Today's blog is by guest blogger Katie Brown, lifestyle blogger at Cake v Scales, talking about her personal journey with swimming and how it has helped her mental health...
Through this complicated journey we call life, one of the hardest lessons I’ve learnt is that sometimes, nothing is louder than the voices in your head. I can’t help but wonder why I have such a strong determination to nurture others, but I’m hell bent on torturing myself. After suffering with a series of anxiety attacks and with battling feelings of grief, I desperately needed to develop a better plan for “self-care”. Which is easier said than done; I’d ran all the miles, written down my worries, focused on events, but never actually allowed myself the simplicity of just freeing my mind.
Which is why, It’s so important for me to share my personal journey. My mission is to help more people understand just how underrated swimming is in relating to improving overall mental health and well-being. During my childhood, I loved swimming, I would spend hours in the pool on holiday and wouldn’t dream of missing swimming lessons at school. Overjoyed by my ability to swim a length fully clothed, collecting bricks from the bottom of the pool and fulfilling the objective of attaining a new certificate. During my teenage years, I lost interest and as a young adult, heading to the pool was at the bottom of my “To Do” list.
Katie is wearing the Funika Pengoo Parade single strap swimsuit.
Fast forward 10 years and I found myself at my local pool, I’d agreed to enter my first ever Open Water Swimming Event with absolutely zero prior experience and I was determined to succeed. But what I want you to know, is that success isn’t actually measured by how far you swim, how fast you swim, or how you look in a swimming costume and/or wetsuit. Success is found by pushing past your personal limits and how good you feel as a result of swimming.
Alongside this, there are many reasons Swimming is great for improving mental health such as:
Swimming brings people together - It’s a great chance to fit in a workout, followed by a coffee or simply a catch up in the Jacuzzi (if your local pool has one). Or by taking an Aqua fitness class, which is not only kind to your joints but nearly always succeeds in bringing a smile to my face.
A recent survey uncovered the fact that 43% of people who swim on a regular basis feel happier.
Swimming has been proven to help combat stress, and I find that being in the water helps me loosen up not only my body but my mind at that the same time.
Exercise is a proven way to release endorphins, which triggers a positive feeling in your body and mind.
When I completed my first ever 800m open water swim, I felt elation like never before, I’d found a new outlet and freedom from my overcrowded mind. Open Water Swimming made me feel alive, I’d spring out of bed, ready to explore new waters, set new goals, and most importantly, find some peace. Of course, there would be times when it was cold, choppy and tough going, but it never once felt impossible or like it was a waste of my time. The best way for me to describe swimming? “Me Time”. When I swim, I feel completely free and untroubled, I can focus on the sound of my breathing and break free from all the chaos that surrounds me.
Whilst admittedly this isn’t the ideal time of year for open water swimming, I have found great joy by settling into an early morning swim routine. I do understand that this might not work for everyone’s timetables, but I find that by starting the day with a gentle swim massively improves my mood. Helps me wake up and feel more refreshed and ready for a day of deadlines, piles of paperwork and drawn out meetings.
Next time you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, or troubled by your anxious mind, consider taking yourself for a swim. Even if it’s only for 20 minutes, it’s not about swimming for a long time, but more about making the most of your time. I sincerely hope that you can find some joy and tranquillity through swimming.