You surface from the dive and make your way back onto the boat. You start to remove your scuba equipment and, looking around the deck, you see wet and happy people. Everyone is chatting and comparing their experiences of the dive. Back in the ‘real world’ someone is a teacher, someone is an electrician, someone is a student. But right now, you are all scuba divers. Whether you have done ten dives or a hundred, you belong, and it feels good.
But did you know this could be good for your health too?
Feeling part of our social group matters, it affects our health, our identity and our development. We are all different, and every time we enter a new place, we are looking for ways to connect with each other. Of course, it doesn’t take much when you are a scuba diver, someone notices your kit, or an image on your clothing and wants to make a bridge, simply because they’ve noticed you are a diver!
Being accepted as part of a social group meets one of our most basic human needs: the need to belong. A sense of belonging can come from the shared (often unique) experiences we have as divers. But it goes deeper than that, because the human need for connection means that being accepted can alter processes in our minds and bodies. Feeling safe in a group reduces stress levels. Working together often challenges and inspires people to do more we would alone. And achieving things as part of a successful team raises our self-esteem.
Often, scuba divers take a little bit of what they learned back into their day-to-day life. It could be that buzz of being with the group, that feeling of being part of a team. It might be the sense of relaxation as you listened to the bubbles underwater. Or maybe it is the memories of that dive and the people you dived with.
But it doesn’t end there, because humans want to share their experiences. Every new diver knows that feeling when you cannot stop yourself from talking about diving! You go home and tell your family. You go into work and tell all your colleagues. In fact, given an opportunity, you will probably tell your hairdresser, your dentist and the cashier at supermarket too!
Scuba diving gives you something to talk about and an aspect of your identity that you will want to share.
Being a diver can mean belonging to a unique dive community and could significantly improve your wellbeing.
If this article has inspired you , then join PADI’s online dive community (where constant diving talk is absolutely encouraged!)
Dr Laura Walton is a Clinical Psychologist and PADI IDC Staff Instructor with a fascination for the psychology of diving. Visit scubapsyche to learn more about our behaviour as divers.