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Situational changes and SUP’s healing hand…

Pic: @soulconnectionyogauk

There’s no question: life as it currently stands is extremely tricky. Particularly in light of recent announcements regarding restrictions where you may live. COVID has certainly proved, and continues to, make once simple pleasures all the more hard. This, as has also been widely broadcast, does have an impact on well being and mental health.

At time of writing (Oct 13, 2020) further halts have been placed on situations in certain parts of the country. You can’t lead the life you once did. But hopefully this will revert back soon. In the meantime, as we understand, you can still go for your daily round of exercise. If you’re a stand up paddle boarder then this should be welcome and much needed.

We talked about SUP‘s positive impact on mental health before. With life as it stands there’s definitely an outlet needed to restore some sort of calm and balance. Paddling in the outdoors and simply taking a moment whilst afloat can do wonders and help reset the brain. Winter, of course, can be a harder season to get wet but where there’s a will there’s a way. And it’d be encouraged to make use of opportune windows that open. You can even paddle at night, as we talked about in this article, with the right preparation and planning.

It’s a proven fact that exercise, no matter how small an amount, will boost those positive endorphins in your brain. Simply walking briskly for 20 minutes can help immensely. And if you can walk then why not jog? It therefore stands to reason that stand up paddle boarding will have similar effects. So when you can grab your paddle and head off for a blast; you’ll be glad you did.

By the looks of things this winter’s going to be arduous in some ways. Yet hopefully there’ll be time for a SUP sesh at points which should be taken advantage of. Make sure you’re equipped with the right gear, such as a decent wetsuit, boots and gloves, and you’ll be sorted for blade action whatever the weather. If stand up paddle boarding can help you cope with what’s going on in the world, and you’re able to get wet, then do it. We appreciate mental health issues are different for everyone, but if you’re able grab those SUP sessions when you can.

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Mental health and stand up paddle boarding (and falling cows).

We’ve talked about mental health and SUP in previous articles. In the world we now live in, with post-COVID anxiety a real issue (just one example and cause), it’s never been more important to find a way to get respite and release. It mightn’t necessarily be stand up paddle boarding you use as your ‘tool’ of choice. It could be anything; going for a walk in the fresh air may serve to cleanse just as efficiently. But for a good many stand up paddle boarding does help those kerfuflled brains deal with life. (Of course, we appreciate there are levels of seriousness with mental health; some problems may need medical intervention).

Matt Loftus – a good friend of McConks, is a mental health specialist and paddlesports instructor. This blog post is a really interesting insight into exactly why SUP and paddlesports are beneficial for mental health. And it involves a falling cow, which always brightens up anyone’s day! Check it out here.

If you’re in the West Midlands and are looking for SUP instruction or an introduction SUP, contact Matt via his website, or via @outdooradventureman on Instagram.

There’s a lot of discussion surrounding the mental health of our children at the moment. Again, with a global pandemic having unsettled us all, the growth and stability of our children is one area of concern. Lack of social interaction, for instance, with friends of the same age group is deemed not being brilliant for kids. We’ve heard about a bunch of stand up paddle boarding initiatives to help with this. Kent Surf School – one example – are about to start offering socially distanced group paddles to help children enjoy a ‘real’ pastime as well as some company in their own age bracket.

And then there are the soothing benefits of surfing which charities have used to help counter such mental health conditions as PTSD. Encouraging feelings of joy is a positive way to manage moods and also encourage things like better sleep, which beneficial properties then knock on to all aspects of life. Stand up paddle boarding, as a distant cousin of surfing, can also help in similar ways. We quote from ‘There’s medical evidence that movement and physical effort are able to encourage metabolic processes to occur within the brain.’

We’ll reiterate again that we’re not suggesting SUP is the be all and end all cure for mental health problems. But we do believe it can help. If you’re having mental health issues we’d suggest you speak to a medical professional first. And when/if you can, get out for a float…

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SUP and anxiety struggles.

A true story.

As a young pup, pre-pubescence, a happy-go-lucky attitude is usually par for the course. Not always but usually. Running around – rather tearing about – without a care in the world. Just as it should be. Fast forward slightly to that time in life when hair starts sprouting from unusual places, anatomical morphing leads to unexpected sizing of muscular areas and mentally, hormonally everything changes into a whole new entity. At the same time those tiny chemical particles that inhabit your brain can also shift, in some cases being a little (to a lot) out of balance.

