Managing stress through outdoor adventure - Thera-sea
The concept that getting active outdoors has a positive impact on our mental and physical health has been around for centuries, but it is becoming increasingly accepted by health professionals around the world.
Katy Griffin, a former mental health nurse turned life-coach, has combined her love for the sea and passion for the outdoors with her professional experience to develop a program that helps people battle stress by getting adventurous out on the Cornish coast.
Katy runs two-day Thera-sea courses designed to help people manage the stress of everyday life by reconnecting them with nature at an isolated retreat in Cornwall. Alongside group workshops and one-to-one therapy sessions, participants also get involved in outdoor activities including, surfing, kayaking, swimming and bushcraft.
We caught up with her to find out more about Thera-sea and the benefits that getting adventurous outdoors can have on our wellbeing.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in mental health?
Understanding human behaviour and how the mind works has always been a fascination of mine. Following school, I went onto study silversmithing at college and university as art and design is also a huge passion of mine. Once I qualified as a silversmith I decided I also wanted to train to work within mental health, so I went on to gain experience working with young people with social, emotional, mental health and behavioural difficulties. I really enjoyed working with the young people and after two years I decided I wanted to develop a greater understanding of mental health so I went to studied mental health nursing.
What inspired you to combine therapy with getting active outdoors?
When I worked with young people, I saw the greatest outcomes when they were engaged in outdoor projects. There was a local boxing club that was set up for young people from troubled backgrounds. It gave them a purpose and something to focus on. Also, growing up in the Peak District, the outdoors way of life was intrinsic to me and I have always been involved in many sports and recognise the benefits myself.
How long have you been surfing for?
Not long really I’m an absolute kook who’s totally hooked. Three years ago is the first time I surfed when I went on holiday with my best friend to a surf camp in France, 10 months after we’d both quit our jobs and went to live in a van in Europe to learn to surf. On returning to the UK, I couldn’t live anywhere apart from by the Ocean so I moved to Cornwall. I’m from the peak district in Derbyshire originally, which is stunning but I love being by the ocean.
Who are Thera-Sea courses aimed at?
They are aimed at anyone who feels the stressors of everyday life and wants to learn how to manage this and improve well-being. We’ve had people from varying backgrounds on the course who have all stated how much it has helped to improve their stress management, from someone who didn’t feel they were particularly stress but found the skills they developed helpful when delivering a best man’s speech they were nervous about to people who said its saved their life and changed their headspace.
What are the core principles of the course?
Our courses break free from outdated preconceptions and enable people to take back control of their lives through a lifestyle approach to health. We help develop a greater knowledge of the body’s systems and how to utilise coping skills that can transform people’s lives.
Good mental and physical health has become far too confusing and we’re up against lots of contradictory information, Thera-Sea aims to improve lost connection with nature and our own well-being.
The good news is that there is a proven way to successfully treat stress. It’s called progressive lifestyle medicine. Thera-Sea is dedicated to this new and effective way of thinking.
Topics covered during the stress management course are:
- Self-regulation and the brain; the biology of stress
- Different types of stress and how to alleviate them
- Good sleep habits and sleep misconceptions
- Exercise and lifestyle as medicine
- How to stay calm in a busy world: the importance of relaxation and meditation
- Nutrition: gut health and the microbiome
- The importance of relationships and having a purpose
What kind of activities take place on a typical Thera-Sea course?
We have the highly experienced land and sea outdoor adventure activities specialist, Mark from Four Elements Adventure who leads all the activities which include, surfing, sea kayaking, paddle boarding, sea swimming, hiking, bushcraft and foraging. Marks a fascinating guy and it’s a privilege to be able to learn from him.
What kind of results have you seen from those who have completed the course?
We’ve had fantastic feedback so far, from people who didn’t consider themselves particularly stressed who have reported that they now have improved sleep, productivity, general well-being and a lasting calming effect.
Others have stated that they already feel more confident that they can create thoughts and behaviour which will enable them to break free from the rut and the destructive ripple effect stress has on their life.
Some found the information from the course was of great benefit to understanding the reasons for some of their behaviour and how best to manage and prevent it and people found the focus on lifestyle medicine, being a more permanent long term resolve for them. Many found the realisation of effects of water sports in a natural environment has been awakening for them. You can see all of our review and recommendations on our website.
How do you think dryrobe will make a difference in getting active outdoors in the cold?
dryrobe genuinely is a life saver in the cold months. All of our activities involve cold water therapy which has huge benefits for health and well-being and all our activities are outdoor and can involve getting change outdoors as well. Often you’re warm during the activity as you’re moving so much but people can soon get cold when getting out the water or changing and dryrobe changes this from a painful experience to a comfortable one. I can’t recommend dryrobe enough.
What are your plans for 2019?
Thera-Sea have various courses and retreats running throughout the year for individuals or group bookings and we have our first overseas retreat which we’re really excited about.
Find out more about Thera-sea and upcoming courses at https://www.thera-sea.co.uk
Photos by Tom Young - https://www.tomyoungphotography.co.uk