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4 Tips for Overcoming Fear from a Surfer Who Nearly Drowned

4 Tips for Overcoming Fear from a Surfer Who Nearly Drowned

Fear of failure is an emotion that affects everyone. Whether you’re a business owner who worries about how your operation will survive in a changing economy, or just someone in love who agonizes over the thought of having your heart broken.

If you’re a big wave surfer like Greg Long, you fear the unthinkable. And the unthinkable happened on December 21, 2012.

On that fateful day, he and several other surfers were facing some monstrous waves at the Cortes Bank, an underwater seamount 100 miles off the coast of California. Greg wiped out and endured a three-wave hold-down before his body was pulled, unconscious, from the water and carried back to the boat by the team’s rescue crew.

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Greg survived to share his story of what was essentially a non-fatal drowning. He even managed to overcome his fears and insecurities and get back in the saddle, or—in this case—back on the board, but it wasn’t easy.

It took some soul searching, some changes in perspective, and about a full year before Greg was finally able to shake his doubts and surf again with the same confidence he once had. Here are a few of the pointers he shares as he looks back at his road to mental recovery.

Control what variables you can and forget about the rest.

In surfing, as well as in life, there are elements you can control and there are those you cannot. Greg’s advice to anyone dealing with fear or anxiety is to only spend your time focusing on that first category.

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In Greg’s case, for every hour he spent surfing, he spent many more preparing and training (both mentally and physically) and making sure his equipment was in good working order. He knew the wipeout would come. His job was to work as hard as he could so that, when it did, he could be confident in knowing he was prepared for it.

Know that there are other possible outcomes, and they aren’t all bad.

A large part of Greg’s fear stemmed from the fact that, for too long, his entire life had revolved around surfing. It was all he knew and the only life he had ever imagined for himself. When something consumes that much of your awareness, then the thought of losing it is devastating.

Almost losing his life caused Greg to reevaluate his priorities and what he was living for. After a while, he realized that, while he still loved to surf and wanted to continue doing it, his true happiness was found once he struck a better balance that incorporated things like spending time with friends and family and pursuing other hobbies and interests.

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But don’t question.

Accepting the fact that there may be other possible outcomes is good. Constantly questioning why certain things happen is bad. No matter what life throws at you, know that it’s for a reason. Work towards finding a solution to adapt to your new circumstances and move on.

Greg never questioned why he suffered such a horrific accident or adopted a “why me?” mentality. Instead, he accepted his new reality and sought to figure out exactly what he was meant to learn from it.

Be grateful for your circumstances, no matter what.

It may sound strange to think about being grateful for tragedy or failure or heartache. But that’s exactly what Greg did after his near-fatal accident. He was keenly aware of the fact that he had no control over the obstacles he was facing. He only had control over himself and how he tackled them.

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Greg knew that it wasn’t those outside factors that contributed to his happiness. His happiness came from within. Greg made a conscious decision to embrace his new circumstances, and the result left him happier than he ever was when his life was consumed by surfing.

With these tips, anyone can begin making strides towards overcoming their fears of the uncertain or unknown. Change is inevitable. Hardship is possible. But behind it is a lesson to be learned and a new future that awaits you.

Featured photo credit: surfing-926822_1920/StockSnap via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on October 23, 2018

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

The Neural Knitwork Project

In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

The knitting and neural connection

The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

More mental health benefits from knitting

Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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“You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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“People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

The dopamine effect on our happiness

Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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“Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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