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Chockstone Forum - General Discussion

General Climbing Discussion

 Page 1 of 2. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 23
Author
climbing as anti-anxiety prescription

billk
27/01/2011
2:34:53 PM
Adventure sports - an anti-anxiety prescription?

The Age, January 25, 2011

Power ... activities such as rock climbing can improve mental health.

Some years ago I was abseiling down a cliff when the rock my feet were planted on took a sharp curve inwards leaving me hanging in mid air with around 400 metres between me and the ground. There was a watery bowelled, panicky moment when I wondered what possessed me to do this. Yet when my feet touched flat earth again, I knew exactly why - because getting out of your comfort zone can do so much to tame anxiety and boost confidence.

It all began when a friend asked me to go to a climbing gym. Familiar with gyms, but not the climbing kind, I’d blanched when I saw the height of the wall we were meant to scale. The big surprise wasn’t that I reached the top, but the pumped up feeling of confidence that had me raring to do it all again. Yet it was driving home when the most interesting effect kicked in: I was less white knuckled changing lanes in fast flowing traffic and I could cross the Harbour Bridge without breaking a sweat. Over the next few weeks, the more I climbed, the more confident I felt which is how, eventually, I ended up abseiling - and also wondering if adventure sports can be an antidote to anxiety.

Dr Sallee McLaren who’s both a rock climber and a clinical psychologist specialising in anxiety believes it can work for a number of reasons.

“I think it’s helpful with all anxiety problems because it enables people to enter into a deep level of concentration that helps push anxious thoughts away. People gradually habituate themselves to be more brave, and when you realise you can be brave in one area of your life, you realise you can be brave in other areas too,” says the Melbourne-based McLaren who often recommends indoor or outdoor rock climbing to clients with anxiety. “They can challenge themselves in a controlled situation because they’re either in a climbing gym or outdoors with guides. It also helps people not to be passive – anxious people often think of themselves as victims of anxious thoughts, and activities like climbing, mountain biking or white water rafting help them not to feel like victims.”

Adventure sports like rock climbing and abseiling can improve anxiety because they’re activities with a real sense of achievement and a real sense of fear, says Sydney clinical psychologist Grant Brecht.

“But anyone with a major anxiety disorder needs to be having therapy as well,” he cautions. “They need to be prepared for the adventure sport and be debriefed afterwards because if a person fails at the sport it can make things worse. It’s also important to have well-credentialed guides with good safety procedures.

“Still, as long as you’re in a safe environment, experiences like rock climbing and abseiling can be effective. They can change your belief system - when you’re in a situation where you’ve accomplished something and people tell you how well you’ve done, your thoughts about yourself change. I’ve had patients who’ve cured themselves in this way. But in 70 per cent of cases, the effect only lasts a short time so to make sure you’ve conquered a major anxiety disorder, it’s best to complete a treatment regime with a qualified psychologist as well as engaging in your adventure sport,” he adds.

Tamer kinds of exercise can also have a major mental health benefit, says Brecht who believes the message to get regular exercise should be as loud for preventing and managing anxiety and depression as it is for losing weight and preventing heart disease.

“To get an effect for depression and anxiety, research suggests you need to exercise frequently – five times a week,” he says. “We don’t know why it works but the theory is that it helps by releasing brain chemicals that act like opiates, as by sending more blood and oxygen to the brain – as well as a sense of doing something well and sticking to it.”

widewetandslippery
27/01/2011
2:45:41 PM
On 27/01/2011 billk wrote:
challenge themselves in a controlled situation because they’re
>either in a climbing gym or outdoors with guides. It also helps people
>not to be passive

How can you accept a controlled situation and not be being passive?
Godless
27/01/2011
2:47:56 PM
This belongs with that research in another thread that rats who survive danger when young are more wary later. That's called wisdom. As in the quote "You live and learn or you don't live long."

I don't think the positive effects of rockclimbing are as simple as the corporate "brave in one area of your life, you realise you can be brave in other areas too", I see it as a more Heideggerean (no idea how to spell that) concept of feeling fear makes you know your alive. Dasein. Don't know how that applies to gym bunnies or mattress backs.

And hell, what do I know, I've been climbing a long time an I'm as neurotic as a zit infested teenager.

billk
27/01/2011
2:56:26 PM
On 27/01/2011 Godless wrote:
>>I don't think the positive effects of rockclimbing are as simple as the
>corporate "brave in one area of your life, you realise you can be brave
>in other areas too",

Yep, I think this article leaned a bit too far in that direction.

I certainly don't think doing something novel once can help anyone be less anxious long term. Of course, corporate training weekends etc have to sell you the idea that you only have to go abseiling once and your entire life will be turned around.
widewetandslippery
27/01/2011
3:14:30 PM
I've always found corporate trainning to lessen anxiety , not. I'm generally lucky if I make it to morning tea.

cruze
27/01/2011
3:18:41 PM
I don't know whether it is just getting older, but I find that I now respond better to most stressful situations in my life as a result of climbing for 15+ years. So I agree to some extent. Calling BS on the 400 m of air beneath her heels, though.

billk
27/01/2011
3:22:10 PM
On 27/01/2011 widewetandslippery wrote:
>I've always found corporate trainning to lessen anxiety , not. I'm generally
>lucky if I make it to morning tea.

