It was my birthday recently, I got a paddle board that I have dreamed of owning for over a year and for my birthday treat (yeah, you still do that when you are 28ish) I went paddle boarding at a local sports Loch. A Loch that I have also started open water swimming in (this is a whole other post in itself, I’ll get there). Had you asked me a few years ago that this is how I would be spending my birthday, or that I would ever want to get on a large body of water I would have laughed and quite possibly broke out into a cold sweat at the mere idea of it. I am not a fan of water and yet here I am. He very first time I tried it I shook so badly the board itself quivered in the water. My knees were, literally, knocking, my ankles were a vibrating with the terror than ran head to toe. But I really wanted to try it, I was genuinely at a point in my life that I was so done by being scared. So, I had asked Chris to come with me, he did, and he fell in first. I am ashamed to say I laughed. Partly because it was kind of funny, partly because I was teeming with nervousness and it had to come out as something (and we all know laughter is better than tears). But mostly I laughed as I knew that there was no way on this earth that I was falling in there too. Nothing that lives in water can get you when stay out of it (I have fallen in since then, but only because I managed to relax and realised that each time, I have got out alive). Now every time I go, I genuinely feel relaxed, my brain switches off from all the thoughts that I have rushing about day to day.
As many people know I am a runner, and I do run a lot. But I have never found the same relaxation in it that I have heard other people talk about it. Often times I have been frustrated with this, because for me, it isn’t a therapy per se. I don’t switch my Garmin off, unlace and feel like I have resolved a lot of the things that trouble me. I don’t find my mind clears with every mile, though I do wish it did. And if I am upset with someone or thing at the start of a workout, I may still be bothered by them at the end (maybe even more annoyed that I wasted a good workout with someone or thing that I didn’t like, bubbling away at the back of my mind).
There are many reasons why I have come to love paddle boarding so much, and most of all I think that it’s because finally I have found something that I can call my therapy. I love all the other sports that I do, but this is something else. People talk about how good exercise is for our mental health, but it’s only good if you find the exercise sport that’s good for you. Not everyone is a runner, or a swimmer or likes yoga, or (vitally) can afford to do a lot of the sports that are there. But there is something for all of us. I speak to many people in and out of the clinic who talk about trying to run (predominantly) and saying how it just isn’t for them, and that’s fine. Let me say this now, don’t let the thing that’s meant to relax you be the cause of any stress or worry. That’s not the solution, or sustainable, but finding what you like and don’t like is the key to starting.