Research by various sources has found that ‘Blue Space’ can be good for us. And with this week being Mental Health Awareness Week and Challenge Wales being a charity which provides outdoor learning at sea it seemed a perfect opportunity to highlight the positive impact of being on the water.
The Ocean can have a hugely positive effect on our mind and mood and did you know that according to the Mental Health Foundation, 65% of people find being near water improves their mental health.
NHS and Mind have identified Five Steps to Wellbeing and every step directly fits into a Challenge Wales voyage (whether you are sailing with us for a day, a week or longer!). Our own independent research proved there was a positive impact between being on one of our boats; Challenge Wales or Adventure Wales and positive mental wellness; take a look at a couple of our case studies.
Sail training is a unique type of outdoor education, in fact it is outward bound on the water providing hands-on experience, leadership training and personal growth opportunities for young people. It isn’t all about sailing it’s the other fun, social and teamwork parts that creates the impact.
Step 1: Connect – sail training is about making new friends and learning more about existing ones. It’s a social experience. Feel that sense of belonging as you work as part of a team…everyone is literally in the same boat (pardon the pun).
Step 2: Get Active – According to the NHS being physically active can help improve your mental wellbeing. How? By raising self-esteem, by setting goals and achieving them and the chemical changes that happen in your brain (those little endorphins) which helps to positively change your mood. Sail training activities are designed to involved the whole crew, working to a common team goal and setting & achieving personal goals.
Step 3: Take Notice – Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing – this includes the world around you as well as your own thoughts and feelings. While sat onboard Challenge Wales you can breath the fresh air, feel and hear the rain drops, keep a look out on the horizon, awe at the dolphins swimming alongside you or do star gazing if you are on a night watch. Why not listen to the lapping of the water against the boat once the engine is switched off. There’s no time for scrolling now!
Step 4: Learn – Learning new skills can help boost confidence, help you connect with others and sail training is a great way to do just that; learn how to tie knots, learn a new nautical language, learn about new ports and geography, learn about ocean literacy and science, learn how to cook a meal for 18 hungry crew. Even better – no prior knowledge of sailing or any of the above is required!
Step 5: Give – Small acts of kindness can help create positive feelings. Whether a volunteer donating time and skills, or someone on board helping to make the cup of tea. We are all part of a team and we all look after each other.
In addition to the mental health benefits, sail training is fun and exciting, provides an opportunity to explore the natural world, learn new skills, meet new people, improves confidence and can be life- changing for many. It can help young people develop coping skills and resilience. It can open up doors to new things, be the start of a marine career or working in the outdoor sector, it could be the start of volunteering or just be something to give yourself a new start and a bit of down time.
Can you help us? Challenge Wales is looking to understand more about the needs of young people, in particular those facing mental health issues and those effected by the cost of living crisis to ensure our programme is as accessible as possible to those who will benefit. It is a project we are working hard to find funding for. If you have a few moments and wish to compete or add any comments to our survey as you have experience of working with young people with Mental Health issues in particular you can complete it here.
Challenge Wales – Helping young people achieve their potential
through outdoor learning at sea.