play as a route to understanding ourselves socially and understanding how to connect with others appropriately. However, as you enter the tremulous path of adulthood, play is sadly demoted to the lowest possible priority. Supping ignites the elements of play that force you to embrace your inner child - you're encouraged to fall, get back up, laugh at yourself and do so in tandem with your loved ones.
2) Proximity to water. Here we get onto the Danish question - why are Danes permanently intoxicated by this sense of hygge? It could be for many reasons - a functioning welfare state, a thriving economy, an unparalleled education system perhaps, but for the purposes of this post we will say it's the proximity to water.
Copenhagen is literally an island connected by rail bridge to Denmark's mainland - and what Epigenetic studies have revealed, is that proximity to water is a HUGE contributor towards general happiness. It helps us feel grounded, and ultimately - connected.
I know, bring on the clichés, we've seen this notion of connectedness plastered across more living room canvases than we can bear, but you should pay it some credence. Immersing oneself among nature's wonders can be the reminder you need that you are so much smaller than all of this, and that no matter how momentous life's problems may seem, there is still beauty to be found in the everyday.
So grab your board, reconnect with your inner child, and allow life's tribulations to evaporate with the surf.