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Is Surf Therapy the Key for Recovery?

If you've ever surfed, you know how amazing it feels to be out in the water. It's an adventurous form of meditation, a way to fully connect with your body, nature, and the wave you're riding.

When you're out on your board, nothing else seems to matter. But surfing isn't just a sport that feels good. Researchers are finding that surf therapy may be a crucial piece in one's substance use and mental health recovery. Let's unpack some of the main benefits.

What Is Surf Therapy?

Surf therapy isn't just grabbing your surfboard and heading to the beach. Instead, this treatment refers to a specific type of experiential, adventure-based therapy.

In essence, surf therapy is structured, monitoring surfing. Trained surf therapists work with their clients to help them experience all the therapeutic benefits of being out on the water.

No previous surfing experience is necessary. Your instructor will ensure that you understand the basics of the sport and review all essential strategies for safety.

In a clinical program, surf therapy can occur at different intervals, but most people engage in the treatment about once a week for at least a few months. After that, so long as the ocean is physically accessible, most people continue with the sport!

What Are the Benefits of Surf Therapy?

Surf therapy has become more popular in recent years, and for a good reason. Surfing comes with numerous physical and emotional health boosts. Here are some of the main benefits.

Increased Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem often comes from a place of helplessness, detachment, and insecurity. It can also come when you feel stagnant in your life.

Unfortunately, low self-esteem can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You might avoid trying new things because you worry about failure. But because you aren't trying anything new (or making any important changes), you keep feeling bad about yourself!

Learning a new skill- even if you can't conquer it right away- inherently feels good. And the more you master something, the more those feelings of empowerment compound.

Surfing can make you physically and emotionally stronger. It can also make you more resilient to fear. Embracing those qualities can do wonders for your self-esteem!

Social Connectedness

We're all social creatures, and we value bonding and connection to others. However, making friends as an adult isn't always easy. It's especially challenging if you're in recovery.

But surf therapy is an experiential type of group therapy. You're among like-minded peers who want to live healthier and more meaningful lives.

Surfing can help you feel more bonded and connected to others. As you're learning (and excelling) in this new sport together, you're enjoying a shared common experience. And that experience can create a powerful foundation for forming dynamic friendships.


Think about it. When you're catching a wave, you aren't thinking about the mistakes you made yesterday or the tasks you need to complete tomorrow. Instead, you're fully focused and engaged. Nothing is ahead of you except for the shore.

Mindfulness is an essential part of anyone's mental health. The more you can embrace moments of being present, the better!

Healthy Coping

Engaging in physical activity is one of the best types of self-care. Research shows that routine exercise benefits nearly every part of the mind and body.

By embracing surfing, you're embracing a low-cost, accessible sport that only requires a board and the ocean. You don't have to pay for an expensive gym membership or keep a ton of gear. You just have to commit to showing up. And the ocean is always waiting for you.

Maximize Flow

Flow refers to a mindful state of being where you feel totally immersed in the current experience. It's an active mode of mindfulness, and people often achieve it when they engage in something they really love.

You know you're in a state of flow when you lose track of time. You also know you're in flow when you aren't thinking about basic needs like hunger, sleep, or even what's happening after the event. Finally, people in flow aren't necessarily comparing themselves to others- they're embracing the moment and truly focused on making the most of it.

Therefore, it goes without saying that flow-based hobbies are some of the best sober hobbies you can practice. Many people find that surfing fulfills that inherent need for flow. You're captivated, immersed, and fully present with your experience.

Final Thoughts

Surf therapy offers a dynamic supplement to other forms of traditional treatment. As a result, it can be a powerful tool in your recovery process.

At The Resurface Group, we know the first-hand benefits surfing can bring. In addition, we can't ignore the benefits of living right along the beautiful Pacific Ocean! So, whether you're very experienced or a total novice, we're here to show you the ropes. Contact us today to learn more!

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