Three years ago Finn, 25, was looking forward to doing some soul searching overseas. Unlike most of his mates, Finn wasn’t too sure what he wanted to do for work so his idea was that he would find his answers abroad. After all, people always say ‘you find yourself while travelling’.
Unfortunately, when Finn returned to Brisbane he had more questions than answers. What did he want to do? Who did he want to be? What would people think of him? Then the panic set in.
“I was really struggling with feeling like I didn’t have any kind of identity. You have that thing that you’re doing and it defines you. I didn’t have that thing. It was a tumultuous time for me.”
“I was really struggling with feeling like I didn’t have any kind of identity.”
Like a lot of young people, Finn was feeling anxious about his future. Anxiety was something Finn has struggled with throughout periods of his life, but this time it didn’t feel like it was easing up.
One day Finn got a call from his mates asking if he’d like to join them at the local rock climbing gym. The stress and anxiety at home wasn’t doing him any good so he decided to give it a go. Finn says this decision was one of the best he’s made.
“I wasn’t doing any physical activity at the time so the first session was tough. But the more I went, the more I got the hang of it. It made me appreciate how important it was to have that regular exercise routine. I had more energy and my mind felt a lot clearer after each session.”
“It made me appreciate how important it was to have that regular exercise routine. I had more energy and my mind felt a lot clearer after each session.”
What Finn had discovered is that by taking care of his physical health he was also improving his mental wellbeing. The body and mind are intrinsically linked. Physical activities like rock climbing release endorphins and serotonin into the body. These chemicals make you feel good, lift your mood, increase your energy levels and improve your sleep.
Another benefit of rock climbing is that it presents you with mental challenges along the way.
“It’s really great and clear as a rewards system. In rock climbing you have problems or routes that need to be done in a pretty specific way. So finding the right path is a lot of problem-solving. You work through the course gradually, falling off but trying different ways. You put a lot of mental and physical effort into it. Those two things combined get that old dopamine going as well.”
Doing regular mental exercises like this boosts your overall brain activity, improving your processing speed and refreshing old or unhelpful thought patterns. This was particularly important to Finn’s mental wellbeing journey. By getting over that wall every week, it was also helping him get over the wall of anxiety and stress in his life.
“I definitely attribute having an exercise routine or hobby as a major part of helping me manage my mental wellbeing."
“I definitely attribute having an exercise routine or hobby as a major part of helping me manage my mental wellbeing, so don’t be afraid to give rock climbing a go! The gyms I’ve been to are always super social, and anyone who climbs will tell you how supportive and laid-back climbers are. It’s a great culture.”
Finn is now working at a flotation therapy clinic while he works out what he would like to do next. He still goes rock climbing twice a week at his gym and enjoys scaling the cliffs at Brooyar State Forest or Redbank’s White Rock Conservation Area for an extra challenge on the weekends.