What are some mental health benefits of indoor or outdoor rock climbing? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Hazel Findlay, professional climber, mental training coach, on Quora:
5 mental health benefits of climbing:
Climbing is a very sociable sport because it’s difficult to do it alone. The problem solving nature of climbing also encourages interaction with others even if you’re bouldering. Humans are social animals and it’s important for us to have friends that we share meaningful experiences with.
Approaching climbing with a mastery mindset adds further health benefits. To try and master a skill like climbing can fill your life with purpose and meaning. Many people find that goals and ambition aids their mental health because it gives them direction. Many people suffering from depression note that their lives feel meaningless and they feel lost; learning and improving at something like climbing can be an antidote to that feeling.
Being outside in nature is calming and enjoyable. Natural beauty encourages the mind to be present with what is happening right now instead of wandering off to worry about what it might be doing in the future or should have done in the past. The sounds of cities and busy places can be oppressive and the natural world offers some respite from that.
Climbing can lead to flow state experiences. Flow state is the state you’re in when you’re completely present in the moment despite doing a challenging task. Everything falls away and you’re just there with the rock. These experiences leave you feeling exhilarated.
Climbing is an uncomfortable sport in the sense that it pushes people to leave their comfort zones. If approached in the correct way, learning how to respond to the stress of climbing can be incredibly empowering from a mental training perspective. If you can manage fear and stress in a climbing situation you can learn how to do the same thing in any stressful situation that might crop up, for example in a work environment. Understanding our emotional responses to certain situations and learning how to control them is a great tool for personal development and improving mental health.