Surfers. We get up before dawn, paddle out in the cold, break boards and sometimes bones and schedule our weeks around being able to do so. Are we addicted? It sounds like an exaggeration, but science tells us there is truth in surfing addiction and the sport has a powerful pull. If you’re turning down beers in the evening in exchange for dawnies, you could be addicted too. But why is surfing so addictive? Here’s 5 reasons why…
Many of us know that physical activity triggers the release of endorphins and surfing is no different. The so-called ‘feel-good’ chemicals not only boost your mood but can keep you focused too. Endorphins aren’t all, more closely related to addiction are dopamine and serotonin which control the brain’s pleasure and reward centers making you feel great and create the desire to keep coming back for more.
For beginners standing up for the first time can trigger the release of dopamine and so even after being bashed around by the swell all session, the craving to get back in the water emerges.
Surfing also offers a chance to be a part of a community with a common passion. Finding mates who are just as hooked on surfing as you not only pushes you to surf more but gives you an awesome reason to stick around. Many of us have found ocean activism through surfing and watersports too and the meaningful contribution that surfers make to protecting the ocean really can make waves. Just look at Surfer’s Against Sewage recent campaign to end sewage pollution in UK waterways, they mobilised thousands of surfers to take meaningful action including protests and lobbying.
Surfing also promotes mindfulness. Think about it – are you ever thinking about the list of tasks you have to do at home when you’re riding a wave? Being focused and at the moment can have a huge positive impact on mental wellbeing. This plus the added mental health benefits of exercise makes surfing an amazing mix of mental and physical therapy. Plus, there’s something pretty special about forming a connection with the ocean and spending time in nature.
It’s hard. Doesn’t sound so addicting, right? But the difficulty of surfing provides something appealing to the human condition – a personal challenge. There is no end to how far you can push yourself surfing, whether it’s catching more waves, catching bigger waves, improving your paddle strength in preparation for winter. Setting yourself goals and watching your skills improve in real-time is a feeling of accomplishment that’s hard to compete with.
Riding waves can teach important lessons that can serve you elsewhere in life. Surfers demonstrate extreme perseverance and have to overcome fears often and when you demonstrate this mental grit, it builds confidence. An appreciation and respect for nature are also often strengthened by surfing. Let’s face it, if you don’t respect the swell, it certainly won’t respect you. Surfing can be a grounding experience where you realise at that moment what is most important in life and adds a serious dose of perspective. Not just that, but the friends you make surfing can be friends for life. Say hello to group sessions, surf trips and car park catch ups.
So, surfing is addictive but we’ll keep feeding our habit. How about you?