Climbing saved my mind

Back in September, I started climbing. A coworker asked me to come along with her. I hesitated for a moment. Could I even do this? But decided to say yes and was hooked right away. 

I started climbing twice, sometimes three times a week. Through slow and steady progress I saw I started to improve and I could nail harder routes. 

And then I lost my job.

Naturally, there was more to it than that, but the important thing was I lost my job, got a burnout and suffered a severe emotional disbalance. On the day I lost my job I spent my day sobbing over comfort food, got myself out of the door after dinner and went climbing. I drove to the gym bawling my eyes out, but by the time I went home, I felt a lot better than before. 

How come? 

From my experience climbing forces you to think about nothing else than the problem in front of you. One thought or worry about anything else, and you’re concentration is gone. Your hand will slip, and you will end up on the matt. 

It makes climbing very mindful. There is no room for anything else. The trick with climbing and bouldering is that you’re both using your mind and body at the same time. While you’re climbing, you’re solving little puzzles.

The research

Naturally, I’m not the only one who discovered the benefits of climbing along. Several studies have been done revolving around mindfulness and climbing. All of those pointing out the same things: climbing is an act of mindfulness, leaving no room for other thoughts.

For me, climbing has been instrumental in not losing my mind. Not only had my body get stronger, but my mind also had too. Some of the routes can be scary and can only be done when you believe you can. As soon as your mind goes ‘nope you can’t do this’, you slip, and you’re back on the ground. This happened to me many times.

When it comes to climbing your mind is your strongest muscle. This is true in all sports, but in climbing it becomes most evident to me. That’s the key, I think. That even when you feel weak, and your mind is giving you a run for your money, you can still conquer it when you climb.

There is something magical about reaching the top. Even if your whole day fails and feels wrong, climbing can make you feel like you still accomplished a lot. Reaching the top feels like an achievement like you conquered the world even if that world is only 4 meters high. 

During a few very dark days climbing has been a light to hold on to. It gave me something to look forward to, and it made me feel like I did something. No matter how shit the day was, climbing could make it better. 

This year I want to keep climbing. In the gym, outdoors, in different places and other countries. I want to read about climbers, connect to climbers and be a climber. Because in the end, climbing saved my mind when I thought it was going to stuck in a really dark place. I taught me I’m always stronger than I look, especially when I don’t think I am.

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