Lifestyle, Mental Health, wellness

Why swim in cold water?

Swimming in cold water may not appeal to many, but it could be the key to your physical and mental health this season.

I have always loved the ocean, and will happily swim in any weather, but it wasn’t until recently that I realised the tremendous health benefits it offers. Here I share some of the many reasons why we swim in cold water and why you should too.

It can boost your immune system

When we swim in cold water our body is forced to react to the changing condition and it fires up our sympathetic nervous system to protect us. This voluntary action can, when repeated over time, help our body to activate its defences faster.

It can improve circulation

When we swim in cold water our heart has to work harder to force the blood to our extremities to keep us moving and keep us warm. As it does this, it flushes your veins, arteries, and capillaries and aids the lymphatic system in expelling toxins from our body.

It can reduce inflammation

Swimming has long be known as a superb low impact exercise for our joints, but cold water swimming can go one step further. As adrenaline and endorphins are released, this can soothe or even stop joint pain and reduce inflammation over time.

It can support and sustain mental health

Cold water swimming is by no means a cure for any condition, however our body released endorphins when in the water which gives us a natural high. This study in the British Medical Journal on a 24-year-old woman shows its effects. She had been treated for symptoms of a major depressive disorder and anxiety since the age of 17, but wanted to live medication and symptom free after the birth of her daughter. She began open water swimming each week and this led to an immediate improvement in mood following each swim and gradual reduction in symptoms of depression. A year later she was medication free.

How to swim safe

Cold water swimming is a euphoric experience, but it can be dangerous too. These are some important safety tips from the Outdoor Swimming Society:

  • Never swim alone
  • Never go out of your depth
  • Keep immersions brief – a few minutes is all you need
  • Warm up when you get out with layers, hats, gloves and a warm drink
  • Have something to eat to rasie your blood sugar
  • Walk around to raise your body temperature
  • Never have a hot shower straight after as the sudden change in blood flow can cause you to pass out.

As with any exercise, cold water immersion affects your blood pressure, heart rate, and circulation, which means it can cause serious cardiac stress. If you have a heart condition or any underlying health condition, please discuss the risks with your doctor first.

Join a cold water swim

Each month Mental Health Swims hosts cold water swim meets up and down the country. I host one here in Aberavon, Port Talbot and you would be so welcome to join us! Details can be found here. Alternatively, check out the Outdoor Swimming Society for other meets.

Happy swimming!

R x

Standard
Lifestyle, Mental Health

Chasing waves and wellness

There is nowhere I would rather be, than in the woods or by the sea. For as long as I can remember, I have loved the great outdoors, and been especially mesmerised by the coast. Dave and I have made some of our biggest decisions while walking in the woods or along the beach, and, despite loving our friends in the Midlands, we try to escape landlocked living as often as possible.

When I struggled with maternal mental health in 2013, and again in 2016, I found refuge in being outdoors. Wandering deep in the woods or walking barefoot in the waves is where I feel at home and able to breathe. There is something so soothing to my soul about the rustle of leaves in the canopy above my head or the sound of the ocean waves lapping at my feet. More than that, I feel closer than ever to God when I am in nature. When I gaze out at the kaleidoscope of colours in a sunset or feel the powerful tide surge beneath me, I feel connected more deeply to our Creator.

We have been on a huge wellness journey as a family over the past few years, with exercise, the great outdoors and essential oils. The effect of oils on my mental health initially and our family health subsequently was game changing. We have learned about toxins in our home and how they affect us and took steps to remove and replace them wherever possible.

The Bible says that Jesus came so that we might have life and live it to the full. For our family, that means living a healthy, active life outdoors, and it has long been a dream of ours to relocate to the Coast. God gives us desires for a reason; He wants us to fulfill them!

We have seriously explored moving to Wales for three years, and despite a prophetic word from a friend in 2017 confirming that we would indeed move, the timing wasn’t right. Anna told me that she had seen a picture of me in a boat, rowing towards a picturesque coastline but I wasn’t moving anywhere. God told her that I would get to where I wanted to go, but only when I stopped rowing the boat. True to form, (I am independent and stubborn) I kept rowing anyway. We explored the area, found a church but each time we pushed the door in 2017, 2018 and 2019, we felt them firmly close.

We finally began to settle again and and it was only when we stopped pushing for a move that God stepped in and made a way in 2020. Dave received an unexpected (but very deserved) promotion then Covid-19 happened. It was during lock down that we really got to thinking again where do we want to be? We committed it to prayer and asked God to make a way. Next thing we knew, Dave had secured a transfer to the Cardiff office, God gave us places for the boys at an oversubscribed school and we bought a house 1 mile from the beach all in the same week!

To say God has moved would be an understatement and we are incredibly excited about our new chapter, chasing waves and wellness in Wales. God willing, we will be moved by early August. Dave will continue working from home, for now, I will continue building my wellness community, educating others on the power of plants and we will keep chasing wholeness with Jesus. But this time, we get to do all this from our favourite place in the world – the coast. We hope you will join us on the journey!

R x

Standard