Virtually anyone who has surfed, and even those who haven’t, will likely be quick to agree that there
are health benefits to jumping on a board and riding the waves. It is, after all, a physical sport, which
means that your body is getting a serious workout. You very likely don’t need an explanation as to
why it is important to get physical exercise on a regular basis. So in this regard, surfing is already a
But there are benefits to surfing that go well beyond the physical realm. Surfing, as it turns out, is
also a great activity on a mental health level. Yes, surfers have a reputation for being laid back, or
otherwise chilled, but few tend to think deeply about why exactly this is. It turns out that surfing is
also deeply beneficial in terms of stress relief, mood improvement, and general mental focus.
In other words; surfing can be thought of as a form of meditation, given that they share qualities on
virtually every level.
What Happens When You Surf?
If you ask an onlooker what happens when a surfer gets on a board and tackles the ocean, they will
likely say an incredible act of physical agility. Of course, this is true, but there is so much more going
on than meets the eye. As with other physical activities that require deep focus and attention, the
act of surfing releases a cocktail of chemicals in the brain, namely oxytocin, endorphins and
dopamine. If you’re not familiar with brain chemistry, these are the happiness chemicals.
Stress is reduced, mood enormously improved, and general focus brought to a pinpoint. In other
words; surfing is akin to taking a mood-improving drug, only without the actual drugs. Most surfers
report that for them, surfing is the ultimate healthy addiction, and it doesn’t take much to
Reconnecting With Nature
The term ‘reconnecting with nature’ has become a cliché, and many tend to think of it as a bit of
esoteric nonsense. But surfer and author Sam Bleakley is quick to point out that there is a true,
rewarding sense of place in the world that comes from tackling the ocean. He points to the
stereotypical perception of surfers being laid back, anti-intellectuals, and declares that it simply isn’t
true. At least for the most part.
For him, being an obsessive surfer has taught him about emotional stability, respect for the world,
and a deep understanding of nature. He believes firmly that being a professional surfer has shaped
his personality on a fundamental level, and helped him achieve greater heights in all other aspects of
his life, including in his career.
He explains that far from surfing making him dopey and airheaded, it’s brutal lessons, taught via
scars and life-threatening situations, plus ultimate calm and satisfaction, have made him a truly well
rounded person on every level. In other words; his connection with nature, via surfing, has helped
him every step of the way through life.
Soothing The Soul
One of the primary reasons for meditation is to find not only calm, but also to banish brain fogging
anxiety and fears. Surfing, of course, is also an excellent way to conquer fears, and find true
fearlessness. Andrew Cotton is well known for tackling Nazaré, Portugal’s infamous big wave spot,
and has wowed onlookers with his cool, calm and collected attitude.
According to him, combining surfing and yoga is the ultimate psychological answer to being truly
fearless. He was quick to point out that although fear is a healthy emotion, it was not one that he
would allow to stop him from doing what he wanted in life.
Although, he also said, having confidence in yourself that you have prepared for facing your fears is
also important. Such as finding and honing the required mental stability out on the ocean.
So, as you can see, surfing is about a lot more than finding the perfect wave, it’s about finding inner
peace and centring yourself- on the board and in life.