Eat. Sleep. Skate. How Skateboarding Helps Your Mental Health: Plank Zine

The world of female skateboarding is huge on Instagram, it was only a matter of time before someone established an all-female skateboarding zine to collaborate and promote amazing women. A lady I followed did just that and called it ‘Plank ‘Zine’. I agreed to write a personal piece for an upcoming issue combined with advice about mental health. I recently finished working as a researcher for Suffolk Mind, the mental health charity and felt I had to share what we were doing. Without further a do….


Eat. Sleep. Skate.

How Skateboarding Can Improve Your Wellbeing

For my 12th birthday, I begged my parents for a Plan B Ryan Sheckler signature deck – it was chequered pink and adorned with a large image of a skull wearing a royal crown (yes, I became one of those emo kids, you know the type). When my parents granted my wish, as excited as I was, I abruptly encountered a problem.

Yes, I owned a fundamental part of a skateboard but I didn’t know how to put the grip tape on or what trucks/ wheels/ bearings I should buy. Before the age of Youtube, even at age 12, I was still too embarrassed to go to a shop full of men and ask them what I should be doing as I’d only ever seen men skate. Needless to say, that board went to the back of my cupboard and I vicariously lived out my skateboarding dream watching The Life of Ryan on MTV. 

Earlier this year though, that all changed. At 24 years old, I started working at a mental health charity and I learned that based on the Human Givens Institute approach to wellbeing, we all have 9 emotional needs and 3 physical needs that help us to stay well. Simply put, these include the need for Meaning & Purpose, Achievement, Privacy, Attention, Community, Control, Emotional Connection, Security, Status, Food & Drink, Sleep, and Movement.

With this knowledge in mind, on a crusade to improve my own wellbeing (and smash the patriarchy), I took up skateboarding. Initially, I feared I was far ‘too old’ to skate but seeing Tony Hawk still shredding at 51 swiftly put me in my place!

In a short few months, skateboarding has become a big part of my life. For me, my favourite part about it is the social aspect. As humans, we are social beings; being around others as part of a group helps us reduce our stress and anxiety levels. I’m thankful female skateboarding has such a huge online community. I love the fact that when I post a video of myself doing the least-impressive ollie ever, there will still be women congratulating me, cheering, and encouraging me to keep going. 

Similarly, at the skatepark, when you finally land something, strangers slam their boards to the ground to cheer at your success. In doing so, skateboarding helps to meet my need for community, emotional connection, status, and attention. 

When it comes to my need for control, skateboarding is helpful too. We all need to feel we’ve got a say over our lives and personal choices – but it is helpful to acknowledge what we can influence, and accept there are some things which we cannot. Skateboarding is an excellent way to learn this – you have to accept at first that there will certainly be tricks you cannot do immediately, and you can’t change this without accepting responsibility and actively trying repeatedly until you are able to control the board and progress! Hooray. 

Skateboarding also helps me meet my need for achievement. When I finished my master’s, I felt lost – I had based so much of who I am on my educational achievements that I didn’t know how to get the sense of pride associated with doing well elsewhere. As humans, we all need to feel like we’re achieving things and growing; seeing improvement helps our self-esteem too. However, every time I land back on my board after a shuvit, I glow with positivity and pride, pleased that I have persevered and achieved a terrifyingly hard goal I set for myself.

That leads me on to privacy – we need at least 5 to 10 minutes every day. This gives us time to process and reflect on the day, learn from experience, and decide what’s important to us. Without this time, you may find it hard to sleep at night as it is the first time you are alone with your thoughts. As soon as your head hits the pillow you end up ruminating over them, struggling to sleep. 

I often find my chance for privacy occurs while skateboarding – when I go out alone for a skate around my local area, I am allowed the chance to reflect on what’s happening around me. Once I’m worn out from trying to nollie and need a break, I collapse on the floor and have time to clear my mind. 

Of course, there’s also the physical aspect of skateboarding – it’s a very demanding sport and no doubt after a long day in the sun shredding, you find yourself falling asleep as soon as you snuggle into bed. Not only is that extra sleep beneficial but exercising releases endorphins and works quickly to improve your mood! 

So there we have it – if you’ve ever felt frustrated and fed up with your life, met some friends, pushed around on your skateboard for a bit, and felt better, well, now you know why! If you are interested in learning more about your needs, and how you can get them met in all aspects of your life, head over to bit.ly/EmotionalNeedsAndResources.

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