Many veterans have a tough time adapting to civilian life after leaving the army. This is due to the high level of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is experienced after service. PTSD is caused after you experience severe trauma or a life-threatening event. Whilst it is a normal thing for someone to feel shocked after this kind of event, PTSD occurs when this continues or is paused in this state.
There are many activities that are suggested for veterans to get into once returning from serving their country; most of these are athletic focused. The first step for recovery is to get moving, cycling is a great way to stay centred and remain calm. Below are ten ways that cycling could help veterans find peace at home.
- Keeping Active
As with any mental illness, physical exercise is always the best remedy. Cycling is a great way to keep active and keep you mind focused on the task at hand. Depending on how seriously you hope to get into the sport, there are various different types of cycling you can get into. No matter which cycling route you take, make sure to keep safe by getting firm mountain bike handles to prevent accidents. Whilst they have various different price tags attached to them, you can still get active and out on a bike for little money and keep yourself active and healthy.
- Being at one with nature
Cycling is an outdoor sport, usually conducted in beautiful scenery. Not only are you getting active and fitter, but you can also be at one with the nature around you. This can help your rides have some purpose; you could bike to a local nature reserve and go bird watching, or bike along a costal path and take in the seascapes. Whatever you decide upon, this will help combat PTSD as your mind is active in the now, rather than dwelling on the previous.
- Discovering new routes
Coming from an army-based background the likelihood that you will be handy with maps is pretty high. Here you can use your already stellar skills to help plan your routes and finding new, adventurous ways to your destination. There is a great sense of purpose when finding or discovering new routes on your bike and so much to be seen through doing so. This allows you to be completely focused at the task at hand.
- Visiting new places
Experiencing new places and cycling around new areas is a great way to distance yourself from previous negative thoughts. You are keeping fit and active, finding new destinations and hopefully having positive experiences as you go. This is a great way to improve your mental health and overall wellbeing.
- Join a cycling group
Whilst this is a sport that you can do on your own, when you are ready or feel up to it you can join a cycling group. This may help people suffering with PTSD as it is a chance to feel part of a team again. It is a great way to socialise and get to know other, likeminded people in your area too. Cycling is a great way to build a group of friends that can help boost your mood.
- Cycling professionally
As many veterans are at the peak of their health, cycling professionally should not be off the cards. This is a great way to refocus your goals and give your life a sense of purpose. Of course, this may come with some time, but with determination it is an easy place to find oneself. This is a great focus for anyone suffering with PTSD and mental health issues generally; it is a tangible goal that can re-focus you.
- Going on cycling holidays
Once you have found some peace at home with various cycling activities, there are a plethora of cycling holidays that you can get involved in too. These can either be over-seas or in your own country, there are many notorious cycling routes that can be experienced all over the globe. This usually happens more when you get affiliated with a team or club, it is a great social activity and give you the chance to see new places.
- Being mindful
Cycling can be a group or individual sport, whichever you want it to be. Some cyclists love to go out alone and be with their thoughts; this is a great exercise for PTSD sufferers. Being mindful and truly alone with your own thoughts can help you focus on what is important and calm you.
- Improving your mental health
Cycling has been proven to improve your mental health, as with anything active once you get the bug it can have a profound effect. Just being interested and involved in a sport can do this, but cycling is so outdoorsy it has a completely unique impact on a persons overall mental wellbeing.
- Getting an adrenaline rush
Cycling can be either be long distance and rolling hills, or racy mountain biking, both of which can give you a great adrenaline rush. This is a great way to combat any feelings of PTSD, it is an addictive feeling that can be great to overcome any veteran.
There are many ways that cycling can help veterans adapt to civilian life and find peace at home. These ten ways are just the tip of the iceberg of how it can help. Everyone’s journey is different and specific to them meaning there will be many more personal gains that can be experienced. The most important thing is to keep active and positive, hopefully cycling can be this void for you.