Guest blog by Seabird Rowena
I’ve started throwing myself into the sea… in the UK… in spring… and it’s wonderful!
Bear with me…!
There is something about it, when the water is around 10 degrees, that brings you uncompromisingly into the here and now – both physically and mentally.
For the first few minutes, there is little you can do but be in the moment, focus on your breathing, finding it again from where it’s been whisked away from you; experience your flesh and nerves being first bombarded with cold and then numbed by it; feel the adrenalin flowing.
For some (me included) the first minute seems to be accompanied by surprisingly guttural sounds from deep within them. It’s a different way to use your voice, a different way to express yourself, one that has no filter to it.
You know you’re completely safe, that you’re going to become comfortable, but you feel on the edge of it, outside of your comfort zone physically and maybe mentally. It’s a good place to put yourself on a regular basis.
And as you acclimatise, a smile spreads across your face. Your system settles, but the exhilaration of it remains. You’re proud of yourself for jumping in. Your body is making decisions that you feel more acutely aware of than when you’re sedentary. Your capillaries have opened up and the blood is flowing. Your limbs are abandoned in favour of preserving your core, your essentials. The non-essentials are stripped away.
You feel whole. You feel solid. You are surrounded by water, as in your most formative state.
You clamber out: connected, grounded, a little bit brave.
Wild swimming is having something of a renaissance in the UK, and around the world. The positive impacts on our mental and physical health are moving from anecdotal to researched and evidenced.
As well as being bloody fun, and perhaps a little terrifying, it’s about moving out of your comfort zone; trying new things; stripping away the non-essentials; being brought into the present moment; the euphoria and achievement afterwards; (and getting to feel a little bit smug that you did it).
Joining a group is a great way to get yourself out there! I’ve joined one here in Brighton called The Salty Seabirds . As well as being lovely, welcoming people, their conversations about ‘arctic flaps’ (I’ll leave you to figure that one out for yourself) drew me to them! 🙂
We’re not all fortunate enough to live by the sea (I count myself very lucky), but lakes and rivers are just as exciting. There is any number of websites to inform and inspire, including www.wildswimming.co.uk
If you’re not able to swim in, or get to, an outdoors space, swimming or floating in any capacity is great for your body and your mind. Local authority swimming pools are one of the many things we can be grateful we have in this country.