The New Year can be a tricky time for many of us. Whether our festive season is stressful or sublime, the “Christmas hangover” can affect more than just our livers. Low moods are common at this time of year, as lack of sunlight and back-to-work blues combine with many of us taking stock of our lives.
For many these feelings are a normal, if unpleasant, part of seasonal shift. We pop on our slippers, we mope on the couch and after a good moan we often feel a bit better. But for those of us with existing mental health conditions, this season can be especially tricky.
Moving on up!
Although no two individuals are the same, there are some “best practice” things which can help lots of us tackle both low moods and mental health difficulties. Exercise is very high up on that list, thanks to its endorphin-boosting qualities and head-clearing abilities.
But which form of physical activity should you try, if you’re looking to boost your mood? Recent research suggests that rock climbing could be just the ticket…
Climbing out of the Doldrums
Researchers at the University of Arizona and the University of Erlangen-Nurmeburg assessed the depression symptoms of 100 study participants. 50 participants began three hours of weekly climbing lessons right away, the remaining 50 started a few weeks later. A week after beginning the training both groups saw a 6 point improvement in their depression score.
There are many reasons why climbing may be a particularly good form of exercise for individuals suffering from symptoms of depression. Exercise itself has been proven to be beneficial time and time again, but the intense concentration required in climbing may be one factor. With little space for other thoughts, climbing calls for focus and perhaps respite from depressive thoughts.
The range of options for climbers in bouldering (easy, medium and hard routes) may also be a positive feature which helps every climber achieve at their own pace.
Have you tried rock climbing or bouldering before? How did it make you feel? Have any other forms of exercise helped with your mood? Share your thoughts with other readers below.