May is Mental Health Month. Mental health is something that affects every single person to some degree. As we recently heard on MPR, depression is the "common cold" of mental health. Kurt and I are not immune to mental health challenges, we all get "colds". But in 48 years of living, and almost as many cycling, we have found areas of cross-over in our mind-body practices that have become central in our daily lives, and frankly ~ in our sanity. So this week we thought we would share with you some things we have learned and do. Because, as stated in our last blog post:
Kurt and I believe strongly that äventyr is not just about bicycle bags. äventyr is about sharing knowledge and experiences, helping people feel empowered and motivated, and creating community. For us, our ultimate expression of our knowledge and experience has culminated in starting a company that sells bicycle bags, but this is about so much more, and bicycle bags are just a start.
Today, Kurt talks about how cycling helped him start flying again. In his own words...
I have struggled with flight anxiety for many years, the last seven of which I have not flown. Until January this year. I have now successfully flown on three trips this year. Here are a few things that have helped me, how cycling has helped my fear of flying, and how my fear of flying has helped my cycling.
2008, My last International Flight. We had so many frequent flier miles between us after living in San Francisco we flew business class round trip to Sweden on our miles!
As I was climbing up a hill on my bicycle last year, I found an interesting correlation between flying and biking. I was really working hard climbing up a hill, the elevated heart rate, the breathing, and the physical stress reminded me of what a panic attack felt like for me when I was flying. But I realized that the hill would end, I would make it to the top; I could work through those challenges and they would soon be over.
It was in this moment I realized I could use this power in thinking on my bike to get myself through a flight again. And so now, when I am flying and start to feel a little anxiety I think of it like climbing a hill on my bicycle. Yes it is stressful, but it doesn’t last, it WILL be over.
In 2005 I was flying solo frequently; here I had just landed in Brussels and was on the train to meet DeAnn in Paris (where I surprised her when she got out of the cab and smacked a big Parisian kiss on her first thing!).
Like any challenge in life, even the challenge of a phobia has brought growth and inner strength. Part of my training for conquering my phobia has been to start a meditation practice. I have found that practice so powerful in bringing calm, focus, and control to the 'race condition' my mind is creating on a plane, I have extended meditation techniques to my work life and cycling. By focusing on my breath and how my body is feeling in the moment, I can maintain high efforts for longer.... Strava medals are proof it is working :-).
Like working through tough moments on my bike on a hill, meditation has taught me how to stay calm, control my breathing, and keep focused. I just need to stay focused and calm and get through it, and like that hill ~ it will pass. ~Kurt
My first flight in 7 years! January 2019 - I made it to Nashville!
Kurt has been using Headspace for flying this year.
Kurt also talks about using meditation in his post about his strategy for the Land Run 100 (see #4).
Additional Mental Health Resource: https://www.calltomindnow.org/