How Sea Swimming Can Benefit Mental Health
Just Google 'mental health benefits of swimming in the sea' and you will get thousands of positive results from all manner of well known and accredited sources as to the positive health benefits of swimming and especially swimming in the open ocean.
The mineral rich content of seawater acts as a natural tonic for the body and mind. According to wellness pioneer and author J.I Rondale Magnesium content in seawater depresses nerves to relieve nervous irritability for an increased sense of calmness.
In an article in the the MailOnline website detailing the helath benefits of sea swimming, PhD student Naomi Collier, setup a trial which used sea swimming as a treatment for depression. While some elements of the reaction of the human body and mind to the effects of sea swimming ar not fully understood, it is becoming clear there is a direct correlation of the link between inflammation and ailments such as the common cold and the body's ability to fight off infections. The article continues:
Earlier this year, we tested the theory for BBC One’s The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs. We put a young lady, who was desperate to get off her antidepressants, through a cold adaptation programme one day and then took her for a swim in a lake the next. The transformation into someone bursting with energy and smiles was staggering. She had been taking antidepressants for eight years but within four months she was off them and managing her symptoms with swims in a local lake.
A lot of mental health issues can be attributed to stress. Stress from everyday life. Stress from work. Stress from financial pressures, social pressures, even social media.
The very act of sea swimming in the open ocean focuses your mind on the moment. You have to - you are in an extreme environment that is alien to us as human beings and you need to concentrate on the moment in order to adapt. This concentration of the mind, on the moment, is a form of meditation, in which you are aware of your surroundings but not of life's distractions. The result of this is a detachment from the stresses of everyday life, and a rested and more peaceful state of mind.
The effect of being weightless in the sea can also have a calming effect on the mind, even changing or slowing down brain waves.
Other similar research and personal stories are plentiful and easy to lookup in various medical sources.
"Barbara Jennings is unequivocal that swimming in the cold waters of Tooting Lido helped her deal with depression. “When you’re getting into and swimming in cold water, it’s very difficult to actually think about anything else,” she said. “You are totally focused on the physical sensations, on the effort of will required to get yourself in and keep yourself in, on the effect that cold water is having on your body.”
It is a powerful feeling; that your body works despite it all. The physical demands of struggling against the piercing cold can release you from what’s going on inside your head.
That sense of 'being in the moment’ was helpful for another grieving swimmer:“When all your senses are being fired there is little space for extraneous thought. I found that dedicating each swim to a particular memory helped me to move forwards a bit.”
So there you are then: swimming can alleviate the effects of depression without the use of tablets and is actually good for our mind and soul.
We certainly all come out of the ocean after a good sea swimming session all buzzing with energy and enthusiasm and it is a great way to set yourself up with a positive attitude for the whole day.