During a typical day, do you ever feel mentally fried from the thousands of tiny decisions you made in the matter of a few hours?
If you're planning a vacation to Maui, you're likely eager for an escape from your daily routine. When visiting the Hawaiian islands, you get to experience the relaxed pace of life, the aloha spirit, and enjoy the scenic landscape. It's highly likely you're coming to the island for R&R and hitting the pause or reset button on your brain. You might be planning on alleviating your stress with sunny days at the beach, drinks by the pool, snorkeling Molokini, or taking a day trip out to Hana.
Whatever activities you're planning, you're expecting them to be stress-free and fun, right? Well, as you probably know, your vacations can be stressful or even MORE stressful than your typical daily life!
Growing up in the midwest, I was told an urban legend that on every vacation 3 things will go wrong, and the sooner you get them over with, the more time you can spend relaxing. I think this legend is complete bullshit, but as you know, walking into an airport seems to heighten your stress levels immediately.
The increase of stress can be generated due to travel plans being adjusted, missed connections, lodging mishaps, obnoxious neighbors, long rental car lines and crappy airport food. You know that when traveling, it might be difficult to turn off your stress and leave all your headaches back at home, which ironically suffocates the purpose of going on vacation.
We all need breaks from work – I would argue we all need more than the typical 1 or 2 weeks away from obligations, but going on vacation in hopes of relaxing and alleviating stress can turn on you, and actually accumulate on-top of your existing stress. There's many ways to relax, decompress and improve your mental health, but for me, scuba diving has been the biggest result generating activity I've done to reduce my stress, and it's one of the key reasons I became a scuba diving instructor.
Scuba diving has been my personal solution to lowering anxiety, depression and mental stress. After I learned to dive, I found myself exiting the water in a mental state of bliss and happiness, and now I want to share how peaceful and beneficial scuba diving can be to your brain and overall mental health.
For me, scuba diving is one of only a few activities where I'm not multi-tasking. It's an undertaking where my cell phone, computer and notepad aren't fighting for my attention. In the media the negative effects of multi-tasking are becoming more prominent. It's the ironic twist in the human story where all of our technology which is "supposed" to take work off our shoulders, yet we all seem burned-out and busier than ever.
When on land, you and I are likely the same as in we are cramming our schedules full of chores and tasks, while listening to audiobooks on how to streamline our daily life into an efficient, productive, superhuman level state of flow - in hopes to improve the betterment of society.
When not teaching new divers or guiding dives, I'm busy running the other aspects of a solo dive business. I'm juggling social media, marketing my services to customers, creating content, booking dives for this week, scheduling dives months in advance, preparing my weekly newsletter, cleaning and maintaining gear, ordering certification books, planning for the holiday season and more. All of this of course while I'm listening to podcasts, texting my wife and drinking gallons of coffee.
Our modern life glamorizes multi-tasking, telling us humans we can become as efficient and productive as all of our machines. Plus, we're force-fed continual trending news and daily stories of horrific events, flooding our brains with junk food that only distracts us, lowering our focus on the top priorities we should be giving our undivided attention to.
Personally, I struggle daily with staying focused on one task, and even though I practice yoga three times a week, routinely hike a 6 mile trail, and am an avid reader, my mind wanders quickly to the dark side where all the stress and long list of "Things to To-Do" live. One moment I'm focused and the next my brain is sprinting in loops painting a variety of thoughts of obligations, fears and concerns.
With all the activities I've tried to manage stress, scuba diving is the only action that will consume my attention 100%, and eliminate all stressful thoughts from my mind.
Even with my long list of logged dives, I still descend beneath the surface in the alien-like environment of the ocean and find myself instantly organizing my focus all to the present moment. When diving, I'm no longer concerned about modern life hassles, previous mistakes, paying taxes or running errands. I'm focused on breathing, slowly swimming, and watching the plethora of ocean life.
While diving with other divers and teaching students, I have found the same positive result again and again. After every dive, I ask my divers if they felt more calm and stress-free underwater and the overwhelming responses are YES! Oddly enough, night diving takes your attention to a higher level, where you only truly focus on what is ten feet in front of you, and nothing else.
The good news in a wider context is mental health is becoming a vital conversation online, and becoming a serious topic of discussion among influencers and industry leaders.
From entrepreneurs, employees, and students – everyone experiences stress. Exercise is a way to manage stress, lower your anxiety, alleviate depression and overall boost your mental well-being. If you're an avid runner, swimmer or generally active, you likely feel the reduction in stress while participating in your sport, and find your mind focusing on the task at hand. Scuba diving is no different, and after you take your first dive, you will experience a true sense of relaxation and feel your overall mental state being far from stress, and you will likely be hooked on diving!