During teenage years our subject in question always knew there was something a little off, deep down. But as was the case back then, unlike now, no labels were available. Instead – at first subconsciously – that mildly odd feeling, which couldn’t quite be shook off, was termed: ‘doom feeling’. That suggests something bad might be impending but actually it was simply born of the musical and literacy interests of the subject.

Manifesting itself as only unease into twenty’s there wasn’t too much to be concerned by. Sunnier situations outweighing the dark were far more in abundance. Only every so often, as far as can be recalled, would the little black cloud move in to cast shadows. At this point it was often dismissed, our subject resorting to proven methods of blowing the clouds away. Most notably getting creative and using the ocean as a source of cleansing.

Unfortunately conditioning and onset of further aging can never really quell these feelings. Instead, alongside additional responsibility – a factor of life as we grow – the unease grows in tandem. At this point society began to recognise mental health challenges. Terms and descriptions have been doled out and it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about issues in public. Anxiety, which is what we’re referring to with this story, is a very real thing, as many will know.

To lesser or greater degrees this is what our subject deals with. Some days can be more severe than other periods. And there’s not really any trigger to put fingers upon. Life can be peachy; life can be hard; yet anxiety comes and goes with no discernible way of identifying the cause. What is true, however – certainly of this instance – is anxiety can often be seen trundling along mental health tracks in the distance, it’s final destination the subject’s mind.

Big life-changing events do nothing to help anyone with anxiety. In fact, these circumstances make it worse, exacerbating the experience. That once below the surface bubbling can emerge as something more. In this instance manifested as frustration and mild anger, especially when thinking about normally innocuous situations.

It’s long been communicated hobbies such as stand up paddle boarding – exercise in general – can help when dealing with anxiety – mental health problems in general. Buying in to the Zen-esque phrase: ‘leave all your problems ashore’ isn’t quite right as those problems still remain, even when you’re indulging in your chosen discipline. You never forget, even when out in the ocean. But paddling can serve as a release – sometimes. We say ‘sometimes’ as unfortunately SUP can make things worse. In the case of our subject, who searches for ‘conditions’, having studied at length weather info, swell data, wind patterns and tides and such. When the planets don’t align, which can be regularly, as let’s face it: Mother Nature isn’t exactly consistent, those frustrations mentioned above can be heightened.

Mental health is a discussion topic on many people’s lips currently. It’s certainly seen as less taboo than previous. How to deal with it personally, however, is very individualistic. Talking can help as well as knowing oneself intimately and recognising the signs. If others are aware they can also be on hand. And physical activity like stand up paddling, on the whole, is a release valve that can be put to good use mostly…

If you’re struggling talk to someone. Don’t suffer in silence.

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5 reasons why experiences make the best gift

Economic and behavioural science tells us that having an experience may actually make you more happy than buying the latest new gadget or pair of shoes. I know many aren’t convinced, but the science is seriously solid. Experiences are really where it’s at.

1. We Get More Excited About Future Experiences

It turns out that anticipation is a big component of how much gratification or pleasure we get.  A large scale psychological study (humorously called Waiting for Merlot in a nod to Beckett) confirms that the anticipation is part of the thrill, and actually, this excitement is greater for experiences than it is for material gifts. 

McConks has been part of two amazing experiences this year, one vicariously lived through our boards, and the other attended in person.

These experiences are rather out there, and admittedly most won’t be giving a gift of this value to a loved one.  But just in case you have enough cash burning a hole in your pocket, these experiences will really make the best gift!

So when it comes gift giving why are we so sceptical about giving experiences?  Why don’t we give more experiences overall? Why do we still buy deodorants, moisturisers and shaving foam that just stay in the bathroom cupboard until regifted.  Or another box of chocoloates for Gran, or socks for Grandad?  

The research on presents and enjoyment reveals something really interesting; we always believe that material things will make family and friends happier, even though when ranked side by side against experiences, experiences always rank higher for pleasure and happy memories.  What causes this collective amnesia of the positive feelings from experiences?  The cause is probably related to the media constantly reinforcing the message that the ‘Christmas experience’ involves unwrapping material gifts in front a roaring log fire. 

But we can’t blame it all on advertisers.  So what is the science behind this? And what are the best experiences? 

