Pickleball Magazine 3-1 - Page 45

Problem Solving Some have hypothesized, and current research is being conducted, that doing a daily crossword puzzle or engaging in problem-solving games such as chess helps to reduce the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease—as well as other mental health conditions. Playing pickleball is like solving a riddle. It includes identifying a strategy, finding out who is trying to do what to whom, and what the strengths and weaknesses are of different opponents. Pickleball is a very healthy, active mental process. A lot of problem solving is done electronically nowadays. That isn’t entirely bad, but smashing a pickleball is way better for your brain than crushing candy on your iPad. Physically Active— Mentally Healthy Physical exercise has emotional and mental health benefits as well. In fact, 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise has a similar effect on the brain as a daily prescription of Zoloft. A pickleball high is a real thing. Pleasure leads to a rush of dopamine to the brain. The brain likes it—getting joy from social interaction, focus, and problem solving, to name a few. Once people get their first experience with playing, they are chasing their next dopamine rush. It isn’t uncommon to see a bunch of picklers on the courts during a rainstorm with a wheelbarrow full of towels and leaf blowers trying to dry the courts so they can play—again, problem solving! IT GETS US OUT OF OUR LOGICAL THINKING AND INTO THE CREATIVE AND ARTISTIC PART OF OUR BRAINS Laughter, Creativity and Play Plato said, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” I see more laughter and lightheartedness with pickleball than any other sport. The mishits and blunders are hilarious; the amazing reaction shots are jaw- dropping, and the inside jokes never end. Even though there’s a definite structure and deliberate strategy in how to play pickleball, once the smashes and lobs start happening, it becomes a very creative and reactionary sport. It gets us out of our logical thinking and into the creative and artistic part of our brains. Using both hemispheres of our brains is balancing and therapeutic. Almost every point requires both sides of the brain! Laughter and play are also primarily social functions. We laugh and enjoy playing more fully when we are with others. The Right Kind of Addiction Once our brains experience dopamine, they crave more and more of it. Pickleball is addicting. It’s enjoyable. We crave it. The good thing about pickleball is that it’s a natural high. You can’t overdose from too many dinks. As a marriage and family therapist, I offer a word of caution: Any activity or habit that adversely impacts an important area of your life is considered counterproductive—including pickleball. If your pickleball obsession is getting in the way of spending time with your kids or loved ones, you may want to take a break and make sure you are maintaining balance. Take a night off and plan a date with your spouse. Take your kids to the lake. If you are not keeping up with your school or occupation, get your work done before setting up a game. If your anger, or need to win, is affecting the joy in playing the game, seek out a new perspective, or find another way to experience life so it doesn’t affect relationships and sour everyone else’s experience. I am grateful to be a part of the pickleball community. As I became a new parent and moved into a new neighborhood, my social circles seemed to be getting smaller and smaller. Playing pickleball has put me in contact with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. It has been a beautiful experience to learn the game and feel the therapeutic benefits of being a part of the community. My father, a recently retired CPA, is a former tennis player and somewhat introverted. In just a few months of p ^Z[XX[ H H[[\XYHX[B]Y[ˈH][\^YY[\™\\[Y[H8(SPTKёPPTH NPQVSB