Kitesurfing and anxiety are normally related to each other within a negative context. Many perceive the sport as a catalyst to an anxious state of mind. How about if I told you the opposite? Let’s flip the coin and talk about kitesurfing as an antidote to anxiety.
As a person who suffered from panic disorder for a number of years, I would like to share my story on how I’ve worked on overcoming it. You may first want to look at my previous blog to get an insight on how kitesurfing changed my way of life.
My first anxiety attack happened seven years ago. I rushed to the closest clinic in a frenzy while managing to convince myself that I was suffocating. Although I was coached to take deep breaths, I gasped for air like a fish out of water. After this episode came many others, spreading over weeks and months.
Clammy hands, followed by an increased heart rate and a sensation that the Burning Man annual gathering was happening inside my head were common experiences. The disorder progressed and with it, my inability to have control over my thoughts. During the attacks I deemed myself dysfunctional, and entered a consuming “fight or flight” mode of psychological survival.
When the attacks became more frequent I decided to begin taking medication. I was on daily treatment for a couple years, following a couple more where I kept “chill pills” on standby in cases of emergency.
It wasn’t until I started kitesurfing that I learned how to live in the present, control my thoughts and counteract the disorder in a healthy way.
Kitesurfing and Anxiety: The Way Out
Living in the present while kitesurfing in the elements changed my perspective on life. My worries of the future melted away as I put all of my energy into riding a wave, landing a jump, or getting out of a tricky situation. My mind became activated by living that moment, and this soon unraveled into my life philosophy.
Being present and appreciating every situation for what it is transformed into my daily mantra.
I learned to control circumstances of panic while gaining control over my thoughts. I transposed these teachings to my general life. When I’d feel the darkness of a panic attack coming close, I would take deep breaths and guide my thoughts away from the impending doom.
The concept of kitesurfing and anxiety changed within my psyche, where kitesurfing became my coach for coping with anxious states. It taught me that I shouldn’t avoid situations of panic, but rather teach myself how to master my thoughts. I have learned how to live out of my comfort zone, trust myself to solve problems and be present in the moment.
Does kitesurfing cause you anxiety? How about we change this ideology and view it as a tool for challenging ourselves to manage our thoughts?
If you have experienced acute anxiety and need some coping strategies feel free to send me a message. It always helped me to talk to someone who understood what I was experiencing.