Word.

The only lives it improves are those of the people who get away with charging good money to make the rest of us sit and listen to it.

IdratherbeclimbingM9
27/01/2011
6:23:44 PM
>“But anyone with a major anxiety disorder needs to be having therapy as well,”

Is this why we follow up with Chockstone?



>experiences like rock climbing and abseiling can be effective. They can change your belief system -

Yes, many on Chocky try to do that!

Heh, heh, heh.

ambyeok
28/01/2011
2:20:08 PM
On 27/01/2011 billk wrote:
>leaving me hanging in mid air with around 400 metres between me and the ground.

What are they doing, single strand on a 500m rope? Two 500m ropes? 1km rope?WTF?

sbm
28/01/2011
2:38:30 PM
Where in Australia even has a vertical 400m cliff? The Gorge at Buffalo is ~300m, the biggest routes in the Grose ~300m, Frenchman's Cap would come close. Where else?

billk
28/01/2011
3:05:11 PM
On 28/01/2011 ambyeok wrote:
>On 27/01/2011 billk wrote:
>>leaving me hanging in mid air with around 400 metres between me and the
>ground.
>
>What are they doing, single strand on a 500m rope? Two 500m ropes? 1km
>rope?WTF?

They never get climbing quite right in the media do they?

Maybe the author wrote "40m above the ground" and an editor didn't think that was exciting enough.
One Day Hero
28/01/2011
9:49:23 PM
On 28/01/2011 sbm wrote:
>Where in Australia even has a vertical 400m cliff? The Gorge at Buffalo
>is ~300m, the biggest routes in the Grose ~300m, Frenchman's Cap would
>come close. Where else?

North wall of Buff is a stretch at 250m, Bungonia south wall is probably a bit shorter than this....both nicely steep though. Many of the big Grose cliffs are broken by massive bushy terraces (doesn't count)......Mt Banks looks reasonably big and unbroken, maybe approaching 300m? Warrumbungles aren't as big as they look, Flight of the Phoenix has 50m of traversing and its still less than 300m all up. Not sure about the Tassie cliffs, I think that 400m of vertical rock in oz is a fantasy. When I've seen/climbed 500m cliffs overseas, its been immediately obvious that they're a fair whack bigger than what we've got at home.
richardo
28/01/2011
9:55:52 PM
I've climbed with too many people that retreat off a route to check they've locked the car or turned the gas off to believe this is anything other than complete BS.
Mike Bee
28/01/2011
10:41:15 PM
Federation Peak might get close to 400m of drop, maybe?

The author doesn't say that the rope was going all the way to the ground, it's possible that the rope was only set for a 30m rap into an incut ledge or the like, but the drop was much larger.

That said, I reckon the 400m was exaggerated too.
TonyB
29/01/2011
9:54:00 AM
On 27/01/2011 billk wrote:
>says the Melbourne-based McLaren who often recommends indoor or outdoor rock climbing to clients with anxiety.

This seems to conflict with the Chocky fellow who says, if I understand correctly, he is stopping climbing because of induced anxiety:
" ... but knowing I would not miss the constant anxiety which descended once we stepped off the track."

sbm
29/01/2011
9:59:53 AM
MYTH: BUSTED.

Oh no, a journalist using hyperbole.
dalai
29/01/2011
12:15:47 PM
Could have been OS. Where does it state the cliff was in Australia?
widewetandslippery
29/01/2011
12:29:29 PM
I think exageration is part of the "group thing". I've heard wild exagerations from people who were supposedly in elite military corps who quote what I can only believe as wild exagerations of wieght cariied and distance covered. Maybe they conviniently leave the vehicle out of the we travelled 50km with 60kg packs and 15kg body armour stories.

Another example is office workers who quote massive hours.

That said exposure is exposure. Hanging Rock in the blueys is 150m high and I find has the same pucker factor as some of the larger cliffs in the area. I freak often at the point on a <100m cliff as rap in climbing f---s with my head but some of my best climbing has been on much bigger bits of stone.

To me the article mentioned just explains that climbers are all normal, calm, thoughtful and rational people with traditional values and there has never been a hint of mental instabilaty amoung us.
Godless
29/01/2011
1:34:14 PM
"all normal, calm, thoughtful and rational people with traditional values and there has never been a hint of mental instabilaty amoung us"

Man, I am so putting that on my resume.
widewetandslippery
29/01/2011
4:56:03 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48N3lP42qdA&feature=fvst

Its about time for me to go for a walk. I find it calming.


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There are 23 messages in this topic.

 

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