Blue Hour is ecologyst’s newest short film exploring the life of Matt Young, a 40-year-old former snowboarder turned surfer. He is living the life many of us dream of on the rocky shores of Vancouver Island. For Matt surfing isn’t just an activity, it's a way to connect with himself and mentally recharge among the waves.
“It’s not just about being on a board or riding a wave. It’s everything about the ocean, what it carries and the life it brings.” - Matt Young
Here at ecologyst we know first hand how life-changing surfing can be. We started as a surf brand 20 years ago and it is still part of our DNA and has shaped who we are and how we do business. It's a way of thinking just as much as it is a physical activity.
“My best wave doesn’t have to be the biggest wave. It could just be the timing of the day, the light on the water ... It’s just the timing of it all, the flow. It’s all about flow.” - Matt Young
Health and Wellness
Blue Hour highlights the immeasurable mental and health benefits gained through surfing and spending time in the ocean. Surfing is scientifically proven to aid in mental health and prescribed as a treatment for PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
The Harvard Medical School says regular exercise improves memory by stimulating certain chemicals in the brain helping blood vessels grow and brain cells thrive. When you combine physical activity with the overwhelming sensory cues that happen when surfing you get the perfect cocktail of positive brain chemistry which is tied to euphoric memories. The smell of the fresh ocean breeze. The taste of the salty water. Sounds of waves coming ashore, and the floating sensation while being surrounded by endless water. Surfing is a physical and mediation activity.
10 Ways Surfing Can Improve Your Mental and Physical Health:
The obvious benefits of maintaining a physically active life are well documented through science. Cardiovascular endurance, leg and core strength from balancing on the board, and shoulder and back strength from paddling. Why run on a treadmill or lift weights when you can achieve a full-body workout among the waves?
Coldwater has been cited as having immense benefits for the body. It releases stress hormones causing a feeling of invigoration. Coldwater is also anti-inflammatory and can ease tension, headaches, and pain. That’s why it’s common practice to bathe injuries in ice. Coldwater is reported to also heighten your body’s predisposed metabolic rate which leads to burning calories.
Surfing is just as much of a work out for your mind as for your body. You need to understand the mechanics of navigating waves on your board. Or reading the meteorological cues about how the weather is changing. How are the currents changing? What is the precise moment to stand up? All of these things are mental challenges and puzzles you face while surfing.
STRESS RELIEF - FINDING FLOW:
Everyday life can be stressful. Work, home, relationships, friendships, finances, politics, pandemics. Surfing provides an opportunity for you to release your stress. It is a chance to fully immerse yourself in the here and now. Fully energized and completely focused. This existential moment of you and the oncoming waves is a state of flow. Flow is where you forget the presence of time, other people, and life problems that seem totally overwhelming. Everything seems more manageable after a soul searching session in the sea.
FINDING YOUR TRIBE:
Being part of a community of people who share your values and interests can provide you a sense of belonging and the feeling of being understood. Oftentimes we’re together with people we share little in common with. This isn’t a bad thing but it can also cause feelings of disconnect and isolation. Surfing provides an opportunity to connect with people in a natural setting. The surfing tribe is one filled with many diverse people and backgrounds who all share a love of the ocean and the life it brings.
FLEXIBILITY & MUSCLE MEMORY:
Flexibility enables smooth surfing and aids in preventing injuries on and off the surfboard. While paddling the body is in a position similar to a cobra position in yoga. This engages the core and connective tissue to stabilize the body while propelling through the water. The motion of the arms and shoulders is not much different from shoulder dislocates in sports such as gymnastics and Crossfit.
Physical exercise, in general, contributes to the offset of the negative effects of stress, which can lead to low mood, depression, and anxiety. Studies have shown that regular exercise reduces inflammation, and detoxifies the body.
Vitamin D comes from being out in the sun. It’s important for strong bones, it regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Vitamin D deficiencies can lead to low energy, lower mood, and general fatigue. Getting outside in the fresh air and the sunlight regulates your circadian rhythm and releases hormones like dopamine.
Melatonin production increases when outside during the day soaking up the rays. Physical exercise also helps you sleep due to physical exhaustion, helping you fall asleep, and gets you into a deeper sleep to help your body repair the muscles worked during surfing. Getting outside, being colder than usual, facing the elements, and being tossed by multiple waves requires energy. This is an energized exhaustion that makes you feel good. So enjoy your evening post-surf and take it slow.
Surfing might not be your main life purpose, but it’s a helluva good start. Having goals gives you clarity on what is important to you, and puts seemingly insurmountable problems into perspective. Consistent drive and passion for something engages your brain and gives you energy and inspiration to achieve other more complex goals.
“Life is just better going into the ocean at least one time a day.” - Matt Young