Let me pose a couple of scenarios for you; There’s a big day ahead, the fridge is empty, you’ve got a mountain of washing at home and it feels like every single e-mail you write starts with “I apologize for the delay“. Or maybe you didn’t sleep that well the night before because you were tossing and turning, thinking about all the things you need to do and situations you have no control over? I know how this feels only too well and I’m going to assume that you do too.
Over the year’s I’ve discovered that the very best way for me to deal with “those scenarios” is with exercise. Over the past year, I’d lost my love for running and started to find my wellbeing suffered as a result. Then one e-mail changed everything, I was challenged to swim 800m, like all good plans and challenges, I said YES and then worked out how on earth I was going to achieve this. I dug out my swimsuit, grabbed some goggles and made a promise to myself that I’d pack a bag and head to the pool before work the following morning. As I arrived at my local pool my dear friend anxiety reared its ugly head, but I marched on in quietly muttering to myself “I got up early for this, I’m going in”.
The first few lengths were tough, I was out of practice and struggling to get in a groove. I decided to stick to breaststroke, which is my ‘go to’ stroke and I find myself most at ease with it. I continued to swim and before I knew it I had reached my 800m goal. I left the pool beaming with joy, my first training session was finished and I was riding the high of post-swim endorphins. As the weeks passed, I realized that swimming was not only proving good for my physical health but my mental health too. I rediscovered my love for exercise, I found the courage to book a counseling session and when she asked me when I most at ease and most like me, I replied that It was when I was swimming. The thing is, swimming gives me an opportunity to think and unshuffle all the problems circling in my mind. After a whirlwind 18 months, with the loss of a close family member, getting married and chasing my dream job, I really needed to do something for me.
After six weeks of training my 800m event was a huge success, it felt like the door to a whole new world had been opened for me and I had a renewed sense of purpose. I decided to push myself and start working towards my next goal, which ended up being a 2km event at Rutland Water. Whilst the jump from swimming 800m, to 2km was tough, I knew that with some determination and time it would be possible, I was surprised by how quickly my body responded to swimming for over an hour. Yet another little reminder that I was stronger than I realized, chances are that you are too!
Mental Health has been one of the biggest topics in 2018, as a nation, we are finally understanding and paying more attention than ever to the connection between mind and body. This is why the latest Swim England campaign is so important, I’m not encouraging you to swim so you can ‘burn calories‘ or ‘look great in a bikini’, you’re worth more than that. All I ask is that you consider the prospect of making some time for a swim, even if it’s only 20 minutes, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised just how good you feel as a result.
Do you make time for swimming?