When push comes to shove, we’re all chasing a common goal in our lives: Happiness. Unfortunately, that can be difficult to come by, especially for somebody suffering with mental health issues. According to the NHS, one in four adults and one in ten children suffer from mental health issues. These figures are astounding, but they can change. They can get better.
We can all do our part to improve the mental health of ourselves and the people around us, but most of use wouldn’t know where to start. Well, one trick that is scientifically-proven to improve mental health is physical activity.
Out & About
Studies have shown, time and time (and time and time and time) again, that physical and mental wellbeing are interlinked. Staying active can both prevent and rehabilitate depression and anxiety in a variety of ways, including occupying the mind, raising self-esteem and causing positive, mood-enhancing chemical changes in the brain.
Who’s ready for a bit of biochemistry? Don’t worry, I’m as clueless as the next golf blogger when it comes to science (aside from Marie Curie’s Swing Tips, of course), but this stuff is fairly basic. Exposure to sunlight triggers the release of a hormone called serotonin, which is known to boost moods and heighten calmness & focus. Low levels of serotonin are associated with low moods and risk of depression. I know we bemoan the British weather (we’re British; moaning is what we do!), but the fact is that getting outside regularly will boost your serotonin and, in turn, your mood.
Why Golf Specifically?
I’ve talked a lot about the relationship between mind and body, and there is no better sport for that combination than golf. Competitive golf demands focus and discipline of the mind in conjunction with mobility and athleticism. With that said, one of golf’s most attractive components is its accessibility; the ability for men, women & children of all ages and abilities to enjoy the game either competitively or leisurely. You set the intensity. You can set your own goals and enjoy your own achievements; raise your own self-esteem, or you can simply use it as an opportunity to escape the rest of the world.
Sure, golf is suitable for all types of people- that’s great- but it is also suitable for all types of personalities. Believe it or not, people who suffer from mental health issues are not just quiet, introverted people. Sometimes they’re the life and soul of the party, sometimes they’re the person in the big office; mental health can affect anybody. Golf can be solitary or social; independent or inclusive. You could head to the range or the pitch & putt or you could take to the course for a quick nine or even the full 18- And you can do it all alone with your thoughts. On the other hand, golf can simply be a vehicle through which you can socialise with new or existing friends. TopGolf and FootGolf offer unique golfing experiences that prioritise socialising over competition.
The Important Part
I’m not writing this as a marketing executive at a golf company, but rather as a person. If this inspires you to take up golf, great! If not, that’s fine. Because golf is just one of many activities that can help improve a person’s mental health. When all is said and done, that’s the important part. So please, do what you can for the mental health of yourself and the people around you.
All quotes are linked to full articles. Click the underlined text for more articles on mental health & wellbeing.
“You literally manage stress more efficiently when you are in a green space” – Professor Jenny Roe
“Mental health problems are a common human experience” – Mind (organisation)
Written by Joe Carabini