Why narrowboat cruising is good for your mental well-being

If you own, or part-own, a narrowboat, then you’ll know just how enjoyable it is to go cruising in your narrowboat along our inland waterways. But did you know that it’s actually good for your health? The past year and a half has taken its toll on all of us, so we thought we’d share five steps to mental well-being from the NHS and how narrowboat cruising can help. Whatever your personal circumstances, it’s still important to look after your mental well-being and these small steps have been shown to help.

  1. Connect with other people

According to the NHS, connecting with other people helps you to improve your well-being by sharing positive experiences and building a sense of belonging and self-worth. It also provides the opportunity for emotional support – for both you and your friends.

Spending time on your narrowboat, cruising along the canals and inland waterways could be the perfect opportunity to get away from it all! However, think about how just passing the time of day with a lock-keeper can give you a boost. Spending quality time with people in a more relaxed environment can be beneficial for everyone. For instance, sitting down together at mealtimes, or just for a cup of tea, can help you to connect.

You could also arrange to go out with a friend who you haven’t seen for a long time, or invite them aboard for a coffee. They might really appreciate the opportunity to see you, while going somewhere novel. If you can’t meet face-to-face, then a video chat is still a good way of connecting with other people.

  1. Be physically active

There are plenty of opportunities to be physically active for narrowboat owners, despite the relatively small living space. There is also evidence to show that being outside in green spaces is even better for your mental well-being. Operating a narrowboat through a series of locks can be physically demanding, but there are other great ways to enjoy the canals and waterways. The towpaths provide picturesque walking routes, as well as running or cycling routes. Do be careful and follow safety precautions: Watch out for other people on the towpath, animals and obstacles such as mooring lines and follow the towpath code.

If you want to be more physically active on the water, then paddle-sports like paddleboarding or kayaking are becoming increasingly popular. If you’re short on storage space, then inflatable paddleboards or kayaks could be the answer.

Being physically active not only improves your physical health and fitness, it also improves your mental well-being. It raises self-esteem, increases confidence and also releases endorphins that can improve your mood.

  1. Learn new skills

There’s always something new to learn when it comes to boating, so it’s good to know that learning boosts your mental well-being. It can boost confidence and self-esteem, increase your sense of purpose and help you to connect with others. Learning doesn’t have to be academic learning or involve exams, it can be as simple as learning to tie some new knots. You could take advantage of any training opportunities at work, or take a practical course at a local college. You could take a specific narrowboat training course or learn how to service the engine. Alternatively, you may want to develop a new hobby, such as photography, and there’s a wealth of wildlife outside your cabin that you could learn more about.

  1. Give to others

Research has shown that giving to others and acts of kindness improves the mental well-being of the person giving, as well as the one receiving. It does this by giving you a sense of reward and purpose and enhancing positive feelings. It improves self-worth and helps you to connect with others.

It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, small acts of kindness will help to improve well-being. It may just be making a point of saying ‘thank you’ to someone, checking in with a friend or family member and really listening to what they have to say. Helping out a fellow boater at a lock or offering advice about narrowboat cruising, are often second nature to boaters, such is the sense of community on the waterways. It’s another reason why boating cruising is good for your well-being.

Volunteering is also a great way to give to others while boosting your own well-being. It can really give you a sense of purpose and achievement, and allow you to connect with others who have a common goal. For instance, The Canal & River Trust has a wide range of volunteering opportunities that also help you to learn a new skill and be physically active – four ways to improve your well-being!

  1. Be present

Being present – paying more attention to the present moment, also known as mindfulness, has been shown to improve mental well-being. We can lead hectic lives with lots of demands on our time, so it’s important to slow down and be aware of your surroundings. This is even more beneficial when you’re in a natural environment and there is evidence that being near water has even greater benefits. Narrowboat cruising along some beautiful inland waterways is the perfect way to slow down, take in your surroundings and improve your well-being.

This is a marketing article from Assist Insurance, specialist providers of insurance for narrowboats, inland waterways boats, livaboard boats. For further information about narrowboat insurance, please call one of our specialist team on 01604 946779.