As a SUP company, you won’t be surprised to know that we think paddle and board sports are the very best experiences to give.  With experiences that range from being at one with nature in inspiring coastal environments, through to adrenalin fuelled whitewater surf fun, paddle sports have something for everyone. 

The links we’ve shared below are for some of our partners and friends, and companies that we guarantee will give your family and friends memories to treasure for ever.  And may even launch a lifetime’s passion in standup paddleboarding.  And with standup paddleboarding being such an accessible and social water sport, may create a whole new circle of close friends.

Tall ships and paddleboards

Your home for one week will be the elegant Tall Ship, the Lady of Avenel. For more information on the ship visit, 2019’s trip will start and end in Oban and will be full of exciting adventures, scenery and activites.

GoXperience the Croatian islands

Experience the Croatian Adriatic onboard a SeaGib 51 spacious yacht, pilotted by the master seaman Nathan, and with SUP instructors to guide you on unique adventures

Geplaatst door GoXperience op Vrijdag 12 oktober 2018

2. We Get More Value From Experiences Overall

Another study a couple of years ago compared how much pleasure people thought they would get after an experience gift and after a material gift, with the amount of pleasure they actually recorded.  The study found that the majority of people consistently think they will get more pleasure from material gifts than they actually experience, and they underestimate the amount of pleasure they will get from experience gifts.  This is called economic forecasting, and it turns out to be something that most people are really bad at.  But that shouldn’t surprise us given that the experts seem to struggle with it!Interestingly if people are asked which gives better value for money our of material gifts or experiences, they will choose material gifts.  If they are asked which will give more pleasure per pound spent, they choose experiences.  And the reason for this is because we typically underestimate the value of memories when we do our mental calculations of value. 

3. Experiences Give You More Social Connection

Experiences tend to happen in groups or pairs.  And we’re a social species.  Even the most introverted of people actually need community contact and social experiences, even if they sometimes find them uncomfortable.  And the vast majority of us get great pleasure out of the shared learning or shared experiences, especially if these shared experiences are with family, friends, or like minded people who become new friends. 

Studies also show that the best experience gifts keep on giving for many years.  The shared experiences become part of your shared history, and will be laughed over and retold many times in the future.  That story of how Uncle Pete fell off the paddleboard, and a seal popped up behind him to say hello.  And every time we told him to turn around to see, it disappeared again. Over and over.  (This is actually a true story and a family favourite!)

In fact, if you feel that you’re becoming distant from a close friend, it’s proven that buying them an experience gift that you can all share brings you back together.

4. Experiences Don’t Invite Competition Or Envy

A study from a few years ago suggests that the pleasure we get from receiving material gifts, especially at times like Christmas when gift giving is ubiquitous, is often tainted by comparison with the gifts others receive.   And even the pleasure you get from gift giving can be affected.  You thought you had bought Aunty Carol the perfect present, but yet again you sister has upped the stakes and beaten you again.

Experiences don’t suffer from the same direct comparison problems.  Everyone can enjoy them in their own way and their own time.

5. We Get Tired Of Gifts, But Value Memories

We’ve touched on this already, but one of the key reasons why people buy material gifts rather than experiences is because they think they last for longer and are therefore better value.  That new bird table will last much longer than the bird watching experience, therefore must give more pleasure.

But that’s categorically wrong.  Many studies have shown that we’re all subject to something called ‘the hedonic treadmill’ or ‘hedonic adaptation’.   Our happiness quickly returns to its normal state after receiving a new gift – the gift just becomes part of our ‘new normal’ and very quickly stops giving us pleasure.  An experience however generates memories and shared connections that last for much longer.  And a future conversation with a stranger about something entirely random can trigger that memory and release the pleasure hormones again.

For those of you still not convinced, maybe you can combine a material gift with a related experience: a bottle of wine from a local vineyard plus a vineyard trip; an authentic Indian Cookery lesson plus some Indian recipe books and spices; A birdwatching experience and a stuffed bird.  Ok, maybe not the last one, but you get the idea.

Having said all of that, the very, very best present you can buy is one that adds to or improves the pleasure your nearest and dearest gets from their experiences. So if you want the gift that keeps giving, then a McConks carbon SUP paddle is THE perfect present.  Or, if you’re feeling particularly generous then what could be a better than a McConks iSUP package?

1. We Get More Excited About Future Experiences