Mental health is something that more and more people are suffering from, according to Our World In Data 1.1 Billion people suffer from some mental health (source). This is roughly 1 in 6 people in the world, over 25% of those affected are within the United States.
Interestingly it seems that countries within the western world suffer more from stress, anxiety and depression. Some believe this could be related to economic wealth and/or access to technology. How many times have you heard in the media of cyber threats in children, which could lead to deeper problems? This could be the reason why 75% of those that suffer from mental health are below the age of 24 (source).
High Concentration Sports – Why They Can Help
Over the last decade medication being given to those that suffer from anxiety, depression and panic attacks has dramatically increased. Within the UK, it has actually doubled (source). We all know that sports can help improve our physical health, but did you know it also helps with our mental health?
Now I am not suggesting that people should throw away their medication, but sports could help reduce the need of such pills.
So how does sport help?
There is a chemical called Serotonin, which impacts every part of our body. It has been shown that those that have low levels of serotonin tend to suffer from depression, stress and mood changes.
When we exercise our body releases increased amounts of Dopamine and Serotonin, some refer to this as “Runners High”. With an increased level of these two chemicals, we notice our mood improves, we feel less anxious and many even find it easier to sleep (related: How to increase dopamine naturally and Best OTC supplements to boost Serotonin)
How Does Improving Concentration Help With Mental Health?
When we work on improving our focus and concentration, we are programing our minds to think about the task at hand. By doing so, we are telling ourselves to ignore the negative thoughts and focusing on the positive.
By focusing or concentrating on something, you are removing the thoughts and emotions that are causing you to feel unmotivated or depressed. Even learning to do this over a short period of time can help a great deal when it comes to mental health. The more you practice this and concentrate on the sport activity, gradually you will find you are able to control your mood and emotions more outside of the sport.
If you are looking for a sport to help improve your concentration and in turn help with your mood and mental health, you need to pick the right type of sport.
There are 3 levels of concentration;
● Sustained Concentration
This is when the concentration is lasting for a long time, although doesn’t often require a high level of focus. Sports often associated with this include cycling and long distance running.
● Short Burst Concentration
This is when you need to have sudden burst of concentration but are often short lived, these usually happen with more relaxed sports or sports that you are not active all of the time such as golf and baseball.
● Intense Concentration
This is the third type and is probably the most beneficial, as you need to often concentrate a lot for the whole session. With these you will often find that you are in a “zone” and only thinking about the task at hand. These sports include Target archery, darts and sprinting.
Why Archery Helps
Out of many of the sports that requires intense concentration, Archery is one of the best for needing high levels of concentration. Its an excellent sport for encouraging focus, relaxation and improvements to your overall mood.
I recently spoke to Adam Jones from The Archery Guide, on his personal experience with mental health and how archery has helped.
“I first got into archery back in 2010, when I went on holiday and gave it a go in an activity center. It was not till I came home and gave it another go that I really saw how much it benefited me mentally.
I had a fairly stressful job, I had to create weekly reports, Audit other people’s work whilst also hitting monthly and yearly targets. This stress often caused me to feel down, unmotivated and I just couldn’t switch off from work. My sleep really suffered as I was usually wide awake at night, waking early in the morning as well as at least 3-4 times in the night.
I really enjoyed shooting at the archery targets and whilst focusing on the target, I didn’t think about anything…just the bulls-eye. When I got home, I got myself a bow and joined a local club. Each and every time I was shooting, I just cut the world out and entered an almost zen like state. Over time I became more relaxed and happier even when I was not shooting.
Now if I see anyone that reminds me as to how I was, I would always recommend them to look at getting into a physical hobby. It doesn’t have to be archery, just something that gets them exercising and allows them to just focus on that activity.“
The Benefits Archery Has On Your Mental Health
When researching the benefits of archery (source), it’s clear that this sport can really help;
- Improve focus and concentration
- Aids in Improving Motivation
- Encourages Patience
This is due to it not only being physical but also requiring you to have a high level of concentration. This will help lead to;
- Improving Your Sleep Patterns
- Lower your stress levels
- Reduce Levels of depression
- Improve Muscle Memory
Who Can Do Archery?
Unlike some sports, Archery is one that can be enjoyed by everyone. No matter your age, gender or physical condition, you can pick up a bow and become a really good archer. The overall community is really friendly and joining a club allows you to solizise with like minded people.
Martin Douglas also believes that archery can help those with mental health concerns. He suffers from Autism and therefore finds social situations hard. When he found archery, he soon discovered he had a social life that he had not had before. He also feels that it is his aspergers that has helped him absorb everything to do with archery and this making him a better archer.
If you feel that your mental health issues would prevent you from getting into archery, you couldn’t be further from the truth. In a good club you will be accepted and encouraged just like anyone else and you can really make some great friends.
How To Learn Archery?
There are two ways in which you can learn archery, the first would be to join a club and do a course whereas the other is teaching yourself online. Each one has its advantages and its negatives.
The best thing if you want to really enjoy this great sport is to do a bit of both. There are clubs all across the United States and by joining a local one to you, you will be able to find a qualified coach as well as benefit from the social aspects of Archery. As well as learning at a club, there are plenty of guides online that can help not only teach you the basics but help you go to that next level and also help you find the equipment you need.
If you are looking online then I would start with a archery for beginners course, you will learn about the different types of bows, how to hold a bow and more importantly how to shoot one.