Can adventure sports alleviate anxiety?
Extreme sports aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but for those of us game enough to jump out of a plane, with a parachute of course, or scale a sheer rock face at an improbable height, that elated feeling when we safely touch down on flat earth again is hard to beat. Especially if we thought our physical limit was a power walk around the block.
So it should come as no surprise to learn that more and more psychologists who specialise in major anxiety disorders are talking up the benefits of adventure sports such as sky diving and white water rafting for clients who worry (link here to the anxiety tip sheet on the Australian Psychological Society’s website or to the piece in the SMH).
For starters, those who participate in such activities feel braver and more confident. Someone who’s conquered their personal equivalent of climbing Everest is more likely to show courage in other areas of their life. The need to be physically fit and strong is another bonus because anxious folk are then less likely to feel victimised, a common trait in worriers. There’s also the deep level of concentration these pursuits demand, as any rock climber focussed on finding that next foothold knows, keeping at bay any negative thoughts.
Not that people with anxiety disorders should replace therapeutic treatment with a death-defying hobby. Instead it’s combining the two that produces such positive results.
Interested in finding out more about strategies to overcome anxiety and worry? Why not consider signing up for our Happiness & Its Causes 2011 workshop Don’t worry – be happy! led by psychologist Dr Sarah Edelman, a specialist in the power of cognitive behaviour techniques to transform that self-defeating “I can’t” attitude into one of “can do”. Or join Dr Russ Harris in exploring The confidence gap – learn to overcome your fear, meet challenges and pursue your dreams using the scientifically proven approach of Acceptance and Commitment Training.