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SKATEBOARDING

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There are a number of reasons why skateboarding would be great for your mental health... whether you're a new or experienced skater, it can play a major part in managing your mental health. Aside from its accessibility, skating has a meditative quality, offers long-term practice opportunities, challenges you both mentally + physically (you're constantly learning), allows for creative freedom, stimulates brain function called neuroplasticity, improves vestibular + proprioception senses, and that feeling on the board is like no other. Researchers have studied the correlation between skateboarding and mental health in recent years, one of them is a study by The Pullias Center for Higher Education at USC (February 2020) which found that skateboarding “improves mental health, fosters community, and encourages diversity and resilience.” Skateboarding contributes to the concept of mindfulness and It improves the executive brain functions for focus, planning, and self-control... encouraging skaters to develop their attention skills. 

High levels of concentration are needed to land a trick, any sort of distraction only increases the chances of injury or bailing from the trick. Skateboarding requires a lot of practice, as tricks are rarely achieved on the first try... which in turn builds determination and cultivates a positive attitude when one encounters challenges. Motivation comes from different sources depending on the skater, whatever those drivers are, it helps push you in your practice. I've learned several life lessons through skating so far and listed some more benefits below...
 

SKATEBOARDING + MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS

Helps to overcome your fears, an opportunity for creative problem-solving, teaches Resilience + patience, puts you in a Flow State, it improves empathy, skating is a mindful activity, provides safety + Inclusivity, and manages anxiety by keeping you present.  In terms of connection, skateboarding has the ability to connect people who would otherwise have little to nothing in common. It’s this human connection that’s often the most organic cure for mental health conditions like depression. People feel a sense of belonging through the skateboarding community in person and virtually.

As a person with C-PTSD healing from multiple traumas, skating became an essential practice in my mental health journey because of the benefits mentioned. Rolling around on my skateboard has been one of the most therapeutic things that I've ever done. I picked up skating with no expectations, just to learn something new and challenge myself... it has already given me so much more than that. I first noticed it within the first month of skating when I started to heal from my grief of losing my Dad. Previously, the grief put me in a state of reliving the erratic emotions surrounding the news of his death every day for over a year, it was extremely painful but skating brought me out of that mode completely. Skating has shown me a way to heal from grief, to be more self-aware so that I can learn about my traumas so that I can address them (through the different practices found on the MNSTR Method page), it taught me to be more present along with other life lessons. Since the beginning of these self-developments, I've been closely observing my practice and this self-study eventually led me to the creation of the MNSTR Skate Initiative. From my experience, skateboarding has been an effective healing tool and it can be used positively to manage our mental health when we have reached a certain level of self-awareness. 

Image by Szymon Ostrowski

While I was putting together this project, I watched a documentary called 'Push to Heal' about Hull Research Institute (Alberta, Canada) which has created a skateboarding program for youths and how they help to heal trauma through the neurosequential model of therapeutic care developed by Dr. Bruce Perry. Joel Pippus is a skater + counselor that has been leading that program. This documentary was shared with me by a friend (Thanks Maggie) and it has given me much insight on why skateboarding has been healing for me, it's something worthwhile to check out if you haven't already... hit up the link for the article share, Push to Heal.

I've observed similarities in the skateboarding practice with the meditation practice, Stoic philosophy, and Buddhism... what they have in common is that it's mainly about being in the present moment while having an open awareness of your environment. Philosophers and sages throughout the ages have advised people to practice present-moment attention and awareness. And that can be done by consciously letting go of our mental fixation on the past and the future, sharing this Buddhist text that illustrates just that: "Do not pursue the past. Do not lose yourself in the future. The past no longer is.The future has not yet come. Looking deeply at life as it is in the very here and now, the practitioner dwells in stability & freedom." (Bhaddekaratta Sutta). Skating requires and provides that present-moment attention and environmental awareness just like the aforementioned practices. I have been utilizing focus meditation sessions that have helped with better focus in my skating practice, I do that meditation every day and sometimes I do one in between a session like this 5-minute guided meditation below...

A  QUICK MINDFUL  PRACTICE  DURING  YOUR  SKATE  SESSION

A 5-minute guided meditation for mindfulness where it focuses on your breathing while having open awareness. You can use this meditation when you are taking a break during your session to recentre yourself whether you are frustrated from trick attempts or even if you're having a good session. It helps to do this mid-session or whenever you like really. I know that it has helped me. Skating is a mindful practice in its own right,  this is just to give your brain a little rest for a moment. For this practice, I retreat to a green space near my local and sit on the grass for this mentally restful moment.

That's my thoughts on skateboarding and the mental health connection. I'm grateful for this practice as I'm able to focus on something that I love doing, which I never had a chance to do anything of that sort due to the oppressive environment in my home growing up. I'm glad that it's part of my life now tho, I'm invested and taking better care of my mental + physical health so that I can skate for the rest of my life.   If you have any thoughts or questions about this page, feel free to  CONTACT me with the subject line: Skateboarding.

SOURCES:

Ruben Vee, Skateboarders HQ website<https://www.skateboardershq.com/why-skateboarding-is-good-for-mental-health>

LA Times <https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-02-26/skateboarding-improves-mental-health-helps-build-diverse-relationships-usc-study-says>

Divert Sessions Blog, June 3 2021 < https://www.divertsessions.com/blogs/news/exercise-and-mental-health-can-skateboarding-cure-depression>

Danny Kitchener, ADDitude website, August 31, 2020<https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-sports-skateboarding>

Free Movement Skateboarding, blog, April 16 2019 <https://www.freemovementskateboarding.com/2019/04/16/how-can-skateboarding-improve-brain-functioning-and-help-to-regulate-emotions>

Skateboarding for recovery, Healthy Life Recovery website 2023 <https://healthyliferecovery.com/staying-active-in-recovery/skateboarding>

Proprioception/Vestibular Senses & Why They Matter, Therapeutic Concepts Website, January 26, 2019<https://therapeuticconceptsllc.com/proprioception-vestibular-senses-and-why-they-matter>

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