My Paddle Boarding not so Zen experience

As a Therapeutic Life Coach I should be perfectly calm and in control at all times? Nope sorry to disappoint as this would be unachievable for anyone and a panic attack can pop up at any uninvited moment. We are all human including therapists and our brains are designed to keep us alive.

My experience

Paddle boarding is the activity of the moment, for mindfulness, relaxation, to lower stress levels whilst being in nature. Or so I thought but it appears that for me it triggered old memories which resulted in panic.

Over 40 minutes of what I believed would be fun, a new experience and growth with a new found love I instead experienced at least 3 panic attacks!

You see although I had forgotten all about my previous experiences my very clever life saving amygdala had not. It is safe to say that my fight or flight response awoke at an alarming pace to keep me alive. Rather than berating it I was thankful, it was only doing its job which was to warn me of danger and keep me alive.

Logically I knew I would be okay, I could turn around or worse case someone would see and rescue me. Yet in that moment I mentally froze as my imagination raced through every disastrous possibility.


As a teenager I was very fortunate to spend my summers around water whether that be the sea or on lakes, mainly windsurfing. They were long never ending summers and enjoyed windsurfing in France, Sweden and the UK with many happy memories.

Although as I floated out on the lake on my paddle board I was caught on a wake and I found myself heading at a rapid speed towards the reeds. I am reasonable strong and was desperately paddling but struggled to turn the board.

Now I am unsure if this was a momentary experience or it actually lasted as long as it felt I am uncertain but it filled me with dread. This happened a further 2 times and lets just say I was most relieved when our time was up and I could clumber onto dry land.

Later that afternoon my parents and I laughed as I retold the story and I asked did I ever get stuck in the reeds to which my dad responded ‘yes more than once Esther’. I now recall the being rescued and the walk of shame back around the lake.

Now I am not going to punish or be disappointed in myself as lets face it water and reeds can be pretty dangerous.

My story is not to put you off paddle boarding but to share with you that not all panic attacks are something to berate but instead to make logical sense as our brains are just trying to keep us alive.

I may or may not go paddle boarding again but if I do I will prepare myself and be kind.