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Mental Health Awareness Week 2016: Action Sports And The Mind

by Gina Duffy on May 17, 2016

By Ambassador, Georgia Goodman

Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 takes place from 16th-22th May and the theme for this year is relationships. 

Maintaining your mental health is just as important as keeping physically fit. Many people forget this because symptoms of poor mental health aren’t as noticeable as a physical injury. For example, a sprained ankle or constant stomach pains are far easier to identify as abnormal than worried thoughts, concentration difficulties, confusion and despair. 

It’s important for everyone to have relationships, whether they’re at work, home, school or while playing a sport. Social interactions are beneficial to our mental well-being and being part of a team is just one great way to build relationships with others. Action sports such as snowboarding, wakeboarding, surfing and many more offer a sense of community and this is highly valuable for improving and managing mental health. 

Working in a team can build personal confidence, determination and mental strength. Building relationships with friends gives you someone to trust, share your thoughts with and connect with at a personal level. 

It is just as important to maintain these relationships than it is to create them in the first place so whether it is going out for lunch with someone you haven’t seen in a while or simply just keeping in touch via social media is an easy way to ensure your friends are always nearby. 

If I can do it, you can too!

Learning a sport is a great way to focus your mind on something and have a hobby to look forward to. Taster sessions are often a great place to start and there is no pressure from anyone in your group. At my local indoor slope, they have regular taster lessons for beginners so you are in a group with people of the same ability. There also a number of community groups and associations that bring sports enthusiasts together, such as SheShreds. These are fantastic ways of meeting like-minded people in your area and to give you more opportunities to shred with new friends and have someone to go with when your own friends aren’t available. 

Something that worried me when I first started was being on my own, the feel of falling over time after time and not getting any good at it. However I have been attending sessions twice a month for the past 8 months and I can now land a few kickers and pipes and have confidence on my board but I’m yet to master 180s.

A good tip to remember when taking on any action sport, such as snowboarding, is to accept that there will be falling over involved and trying to avoid this will only knock your confidence and probably make you fall over more. 

There probably will be times when you’re not feeling motivated enough to get on your board or put on those skates but trying to look past this and to think about the adrenaline rush you get after will give you more of an incentive to get out there.

Georgia vs Mental Health

I’m Georgia, a snowboarder from the UK and one of the ambassadors here at SheShreds. The reason why I wanted to write this blog is because mental health is something that affects me personally. Having the opportunity to inspire and support others by describing my experience of taking on the challenge of snowboarding while struggling with mental health problems is something I’m passionate about.

As someone who has been struggling with mental health problems for some time, it was relieving to find a sport that was able to comfort me and provide a sense of escape from the problems I was facing in daily life. Snowboarding has given me a sense of control and allows me to give my full concentration to the sport rather than to my thoughts. There are some days where getting out of bed can be impossible for me and fatigue is a huge part of my condition that pulls me down but as soon as I get my feet in those bindings, I’m like a completely different person - I just feel free. 

Being part of the SheShreds crew and going to group sessions at the Snowdome has allowed me to feel part of a community rather than facing it alone. I can’t thank the girls enough for accepting me into their fantastic group of passionate shredders.

Grace Hiljus, one of our ambassadors is proud to say that sports has helped her during her own recovery. 

“I struggled with depression for many years and even went to therapy for it but I found that NOTHING helped me with it more than snowboarding and action sports. It got my mind off everything and helped me see the beauty in life. I am so lucky to have gotten over this disease and I never take any day or thing for granted.”

Tony Duffy also comments on his own personal experience. 

“I kind of think pretty much everyone has panic or anxiety disorder to some degree at some time in their lives. They just don't either identify it or talk about it. I was invincible and reckless till about 35. Then boom. Maybe you are supposed to have it to some degree to keep you "safe". I was incredibly reckless as a youth, then military, then crazier with the sports and motorized stuff. Maybe it is meant to keep me walking upright but it sure does suck sometimes. "Fate loves the Fearless" right? Well I just have to never mind the fear sometimes but it is there in all its magnificent terrorizing glory.”

During next week I’ll be fundraising at Impression and in my spare time for the Mental Health Foundation in the hope that they are able to support more people like me and continue to produce awesome support resources or counselling sessions for people that need them.   

You can follow my activities on Instagram @gxvrgia or on Twitter @gxvrgia. Are you taking part in this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week? I’d love to hear what you have been up to!


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