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November 15, 2023

‘Skydive therapy’ is the new activity helping Aussies conquer mental health struggles

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 12:11 am

Since turning 30, Brooke has found herself suffering from debilitating panic attacks.

While they started with regular symptoms like dizziness and a racing heart, over the past year, half of her panic attacks manifest as something called “migraine with aura”, which presents like a stroke. Her face goes numb on one side, her speech slurs and she get pins and needles in her arm.

The one thing she’s found that helps relieve her anxiety and panic attacks? Something called “skydive therapy”.

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New research from Adrenaline has found that 77 per cent of Aussies are seeking out adventure activities to cope with their worsening mental health, from skydiving and swimming with sharks to hiking and canyoning.

According to leading psychologist Dr Eric Brymer, “skydive therapy” is about using adventurous experiences to help move out of your comfort zone and truly live in the moment.

“Aussies who partake in adventure have reported feeling more capable than they’ve ever imagined, or believe they now see the world slightly differently,” says Brymer.

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Brooke canyoning in the Blue Mountains

Brooke couldn’t agree more: “I’m the best version of myself when I’m on an adventure.”

The 38-year-old Blue Mountains resident says that introducing more adventure activities and outdoor time into her daily life has had a noticeable effect on her mental health.

“When you’re about to abseil off a 50m waterfall, worrying about your mortgage payment is the last thing on your mind!,” she tells 9Honey.

“It’s a break from real life and all of the anxieties and worries that come from being an adult human.”

Though her anxiety has always been triggered by loud and crowded places (“think busy train stations, busy pubs, loud trucks or buses going past”), she says it got even worse after spending months in lockdown.

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“Getting outdoors always made sense to me,” she said, explaining, “it’s much quieter in nature than it is anywhere else.”

“I started with simple day hikes and wild swims, and I was soon going on multi-day hikes and trying new sports like skiing, canyoning, and kayaking.

“When I’m walking, all my fears and anxiety are lifted, and instead, I just focus on nature and the movement. It’s very freeing.”

Brooke took a 250km ski trip across an arctic plateau in Norway in minus 35 degrees, pulling a 50-kilo sled.

Adrenaline’s research found that adventure activities do have a deeper transformative effect on our mood.

Young people who undertook adrenaline-boosting activities reported long-lasting impacts on their happiness, self-confidence, and a sense of achievement as a result of undertaking adventures.

Dr Brymer says that it’s commonly accepted that physical activity and spending time outside is good for us. “However, it’s only now that people are starting to recognise the powerful impact of adventure on mental health and wellbeing, with participation rates growing far faster than traditional sports across the globe.”

By moving past fears, Dr Brymer says that “Aussies who partake in adventure have reported feeling more capable than they’ve ever imagined, or believe they now see the world slightly differently.”

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Point of view of a parachutist, at the airplane door, of another aircraft in mid-flight.

But if you’re not ready to jump out of a plane or swim with sharks just yet, there are more chilled-out ways to engage with skydive therapy.

“While big adventures and adrenaline-filled fun are so beneficial, you can also take steps to increase adventure in your daily life, too,” Brooke tells 9Honey.

“Get up early for sunrise, find a new sunset spot, or set yourself a challenge like swimming in the ocean pool every day for a month.”


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