How kayaking helped me with my mental and physical health

Written by Andrew, one of our customers. 

Back in the day, things were rough. I could feel my mental and physical health deteriorate in front of my eyes.

In order to fully explain my situation, we have to jump back to October of 2015. I had just gotten laid off from my job and was working part time side gigs to pay the bills. I hadn’t been in any meaningful relationship in three years, and every day became a struggle to get out of bed and do something semi productive.

I spent my days doing meaningless work to get just enough money to squeeze by. I was looking for a purpose, but it was escaping me in the monotony of everyday life.

I was in a pretty dark place mentally. I couldn’t escape the prison of my own mind. I went to the doctor, and I was diagnosed with mild depression, but I could feel it getting worse. The last thing I wanted was to be pumped full of drugs without at least trying to turn everything around myself.

Along with my mental happiness, my physical health started to slide downhill fast.

I was gaining a lot of weight because of my lack of motivation to do anything about it. I was eating everything and not doing anything to counteract it. Because I struggled to even leave my house for anything, I couldn’t bring myself to work out or take care of my body.

A couple of months after that vital point in October, a family member came to me and called me out. This was a big turning point, because it often takes a second party to bring attention before action can be taken.

I decided for myself that something needed to change. I had to retake my life and get back on track. I knew it would not be an easy process, but it was one that could not be put off any longer.

All of my problems started to dissolve when I decided to buy a kayak. Although it sounds simple, and somewhat cheesy, getting that kayak truly turned my life around.

I scraped together a few hundred quid I could barely afford to spend and went to get a kayak. The buying process was super simple and I came away with a fantastic kayak that same day. Luckily, I have a truck, so maneuvering the kayak was super easy.

The next morning, I woke up with this fire to actually do something with my time rather than waste it away on my computer or my couch. I loaded the kayak into the back of the truck and went for a drive.

Thankfully, I live in an area that has a few great options for Kayaking. There are a couple of rivers and lakes in my area where I could explore. The longest I would have to drive was about 30 minutes, but it was also a really enjoyable drive. I used to dread being in my truck. With this newfound purpose, those drives were really nice.

The first couple of times I tried to kayak didn’t quite go as well as I had hoped. After all, there is a learning curve involved. I didn’t fall in the water, which was my biggest fear going into it, but I did come close a number of times. That uncertain hobble will surely scare you just a touch.

But, after the first three or four times, I felt super comfortable in the kayak. I could paddle with a purpose and I did it without the fear of dumping myself in the frigid water below. This confidence directly translated into my regular life. For the first time in a long time, I felt good about who I was and what I can accomplish.

Two weeks after I bought the kayak, I went out almost every day and finally started to apply for new jobs. I felt revitalized. I felt like my life could actually get back on track in a way that is satisfying and fulfilling.

I applied and got a great job to restart my professional life. Although this took a little bit of time away from kayaking, it was well worth it, and I still made time for that newfound passion.

The same confidence that got me back into work spewed over into my physical health. Once I got into a good headspace, I was able to translate that new-found energy into forming myself to become a better person. This wasn’t easy, but it had to be done.

I didn’t know this before, but it turns out that kayaking is an excellent form of exercise. When I was unmotivated and couldn’t get out to do anything, my weight became a really big issue. Because I felt reborn mentally, I was able to work on the physical side of things.

There are a few different things I do when kayaking, but about half of the time is dedicated to working out. I push myself hard and really work out my arms and core. Kayaking is also a multi-layered work out, so I am also focusing on cardio and endurance. After an hour of pretty hard paddling, I am exhausted.

When I am not trying to push myself I love to bring my fishing gear and try my luck. If I’ve had a busy day and I’m already mentally exhausted, I simply enjoy nature and explore a waterway I haven’t before. No matter what I’m doing, I am at peace when in a kayak.

It wasn’t a quick transformation, but, to this day, I am happier and healthier because of this purchase. If you find yourself in a situation like mine, I highly recommend giving kayaking a try. It isn’t for everyone, but who knows. Maybe that will be the answer to some of your problems.

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