As scuba instructor as well as mental trainer and coach I recognized, that many things that are important in diving also help us in our daily life to stay physically and mentally in good health. Diving definitely strengthens our ability for resilience and influences your live, health and mood in a very positive way.
Wanna know the positive “side effects” of diving? Here they are. Scuba diving makes you:
1. Learn to trust: Your buddy is your life insurance under water. If your equipment has a technical defect or youself get into troubles, your buddy will be there to help you. Of course, therefor it is necessary that she or he is nearby. From psychology we know that even above the survace, in our daily life, other people are our most important „ressource“. Our friends and families give us hope, support, catch us if we struggle, and give us emotional feeding when we are blue.
2. Develope competence to solve problems: An important rule in diving is: if a problem occurs – stop – think – act. We know from stress research that under stress the old part of our brain, the so called reptilian brain, takes over control. Complex thinking, and solution orientated thinking is complex, is no more possible then. Adrenalin and Noradrenalin are floating through our body, cortisol rises as well as pulse and blood pressure. The whole body is under tension and ready to flee. If we reach this stadium under water it can have fatal consequences. Therefor we learn in our scuba courses by visualization, repetition and simulation exercises how we have to react in case of emergency. The more we train that, the more the way of acting right will become a “highway” in our brain, meaning it is a standard behavior for us like driving a car after 15 years of experience.
3. Relax quickly: Our lives are more and more stressy. Being stressed we just breathe flat and you can see the tension of the body. Also divers do this in stressy situations. Breathing in the right way helps you getting back the control over your body and your mind. That is also a reason (not the only one) why we learn in our scuba courses to breath deeply and slowly. Better than every biofeedback measurement can show you on a monitor you find out immediately if you breath correctly when you do scuba. Relaxed breathing also decreases blood pressure and pulse, enriches your blood with oxygen and your brain has the energy to work well. So clear thoughts are possible again and you will be able to solve your problem. There are really good apps available even for free to train your breath which also helps you in your normal life.
4. Sharpen your senses: To decide wether you are fit for diving or it is necessary to recognize your feelings and physical well-being. If you don´t feel good – don´t dive, it is too risky. Even if you don´t know the reason why you feel what you feel. Trust in your intuition and your body. You need to know your personal limits which may vary from day to day. People who have “Burn-Out” in an advanced stadium are no more able to feel any emotions and even not their body, and we all know what really dramatic consequences can occur.
5. Be present in the moment and feel the flow: Many divers say, that they are completely present and alive during the dive and some even reach a stadium which experts call “flow” which feels like being high (in a positive way). This means that they are highly concentrated, lost in time, full of euphoria and happiness and everything goes easily. Heartbeat, pulse and breathing are completely synchronously. There is no time to think about the past, the future, problems or sorrows. This is a moment of “just be”.
6. Live in mindfulness: Doing scuba we don´t use GPS or a navigation system like when we are driving a car. We have a compass but still we focus on natural navigation. We have an eye at our buddy, check the current, look at the finimeter, the diving computer to control air, depths and time. We call it mindfulness if we focus on one special thing. It also describes the way how we observe. Normally we don´t just observe, we also judge in the same moment. A flower – beautiful. A spider – aaargh! And normally people mostly judge more often negative than positive which influences the way they see the world and feel. The most important rule when you exercise mindfulness is to just observe and not to judge! For divers this is easy. We are often speechless by the beauty of diving and discovering this wonderful underwater world. But in our daily routine even we can look a little bit more on the bright side of life.
7. Recognize the danger: Doing scuba we are in an environment our body is not appropriated for. It is obvious that the edge to feel in danger is nearer than normal. We have to differ two kinds of fear. The first one is the fear with a concrete reason, e.g. if we dive with unadequate equipment, too less experience or with a crazy and unreliable buddy. This fear you can handle very easily in advance by doing good preparation and risk management or – don´t go diving. To handle the second kind of fear – the non-definable fear, where you can´t name the reason for it- is more tricky. This fear can occur from one moment to another and lead into a panic attack as the worst case. The best way here is to work on your self confidence and mindfulness in advance. Recognizing the first alarm signals. It also helps to do your deep breathing to keep control over the situation. It might also help to make same visualisation exercises. Don´t ignore the fear, that only get´s you deeper into troubles. Fear is good, it is your personal alarm lamp (like in your car) that makes you more sensitive, sharpens your attention on potentially dangerous things. Fear prevents accidents and harm as long as it does not overwhelm you.
8. Feel pleasure and thankfulness: To enjoy the moment with all your senses opens your heart and may lead to a feeling of deep thankfulness and abjection. Scientists found out that thankful people are more happy, what also influences their health, their well-being and emotions in a very positive way.
Scuba diving is relaxing, connects people, brings them in contact with themselves again and also with mother nature. Self reliance and also responsibility for others is strenghtened. Breathing and movement reduce stress hormones and lead to a deep relaxation which may last soo much longer than a dive. Therefor diving is a very good option for stressed people and those who lost contact to their needs and feelings. It is a chance to sharpen the senses and practice mindfulness. And it is fun and generates a lot of happiness hormones. Scuba diving gives you more courage, self-confidence, strength, healthiness, fun and vitality.
Enjoy it! I wish you great and save dives!