If television and the internet are your only exposure to extreme sports, you might think that every extreme sports athlete falls into the same stereotype. They’re a wingsuit-wearing thrill-seeker without any sense of self-preservation. Of course, the extreme sports community is far more diverse than that.
Many extreme athletes are average people with normal careers who enjoy a chance to blow off some steam or challenge themselves. In fact, many extreme athletes use their sport as a means of overcoming their fears, and you can too. If you don’t believe it, here are a few examples.
If you have a fear of heights, cliff diving could be therapeutic. That doesn’t mean you should seek out the nearest 50-foot cliff and throw caution to the wind. We strongly encourage safety in any sport, and when diving it’s critical that you have a safe place to jump from and have checked that the water below you is sufficiently deep.
Once you’ve taken those precautions, cliff diving from a lower altitude is a great way to gradually acclimate yourself to heights. As you become more comfortable, you can use this sport as a way to indulge “the call of the void” as many people have come to call it.
Open Water Swimming
You may not think of swimming in the ocean as an extreme sport. Keep swimming for a little while, however, and your perspective may change. Open water swimmers are serious athletes, but you can dabble in this sport and help improve your comfort level with the ocean itself.
While it’s true that swimming in open water carries some risks, the likelihood of something going wrong is relatively low compared to something like snowboarding or motocross. Moreover, this is a common fear that many people including athletes face. Triathletes who often compete in open-water sections of their races need to feel comfortable in open water and have developed techniques to do just that.
Of course, the irony of “aquaphobia” is clear when you consider the growing use of water in different therapy programs. It’s even used as a way of avoiding psychological barriers to recovery, helping patients break from the fear-avoidance model and return to their lives. In much the same way, embracing an activity like open water swimming can help someone accept and move beyond a traumatic event in their past.
Social Stressors and Community
Extreme sports aren’t just good at resolving fears of physical things. As with any athletic endeavor, the extreme sports world is a product of a rich and varied collection of extreme sports enthusiasts. For those who aren’t comfortable interacting in a social setting, extreme sports might be a common topic of interest to help fuel conversation and drive relationships.
You can see examples of this in the way that communities have sprung up around some of the more mature extreme sports out there. Snowboarding, skateboarding and BMX bicycling all consisted of a small crowd at the fringes of society once upon a time. Today, you can’t watch sports on television without some sort of reference to an extreme sporting event, and these sports helped move the extreme into the mainstream.
Joining a community and having a feeling of identity is a huge confidence boost for many people. That’s why participation in extreme sports, like any sports, can be a way to overcome social awkwardness and low self-esteem.
Why Not Try Something New?
If you’ve wanted to take up an extreme sport but never tried, you should consider the benefits. Whether you’re cliff diving, open water swimming or doing something entirely different, you’ll get fit and feel better.
Of course, these sports affect you on a much deeper level than just the physical. Engaging in an extreme sport will not only reshape your body, but it can change long-held beliefs and adjust your mindset. With time and effort, you can become a more confident, capable person.