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Pendragons Abreast, Perth

Submitted by Rose Glassock - Registered Psychologist on behalf of Pendragons Abreast, Penrith – Australia. 

Dragon boating is good for our mental health!         

Positive Psychology can explain why ……

Pendragons Abreast, were given the opportunity, as a part of Breast Cancer awareness month to speak at a local physiotherapy and health clinic about the benefits of dragon boating. As a psychologist I thought it would be interesting to discuss the benefits we gain from paddling using some psychological explanations!!

We know the research and from our own experiences that dragon boating provides aerobic benefits, builds strength and helps avoid lymphedema. But what else???

Going through the process of diagnosis and treatment, we often come out the other side impacted by trauma. We process trauma through the body using rhythm. Patterned, repetitive, rhythmic somatosensory activities elicit a sensation of safety. Rhythm is regulating. All cultures have some form of patterned, repetitive rhythmic activity as part of their healing and mourning rituals — dancing, drumming, and swaying ……and dragon boating can serve this purpose.

Dragon boating can be a form of active mindfulness we get into the rhythm of the stroke, we focus more on our bodies and less on the chatter of our minds.

Positive Psychology uses the PERMA model to explain 5 elements essential to human wellbeing and flourishing.

Dragon boating helps us tick off each of these 5 elements:

  1. Positive emotions – what makes you feel good? Paddling makes us feel good, we are healthier with improved fitness and strength.

  2. Engagement – What activities make you lose track of time? Active mindfulness can help us lose track of time as can bringing our focus to our stroke and the training routines.

  3. Relationships - What brings you joy and gives you support? In our team and through Dragons Abreast Australia we have fabulous friendships with breast cancer survivors from a range of backgrounds and we support each other with empathy for each other’s experience.

  4. Meaning - what causes do you find important and worthwhile? Pendragons Abreast participates in fundraising activities and support causes such as the McGrath Foundation and local charities to give back to our community and to raise awareness of dragon boating as a way to thrive following breast cancer treatment.

  5. Achievement – what are your goals? Dragon boating is inclusive, goals may be to “survive” training and feel stronger, it maybe to compete in regattas or to race with sports, State or National crews. We support and celebrate each other’s goals and achievements.

Dragon boating helps in so many ways to contribute to a flourishing, active and vibrant life.

Further information:

Martin Seligman: The Perma Model.

Bessel van der Kolk: The Body Keeps the Score.