By: Laura Walton
Lifestyle changes are hard! More nutritious diet? More movement in the day? We can know what we want to achieve, but getting there seems impossible at times. Changing our habits is really tough because we can often get stuck in negativity, wasting our energy on criticizing ourselves. However, as divers we know there is a different way. We can focus on the rewards! Scuba diving is all the motivation we need to stay physically fit and psychologically healthy.
Easier entries and exits
Being under the water is often a relaxing experience, but getting in and out can sometimes be rather more demanding! As divers we can benefit from developing strength and flexibility. Stronger arms are useful in carrying cylinders or lifting ourselves into the boat, and we can use strong legs for finning and climbing ladders. Donning and doffing our exposure suits can occasionally feel like an act of contortion, so being bendy can help. Whether it’s weight lifting, swimming or yoga: a little exercise between dive trips can make all the difference to enjoying our dive holiday.
Lower risk of injury
Research by dive safety organizations shows one of the most common contributors to accidents in scuba diving is poor cardiac health. Being overweight is also known to be a risk factor for decompression illness. We can increase our safety as divers simply through good diet and exercise. Both of which are more appealing if the reason is fitness for scuba diving.
Shiny new kit
Buying new scuba diving equipment is one of the most exciting parts of being a diver. There is no better motivator than the promise of new kit! Setting a goal for weight loss with the reward of a buying an exposure suit can make it much easier to stay on track. And, once the new suit arrives, we will keep up those lifestyle changes, or we won’t be able to use it!
Social contact and friendship is significantly correlated with emotional well-being and mental capability. In scuba diving we meet people and build relationships with our buddies, sometimes for life! We always have something to talk about because we share a passion for diving.
Feeling better about ourselves
Psychological well-being is influenced by our sense of purpose in life. Whether it is marine conservation, adventure and exploration or a passion for learning new things, scuba diving is an endless source of purpose. Our aims in diving can push us to develop new skills and discover knowledge.
It’s a challenge!
Realizing that we are capable of breathing underwater using specialist equipment is a boost to confidence for most of us. Rising to the challenge of scuba diving builds our competence in new skills, the result is a change in how we view ourselves.
There is a psychological secret to successful lifestyle changes: moving towards something we value is far more powerful than struggling to get rid of something we do not want. Whatever changes you want to make, scuba diving is the best reason to make them.
Dr Laura Walton is a Clinical Psychologist and PADI IDC Staff Instructor with a fascination for the psychology of diving. Visit scubapsyche to learn more about our behavior as divers.