One of the biggest influences golf had on me was that it relaxed me so much that I would put myself in a state of meditation and mindfulness which was a big influence during my recovery phase. It helped me relax and get focused when I felt my life was getting out of control, or when I felt tempted enough to risk a relapse.
I would love to share with you 3 reasons why golf helped me when I was in rehab:
I had focus and purpose
They say that the secret to a perfect round of golf could be a lack of concentration. When I entered rehab for the first time my brain was all over the place and I could never focus my attention on something for a decent amount of time before getting bored. This was a result of all the drugs and alcohol that I had abused in the years prior. I was scared about how was I going to get clean and I knew that it would take very hard work to successfully recover.
I was first introduced to golf as part of my therapy program which was called, “Golf Therapy.” I’ve never enjoyed exercising in my life and I wasn’t the type of person who wakes up and goes out for a run at 5 is, however, once I started getting into golf I realized that exercising can bring great benefits not only physically, but mentally.
Exercise increases your heart rate which in turn, increases the blood flow to the brain, this has been proven to help delay mental illnesses such as dementia. It kept me positively focused on the game and once the game was over I felt like I couldn’t wait for the next time we could play.
In a little domino effect, I felt that my self-esteem and confidence also went up. I would make personal bets to myself to try to compete against my fellow players to win the round, this helped me to focus on my strategy and made me feel like I had a purpose in my life again, so it doesn’t matter how small or insignificant your purpose may seem, the important thing is that you focus and challenge yourself.
I made new lifelong friends
Have you seen in the movies or on TV a game of golf where everyone seems to be hanging out and having a good time? That’s because golf is truly a socially enjoyable sport. I always struggled with friendships in the past (hence the drinking) but ever since I started playing golf through my therapy it has provided me with incredible opportunities to meet new people and to help connect with my local community.
I’ve now joined as a member of my local golfing range. As golf is not as highly intense or competitive as basketball or football, there is plenty of time to relax and interact with fellow golfers on the field.
When I was in rehab I was initially introduced to golf as the type of sport that has the uncanny ability to show our individual strengths and weaknesses. I realized that the challenges that I faced every day in my life were mirrored when I played golf. My recovery team helped me identify these traits and we discussed how they impacted my life and how I could improve internally and spiritually. Once I was able to work past these emotions I was able to focus on building up my relationships again.
This ultimately became the backbone of how I made my new friends through golf as I was approaching the situation with an open mind and being totally honest with my new friends outside of rehab. They appreciated me for who I was, they understood and supported me when I had to politely decline their offer for a beer after the game.
My health improved
When I was consuming I was a bit of hermit crab. I never wanted to leave the house and when I had to, it was for a short time. I had a very sedentary life and besides the health problems brought by my addictions, I was at risk for diabetes, heart and blood pressure problems, etc. I was not a good example of a healthy person.
Golf helped me change that lifestyle, helped me overcome those vices and unhealthy habits that were dragging me down, and it gave me really good health benefits. My willingness to go out increased dramatically once I started to play golf. Constant exposure to green areas such as a large 200-acre golf course can help the body relax, reduce stress and can aid in alleviating anxiety. Soaking up all that Vitamin D from the sun made me feel brighter somehow, I felt happier, motivated to eat better, and it helped me feel good about myself (inside and out) for the first time in a very long time.
I lost 15 pounds in a short amount of time as I chose to walk around the 18-hole round instead of using a golf cart. I also reduced my risk of a stroke, diabetes, and lowered my blood pressure; all great side effects of my new passion.
As a result of the benefits that exercising brought to my life, I was able to sleep better at night. Going around and playing tired me out enough and I was finally able to fall asleep peacefully which was a huge improvement in my life and still is.
Whether you are in rehab, have a loved one in rehab or you are looking to pick up golf as a new hobby, the health benefits, the amazing mental benefits, the sociable, supporting, open-minded people you can meet, and the focus and purpose that you will find by picking up this low-intensity sport are priceless.
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