For surfers around the globe, communing with nature comes with the territory. Surfers abide by the pull of the tides and the strength of the wind, and live for the next swell. Surfing is therapeutic and exhilarating while also challenging to the core, and chances are, surfers wouldn’t want it any other way.
In order to stay at the top of their game, surfers should strive to maintain that connection to nature in every aspect of their lives. Surfing can’t exist apart from the natural world, and neither can the athlete. Your mental and spiritual health are part of a larger picture, whether you’re about to drop down the face of a wave, or you’re mind surfing from the comfort of your living room.
That big picture is your individual holistic health: Mind, body, and spirit. According to the American Holistic Health Association, the ancient healthcare approach “considers the whole person and how he or she interacts with his or her environment.” As a surfer, you can support holistic health in various ways. Consider making health-oriented changes to your diet and being more mindful of your ecological impact, for starters.
Prioritize Physical and Mental Wellness
There’s no sport that’s quite like surfing. Unfortunately, life as a surfer can take quite a toll on one’s body over the long-term, and surfing injuries are often traumatic. Amateur and professional surfers alike are at risk of injury every time they take to the waves, ranging from lacerations and bruises to serious head trauma and concussions.
It’s important to note that surfing’s negative side effects can also involve mental health, alongside the physical. For instance, athletes from every imaginable discipline struggle with body image, and surfing is no exception. Whether it’s a practice, recreation, or competition day, they show a lot of skin, and it may feel as though their bodies are on display as much as their surfing skills.
As such, disordered eating is common within the surfing community, especially once one reaches elite and pro levels. If you’re concerned that you may have developed an eating disorder, rest assured that you’re not alone. Surfing world champion Carissa Moore, for instance, was able to overcome her eating disorder by taking full ownership of her health. A holistic approach to health allows you to do just that.
Finding confidence in your body involves mental clarity and a willingness to change negative thought patterns. Making healthier dietary choices couldn’t hurt, either.
Maintain Healthy Habits
When you’re concerned about your beach body and your athletic strength, it’s easy to fall for fads and potentially dangerous dietary trends. As you work to find the optimal diet for your health and energy needs, eschew fad diets for something that offers tangible results, backed up by science. Steer clear of diet regimens that offer promises of quick weight loss, as well as those calling for the elimination of particular food groups, or that involve pills or supplements.
That doesn’t mean that supplements are inherently dangerous and should be completely avoided, however. You should only take supplements and multivitamins under the advice and supervision of your healthcare provider, personal trainer, or coach. When used correctly, multivitamins may even help you to maintain a well-rounded diet by filling in existing nutritional gaps.
Surfing requires dexterity, endurance, and flexibility, and your dietary habits should support those traits. The good news is that adopting healthy eating habits is a relatively simple endeavor, no matter if you’re a beginner or an old wave-catching pro. To give your holistic health a boost, avoid processed foods. Better yet, make time to prepare more meals at home, using fresh and locally sourced ingredients, further connecting you to the natural world as you come full circle.
Reduce Your Environmental Footprint
Once your body and spirit are in tip-top shape in regards to whole-body health, turn your attention outward. Close your eyes for a moment and envision your favorite place to ride, from the color and clarity of the water to the smells in the air. Then, think of the myriad of ways in which your presence damages that beautiful environment.
Arguably surfing’s most notable downside, your environmental impact is significant and more wide-reaching than you may realize. Even if you live an eco-friendly lifestyle and would never dream of leaving trash on the beach, your presence in the ocean leaves plenty of pollutants behind. With a few notable exceptions, your beloved longboard was manufactured with various toxic materials. Even the residue from your sunscreen can leach into waterways, poisoning fish and degrading coral reefs.
Living a fully holistic lifestyle means that you must remain keenly aware of the ways that surfing harms the environment and your whole body. You must also be willing to do whatever it takes to maintain your healthy connection with the natural world, from the sand under your feet to the hot sun radiating from above. At its core, holistic health is an individual challenge, much like surfing itself, in a vast, interconnected natural world.