Can swimming help mental health? The short answer? Yes. Well, according to recent research showing that over 1.4million adults have found swimming to help with their mental well-being. I’ve joined up with Swim England to share my story about swimming, in the hope it inspires others to give it a go.
My swimming story
I have always suffered from mental health issues since I was at school. I had anxiety and low confidence, which has still been very much a part of my life into adulthood. You’d think I’m super confident, but I’m just not, and my anxiety has been so bad in the past that I’ve curled up and cried because the worry got so extreme. All this escalated further during my epilepsy diagnosis. I was textbook depressed. I didn’t want to get up in the morning, I just couldn’t function and I was a mess. Now, I’m not quite sure how it happened but I decided to enter a triathlon in the hope to give me focus, but also raise money for an epilepsy charity who helped me. The issue was I didn’t do much swimming anymore, so I needed to re-learn, which my wonderful husband helped me with.
How swimming has helped
Before I knew it I was going once a week to every other day. I loved it. Sometimes I’d go to train properly, other times I’d literally go for a lazy tranquil swim. I soon realised that by me swimming I was not overthinking, which is the main cause of my anxiety. I was literally over analysing every part of my life, so my mind would never switch off. But swimming? That was the only activity where I didn’t even let worries bother me, you might say they just floated away.
Perhaps there is something in the rhythm of swimming that helps, I’m not sure, but I know for me, I’m too absorbed in what I’m doing in the pool to even worry. Thing is, the more I went the more the anxiety was reduced out of the pool – it was having quite a positive impact and I was for the first time in my life feeling confident.
Swimming is my love
I would swim every day if I could, but I’m just too busy, but that isn’t a bad thing because it’s almost like a reward when I do. Swimming is ‘my’ time to myself. My Dad is an amazing swimmer and my Grandad also used to be a swimmer for the county, so little did I know but the love of swimming is in my blood, it’s only since 2014 did I discover it! I’m thrilled I have started swimming because it has helped my mental well-being so much. Honestly, swimming just makes me glow!
Want to swim for mental health?
If you’re reading this and even contemplating swimming – then that is amazing! If you don’t swim and you’re nervous, firstly consider some lessons for confidence. I have a friend who took swimming lessons as an adult and loved it because they made some amazing friends, but it really helped them with their swimming. I felt worried to start with so went with my husband who eased me into it, so perhaps go with a friend. If you can swim but you’re still unsure, don’t panic. A lot of people assume a pool is full of swim schools doing diving and non-stop lengths, well it isn’t.
All abilities, shapes and sizes swim, just do what works for you! Start by maybe floating about, then go into a smooth and slow breaststroke. You can always grab one of the floats that your leisure centre will provide and use that until you feel comfortable. Honestly, this is the best kind of activity for so many things!
Swim England #LoveSwimming
If you want to find out more please do have a look at the Swim England website about this amazing campaign. You can also find out where swimming lessons are, what pools are close by and of course, anything else you could possibly want to know about swimming!