In the spotlight – Wild Swimming!
Wild swimming is, to all intents and purposes, going swimming outside in a natural pool of water, be it a bend in a river or the sea. The important thing is that you are in nature, away from buildings, traffic and other urban distractions. The kind of activity that previous generations might have just called ‘swimming!’.
And indeed, maybe down the years we have forgotten the benefits to our mental wellbeing of communing with nature in this way. Wild swimming has enjoyed a renaissance during the pandemic, with a growing number of advocates and social media groups celebrating its benefits.
Six ways wild swimming can benefit our mental health
There is a growing amount of evidence to suggest that wild swimming can help to improve mental wellbeing.
It boosts dopamine levels
Immersing the body in cold water boosts dopamine levels and increases the release of endorphins.
Research shows that heading out into green and/ or blue spaces can help make us feel better. This also helps to combat the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The sensation of cold, fresh, water enveloping over us and feeling at one with everything around us, helps create a connection between body and mind, bringing us into the present moment.
The wild swimming community are a friendly bunch. By joining a local group or beginning to swim with people you already know, you can build on new and existing friendships.
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise and can help lower blood pressure, increase immunity and is considered a low-impact exercise making it more joint friendly.
Reducing symptoms of anxiety
Overcoming the resistance to entering cold water can help us to build mental resilience. Over time this helps us to become more confident and boost self-esteem.
At a time when we may be struggling to feel connected with our bodies and the world around us, wild swimming can offer us both. But remember if you want to try it, it’s important to stay safe: it’s a good idea to know the local regulations, don’t forget to pack sun lotion and insect repellent, take someone along with you and watch out for very cold water and currents – never go wild swimming alone.
You can find a host of blogs on ‘My First Mental Health Swim’ here: https://www.mentalhealthswims.co.uk/blog/