Support Good Mental Health at College with a New Hobby
The Pink Helmet Posse, a group of six-year-old girls from California who practice their skills in their local skatepark, changed many people’s views of what a stereotypical skateboarder looks like. The group ollied and kickflipped their way into our hearts, and made us realize just how good it feels to learn a new hobby – and how fulfilling that hobby can be.
Skateboarding can be a wonderful form of exercise, but it’s also good for your mental health and growth, too. The Pink Helmet Posse feel empowered, which gives them the confidence they need to live day-to-day happy with who they are. It’s never too late to learn how to skateboard, and you can find inexpensive second-hand equipment. You just might find that skateboarding is the ultimate mental health break for you.
Skateboarding Relieves Stress
The stress of classes and coronavirus have been consuming you and your peers this fall. You probably feel like the “This is fine” meme, with the cartoon dog, sitting at a dining table in a burning room. That’s totally understandable. But unless you find a way to escape these stressors, it’s only going to compound and affect your overall health.
Skateboarding is a great avenue to relieve stresses and frustrations. The wind in your hair (under your helmet, of course), the focus required to stay up, and the freeing feeling of gliding along the pavement reduce your stress and relief frustrations.
Kyle, a graduate of the Western Connecticut State University, used skateboarding as a way to take study breaks and get outside. He bought an inexpensive skateboard to get started.
“I didn’t really like just taking walks, because I always had to walk to class, so it didn’t feel special,” he said. “On a skateboard, my breaks felt more worthwhile and meaningful to me, and I could go back to writing papers or reading textbooks and concentrate way better.”
Skateboarding Teaches You Patience
Very rarely do people hop on a skateboard for the first time and realize they’re absolute naturals who need no practice or instruction. It takes some work to learn how to stand up, balance, lean, and kick.
You can watch YouTube tutorials to develop your technique. Kyle, too, was self-taught.
“I started by standing on the skateboard in the grass to learn how to balance and lean without falling,” he said. “Then, I went down small, short slopes so I didn’t have to kick, so I could just focus on balance.”
It took him a couple of weeks to feel comfortable on the board and get over the underlying fear that he might fall off at any time. If he had given up in the first few crucial hours of learning, Kyle may never have known just how stress-relieving skateboarding can be.
Skateboarding Helps You “Get Over It”
New skateboarders are clumsy. They flail their arms, fall, watch as their board rolls away from them, and regularly find themselves fighting to maintain their balance. But don’t be embarrassed of that while you’re learning!
“It was really weird at first, because I was a fully-grown man trying to learn how to skateboard,” Kyle said. “There were little kids at the skatepark, going all over the place. They were going in and out of the bowl and grinding, and I was falling off and struggling to go down a little ramp.”
The key to his success, Kyle said, was just “getting over it.” He spent his energy concentrating on his body and the skateboard, not others around him.
“Don’t think about what other people think of you,” he said. “It isn’t about them. It’s about you and the skateboard.”
Why Not Try It?
After graduation, Kyle continues skateboarding for fun, even now that he’s working full-time in the information technology field. Even if it’s just skateboarding down his street and around the block, he does it because it brings him peace during the day.
“I know at first, my neighbors did a double-take because they didn’t expect an adult to go skateboarding down their street,” Kyle said. “It’s just fun.”
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