When you mention sport to anyone, they will immediately think of health, fitness and competition. All of these are integral to any sport and all beneficial. But that is not to say that sports do not offer anything else. Increasingly, individuals are turning to the world of sport as a means of relaxation. Now, not all sports are adequate for this purpose – you’d be hard pushed to feel relaxed while in the boxing ring, for example – but there are plenty which are. As it happens, many sports are highly effective means of relaxation – and knowing which ones, and how to get involved in them, is useful for anyone seeking a little zen.
Get Your Surf On
There are huge psychological benefits to being by the water. Evolutionary psychologists believe that proximity to water is related to our need to hunt and fish. Whatever the underlying reason, being by the beach can be relaxing – as millions of package holiday customers every year know very well. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that surfing is often cited as a particularly relaxing sport. As long as you can swim, that is.
But getting into surfing can be stressful at first, long before it becomes a relaxing pastime. One good way to ease yourself into it is, to begin with, paddle-boarding. Stand up paddle boards are generally easier to use than traditional surfboards, and less likely to cause damage if you do fall off. Over time, you can then learn to surf with more and more confidence, until eventually, you can enjoy the relaxing sensation of being one with the waves. Forget the typical surfer boy image; this is a sport for anyone who likes to chill by the sea – or, rather, in the sea.
Swimming Your Way To A Calmer You
Surfing is not the only water-based sport which can profoundly relax you. Many swimmers would argue that their sport is also a great one for keeping the cortisol levels low. If you are at least an adequately skilled swimmer, this can be one of the most enjoyable ways to spend your time, and one of the easiest to fit into your schedule, too. Evidence suggests that regular swimming has a similar effect on the brain to routine meditation practices, so there is no doubt that this is one of the best things you can possibly do to increase and improve your own sense of calm.
Fore! Knocking Stress Out Of The Park
Maybe it’s something to do with having the freedom to swing your club as hard as you like. Or maybe it’s the setting: those luxurious and peaceful rolling valleys of green and brown. Whatever it is, there is one sport that comes out on top time and time again for its potential to relax you: golf.
Golf is a very old sport, and as is often the case with very old pastimes, it is a slow and considered game which has practically no element of rush whatsoever. This, of course, is hugely beneficial if you are hoping to get your chill on. Whether you’re at the driving range or on the golf course playing competitively, there is much to be said for hitting that small white ball out in the countryside. Those who play golf regularly will tell you that it almost works like magic, and indeed it can sometimes feel as though you are genuinely knocking stress out of the park with every swing. Even the level of competition at the golf course is usually lighthearted and easygoing, so everyone can feel relaxed while playing. And let’s not forget the joys of the so-called 19th hole: the bar, where you will usually finish up. Now there’s a stress relief method we all know well.
Climbing Out Of The Dark
Sometimes, the best way to get a little relaxed is to get involved in some kind of activity which is actually a little stressful to the nervous system. This might seem ironic, but if you think about it, it does actually make sense. For these kinds of activities, there is often a kind of focused, centered calm which comes into play – and that can be a viable breeding-ground for feelings of relaxation and peace.
Enter rock climbing. This sport, although definitely one to get the heart racing, is often said to be one of the most enjoyable relaxing sports out there. If you don’t believe it, it is worth having a go. You will probably be surprised by just how calming it can be – once you have got a knack for it, that is. Indoor climbing is the best way to feel calm, as you know you are genuinely safe no matter what.
So there you have it. If you are hoping to get rid of stress and feel more relaxed in your life, there is almost certainly a sport to help you do it.