‘Of course you’re a cold swimmer, you’re a middle-aged woman!’
This cold immersion malarky has become quite the trend over the last year. A free, socially distanced activity that forms communities and provides health benefits aplenty, I too am now a regular cold swimmer. Every morning at 7am, I throw on my swimming cossie, walk down to the local quayside in Devon and climb down the stairs into a forever changing sea.
The tides are a marvel to me, changing constantly and dramatically. One morning I will only be ankle-deep in water and need to wade right out whereas other mornings the sea will be splashing violently over the pavement where I normally dump my dry-robe. Sometimes Mother Nature puts on the most glorious Sunrise show, sometimes hundreds of seagulls serenade me from above, and sometimes it’s dark and still and frankly rather uninviting.
But it’s become a ritual, a must-do daily practice that I now love. My body craves the cold and no longer is my breath brutally yanked from my lungs. As I descend those stairs, there’s an inner knowing of what will happen. My legs start to tingle and as I push myself under the water it’s like a large cathartic exhale. Sometimes we joke about the ‘fire in our bellies’ but mainly we are quiet. Our dips are brief, followed by a few Wim Hoff exercises much to the delight or perhaps horror of the odd passer-by. But above all it’s my moment to connect. I connect with nature and I connect with my fellow swimmers. The cheery hellos, brief exchange of stories, or daily words of wisdom are the most joyous way to start my day and long may it last.
A Scientific Reports’ study showed that spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is directly associated with reduced feelings of fatigue and anxiety. Additionally, cold water immersion is recognised as an effective stress therapy. It activates your endorphins which is the chemical produced by the brain to make you feel good.
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