Find Your Happy
Just over 12 months ago I rediscovered wild swimming. Well, I say rediscovered but it wasn't called that when I last did it and it wasn't a whole big movement like it is today. For me, the growth in popularity came off the back of the pandemic and essentially not being able to do the things we usually do for fun, exercise, therapy and so on. I had a lot of spare time on my hands during the pandemic, and like many I evaluated a lot of things in my life and realised there were a lot of things I did by habit, to please others, sense of duty, whatever it was. But I didn't necessarily enjoy them, they didn't necessarily serve a purpose to me or those around me. And that's not to say everything has to have a purpose, but the place I was at the time, and the time restraints of my pre-pandemic life, meant that I wasn't getting what I needed out of my activities. And I wanted that to change.
I have always enjoyed being around water - not necessarily the sea - sand gets everywhere and it's just high maintenance! And crowds. And tourists (I spent 19 years living in North Wales). But rivers, lakes and particularly waterfalls - oh they do recharge my soul. And forests - but that's a whole different conversation. So coming out of the last lockdown, I started getting into wild swimming, open water swimming, cold water swimming, whatever you want to call it. The bottom line is, I discovered a lot of therapeutic value to this pastime for me personally. If you Google the benefits you will find lots of anecdotal and scientific evidence of the benefits that range across physical, mental, scientific and clinical benefits, some widespread, some personal. For me, there's three key things:
Coldwater therapy - I'm always hot, hardly feel the cold, a t-shirts in December kinda gal. So from a purely practical perspective, this helps me cool down and I love the feel of cold on my arms and legs.
Adventure - many locations are a little off the beaten path but well worth the adventure. Waterfalls in particular combine a bit of physical exercise with some astonishing natural views.
Mindfulness - there's something soothing and calming about being in the water - even with a group of people.
Community - I discovered the Bluetits Chill Swimmers movement and joined the local Facebook groups and oh my, what a fantastic world this opened up to me. I've made some amazing friends and found some extraordinary open spaces.
The picture here is of my swim location just before I got in for a Harvest Moon dip. So this is another benefit; not only the opportunity for beautiful pictures such as this and discovering venues I didn't know existed, but also celebrating natural events and taking time to reflect on the events of the week. Particularly this week. With the death of the Queen, the death of sled dog racing legend Lance Mackey, and the change in Prime Minister. It definitely felt like a time for gentle reflection.
So this is a little snapshot of my journey, and this was the right journey for me. The reason I am sharing it is to encourage others to find your happy, to invest time, energy, passion in your mindfulness and finding what recharges your batteries, clears your mind.