As some of my readers will know, I recently began climbing mountains on a weekly basis. I've also been doing bits and pieces like climbing walls, caving, etc., and honestly, I think it's been having an impact on my mental health.
More specifically, I feel like it's having a positive impact on my mental health!
Now, I've already talked about exercise and mental health in the last few weeks, so I'm going to talk about this from a different angle entirely.
When I'm on climbing walls, I know that at some stage, my anxiety is going to kick in. Why? I have a massive fear of heights. I have no explanation other than that. However, every time I do get on a climbing wall, I get a little further. My hope is that one day I'll reach the top. That way I'll have overcome a huge personal challenge, and it'll be a good reminder that I can get through anything.
When I'm caving, I always wind up laughing! I always wind up with bruises, but I always have a good time. Why? Because of the people I go caving with. We have a joke, we help each other out (I'm rather short and struggle with some of the ledges I've to climb onto!), and we generally end up having a good time.
Now, the mountain climbing...I generally go into the mountain range alone. This allows me to appreciate the scenery, explore a little more (whilst being very careful not to fall into any bottomless bogs...it has been known!), and go at my own pace. All quite pleasant things to do!
When I go into the mountains with groups, we generally tackle more challenging mountains. This is when the company comes in handy. Again, I'm terrified of heights, so I struggle with that when we're at a height and on steep ground. So the encouragement is great! However, I also have a problematic chest, that doesn't like tackling tricky terrain. It's not unusual for my lungs to forget how to function when we're climbing. The thing is, I have a habit of pushing myself anyway so that I don't hold anyone back. Generally there's someone in the group who reminds me to stop when I need to, and eventually the message sinks in. Slow and steady wins the race (not that mountain climbing is a race...please don't race in the mountains!).
So really, the ways in which my mental health is improving are too many to list. I'm learning new things about myself and others, I'm learning how to work in a team...and I think this all contributes to leading a healthier, happier life.