Title: Climb for your Mind
SEO title: A beginner’s guide to climbing: how bouldering can benefit mental health from anxiety to depression.
Author: Abi Purvis
Publication type: Lifestyle, wellbeing
//Strapline// According to Association of British Climbing Walls, “close to one million people climb independently each year”. Climbing must be doing something to make us feel good.
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I am by no means a pro, but an avid climber. I didn’t start bouldering for my wellbeing, however I quickly found that it helps me to combat my anxiety. Now I’m telling everyone, even you, go and Climb for your Mind.
To bring it back to basics; bouldering is climbing up a short wall using hand holds – there is a soft cushioned matting for you to land on. It’s soft enough that, if you fancy it, you could even take a nap there.
Bouldering is a form of climbing which I recommend starting with because it is the easiest form of climbing to get into. It doesn’t require any kit or a partner. It’s all about you.
Climbing for your Mind can offer you a target, a project and a lot of satisfaction. It’s your escapism from that ever growing to do list.
Each route (shown by the colour of the hand holds) is graded slightly differently, depending on its difficulty, so its welcoming to every beginner.
As you work your way up, you might find you get stumped by a certain move at its crux. Here you have to figuratively take a step back recalculate what you’re going to do and try again*
*This teaches you to rationalise and organise your own thoughts to help you try again. You can apply this to real life challenges.
When you finally get it, you’ll actually be pretty chuffed with yourself. When I find something suddenly clicks and the satisfaction of sending it totally overrides any feeling of anxiety I’ve had in the week.
Psychology Today say this is because problem solving “appears to be an effective buffer against debilitating anxiety”
Beth Thomas said for the BMC that, the more she climbed the better she felt; “mentally and physically”.
This is why Climb Alongside Mental Health are “dedicated to promoting the positive effects of rock climbing in helping with mental health”
Also, it’s a sport.
Health professionals are always banging on about how exercise is good for your mental wellbeing because it releases endorphins. Bouldering is the same.
I used to hate going to the gym because I found it a judgemental space. The bouldering gym, on the other hand, is full of the friendliest people. Everyone is always happy to have a chat and advise you on a route.
Bouldering, because of the rhythmic flow of moving yourself up a wall, allows you to become attuned to your body. You learn how resilient you are by moving through some complex movements, almost like a dance.
It strengthens all parts of your body; arms, core, legs, fingers, and most importantly this leads to the engagement between you and your mind.
NHS inform said, “Climbing clears your mind of outside worries and also builds your confidence and self-esteem, alleviating the symptoms of some mental health problems”. It’s worth a shot, right?
Go on, go and Climb for your Mind.
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Thanks for reading!
What sports do you do to help you look after your mental wellbeing?