One of the biggest growing aspects of diving recently has been using scuba diving for disabilities and therapy. Today scuba diving is one of the most inclusive activities and there are dedicated charities that use scuba diving for extreme cases of disability and that’s because it works. Scuba diving helps you both mentally and physically, which is why they’re using it so much for rehabilitation for a whole range of people.
Arguably the biggest benefit is the physical because people with physical disabilities are freed from their physical constraints while diving but there's also the mental benefit to scuba diving too and that’s what we’re going to be focusing on in this video. It’s harder to quantify and study but there are some serious benefits for your mental health while scuba diving and why more people should try it and use it as a way to improve their mental health.
Probably the biggest pro for diving in my book is that there are no cell phones, emails or anything chasing you while you’re underwater so all the social obligations just melt away under the waves. Social media, which is one of the largest cues of modern mental issues, especially in younger people, just doesn’t matter, sure you can take some photos and videos for your Instagram but you don’t tend to get much reception out at sea and you’re usually wet on a dive boat so the phone stays in a dry bag.
It’s great to unplug from your phone and the internet every now and then and scuba diving pretty much guarantees that. If you pull your phone out at 20m it’s ruined and while everybody is talking about the last dive or talking about the best place they’ve dived then you don’t really think about your phone so it just stays in your drybag. As a species, we weren’t made to be constantly plugged into our phones so getting away from it all feels great and take a lot off your mind.
The new environments and group mean you can switch off a lot of the nagging social constraints when you’re on a dive site. If you want to wear the same board shorts for the 3rd day in a row then you do you. It’s not an excuse to just do whatever you like but social standards are reassessed when on a dive boat. Dive boats tend to be pretty chilled and this, less-uptight environment is better for you to be yourself in front of others.
Actually, in the water, you have the freedom of going pretty much anywhere you like and the ability to go over, under and around obstacles which is a great mental opportunity. Instead of seeing walls and barriers everywhere scuba diving just shows you opportunities, it’s the positive reinforcement
Human beings love schedules, whether you think so or not, but our bodies and minds are made to get into routines and that’s where they feel most comfortable, hectic lifestyles can really screw you up so it’s nice to get back to a predictable routine. Diving has some great routines compared to other sports and it basically takes one thing off your mind, thinking about what to do next, because the routine is pretty much the same. The best example is a liveaboard, the days go so fast because you’re repeating the routine day after day; wake up, dive, eat, dive, eat, dive, eat, sleep.
On a dive it’s pretty much routine; assemble and check your gear, dive in, descend, explore the dive site, check your gauges, ascend, get out, it all has a nice flow and routine which is great for your brain.
Physical activities are great for your mental health because you’re using your mind to work things out constantly and believe it or not; working out makes you feel better. Sitting on the couch isn’t so great for you because your brain isn’t really doing what it’s meant to do. Moving things around and feeling for current while your diving gets your body and mind working together.
Working out puzzles is also great for your brain so fixing something like a leaking regulator is getting your body and mind working to fix the problem. Every second you’re in the water you’re actually working all of your muscles to move around and even stay still in the water and all these tiny adjustments to your body is your brain tweaking all those neurons that are usually dormant sat on the couch.
Humans are social animals and our brains are hardwired to work in a group but some people, through no fault of their own, can become isolated which can lead to depression and further seclusion. Scuba diving is a very inclusive group but it’s not too intense, it’s a great way to get involved in a group but you can slowly be as involved as you like. Being part of a group and contributing makes you feel better and valued as a human being and this draws people out of their shell.
Scuba diving is both very social and very independent at the same time. On the surface you laugh and joke and work to help one-another kit up but then under the water you spend all of your time in your own head. You still interact with other people underwater which is great for your mind trying to communicate with your hands but you spend some quality time with the voice inside your head for around an hour at a time, just working things out.