As well as being a rewarding physical sport, archery can also help boost mental wellbeing – and, with a study by mental health charity Mind* reporting that more than half of adults and two-thirds of young people say their mental health has gotten worse since lockdown, it’s never been more important to actively look after our wellbeing.
With grassroots outdoor sports returning from 29th March and Mental Health Awareness Week taking place in May, Archery GB is highlighting some of the benefits that archery brings such as enhanced focus and concentration, and encouraging people to have a go at their local club or range.
Open to all genders and ages, as well as adaptable to most disabilities, archery is one of the most inclusive sports, breaking down traditional sporting barriers to provide an accessible pathway to the physical and mental benefits of sports for all levels of fitness and abilities.
A high-concentration sport, archery requires participants to set aside time to do nothing but focus on a single element – hitting the target. Archers commonly say that when they are aiming everything else fades into the background, which helps train the brain to focus on the here and now, ignoring distractions like negative inner speech and external stressors that may occur in everyday life.
Archery could be considered as a form of active meditation, providing a positive impact on a person’s mood as well as helping to ease anxiety and depression – with some archers noting that it can be just as calming as yoga as it balances the body and mind.
John’s Story: Having lost his leg in a motorbike accident, John Stubbs suffered from depression and originally tried archery as a way to focus his mind and improve his mental wellbeing. Since then, he has gone on to become a double Paralympic medallist, won numerous World Archery Championships and been awarded an MBE.
Archery combines the opportunity to enjoy physical activity in the great outdoors and a social environment – two key factors in managing positive mental health.
The effects have been cited as improved sleep, reduced stress levels, and sharpened mental faculties like memory and problem-solving. Archery also provides the opportunity to enjoy new experiences, healthy competition, and social engagement, which are all beneficial to maintaining and uplifting mental wellbeing.
Neil Gamble, a support worker for the Epilepsy Society, feels the sport is extremely beneficial to his mental health and places particular emphasis on the freedom, balance, art, community and progression the sport provides.
Neil Armitage, CEO of Archery GB says: “While exercise is often noted as being hugely beneficial to mental health, for some individuals more physical sports like running or football aren’t possible or just aren’t of interest. By its nature, archery is one of the most inclusive sports there is, lending itself to all spectrums of the population regardless of age, disability, or gender, and can be especially helpful to people’s mental health. The focus required, getting outside or to the range and the enjoyable sociable environment all play a key part in why our archers say that some of the biggest benefits archery provides is reduced stress, enhanced focus and improved overall wellbeing.”
To learn more about archery, head to the Archery GB website at www.archerygb.org.
Those looking to have a go can use Archery GB’s club finder to find their local club.
Feature Image courtesy of Archery GB