Getting a GRIP on your Anxiety

Getting a GRIP on your Anxiety
Getting a GRIP on your Anxiety
When you think of rock climbing, what’s the first thing that pops into your head? What if we told you rock climbing can actually improve your mental health. Did your anxiety just worsen? Let us explain.

When you think of rock climbing, what’s the first thing that pops into your head? The movie Free Solo perhaps? Did your stomach just drop?

Well what if we told you rock climbing can actually improve your mental health. Did your anxiety just worsen? Let us explain.

Rock climbing possesses quite the unique ability to not only instill fear (be it of heights or falling, or both) but also take it away.

Consider this…you’re on a rock wall and you want to get to the top. The only way to do so as safely as possible, is to focus on the next hand hold, the next foot hold, and so on. This immediately throws you into a state of mindfulness - focusing solely on the task at hand. Any outside concerns or stressors are forgotten.

“ It does not leave much room to let your mind wander on things that may be going on in your life”

…says lead researcher Eva-Maria Stelzer, whose team found rock climbing to be an effective remedy for anxiety and depression symptoms.1

Plus, it may actually be a preferred treatment option for some, as a secondary study found rock climbing to significantly improve emotional regulation as compared to a relaxation session, for those struggling with major depressive disorder. 2

Meghan - Cam’s Kids Research and Development Coordinator – has experienced the emotional benefits of rock climbing first hand.

“I first started rock climbing because I thought it was a unique way to work out, and a fun way to take a break from studying. Don’t get me wrong, the fear of falling (and making a fool of myself) was in the back of my mind in the beginning. But then, I started conquering these fears and watching myself get better in the process - so I kept going back. Eventually, I noticed my self-confidence increasing and the conversations with my inner voice becoming more positive. 

However it was only when I was suddenly unable to climb did I truly realize just how much it was contributing to the management of my anxiety and overall mental wellbeing.

Focus, mindfulness, perseverance, strength.

These are just some of the life skills I have learned from climbing, and they directly relate to the day-to-day management of my anxiety. Plus, in any given climb, I get to practice these skills more. Meaning, if I am having a bad day or if I feel like I need to re-charge these skills, I know I can turn to rock climbing to calm my mind.

It's pretty ironic actually. Rock climbing takes me to new heights physically, and yet keeps me grounded emotionally. Afterall, it’s not the wall that I conquer, but myself.”

Important: if you suffer from acrophobia- rock climbing may not be the best choice for you.  


Want more information:

  1. Kleinstauber, M., et al., (2017) Rock climbing and acute emotion regulation in patients with major depressive disorder in the context of a psychological inpatient treatment: a controlled pilot trial. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 10, 277-281
  2. https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/bouldering-rock-climbing-anxiety-depression-treatment/
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