Wild swimming, also known as open water swimming, is the act of swimming in natural bodies of water such as loches, lakes, rivers, and the ocean. It has gained popularity in recent years due to its numerous physical and mental health benefits. In this article, we will explore how wild swimming can improve your mental health and overall well-being and the benefits of wild swimming for mental health.
Reduces stress and anxiety
One of the most significant benefits of wild swimming is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. When we swim in open water (any and all forms of exercise), our brains release endorphins, also known as the “feel-good” chemicals. These endorphins help to improve our mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Additionally, the natural surroundings of open water, wilderness, fresh air, cold water, community etc can have a calming effect on our minds. The sound of the water and the beauty of the surrounding nature can help to clear our thoughts and provide a sense of peace, wellbeing and tranquillity.
Increases self-confidence and body positivity
Wild swimming can also boost self-confidence and body positivity. When we challenge ourselves to swim in open water, we may feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. This can translate to increased self-confidence in other areas of our lives.
Furthermore, wild swimming allows us to embrace and appreciate our bodies for what they can do, rather than solely focusing on their appearance. The freedom and acceptance we feel when swimming in nature can help to promote positive body image. The open water swimming community welcomes all body sizes and shapes. you don’t have to be out swimming 1000KM every session, just having a quick dip, a chat with friends before a cup of tea and cake can make the worlds of difference to your health and wellbeing.
Provides an escape from technology and daily life
In today’s world, it can be challenging to disconnect from technology and the constant barrage of information and stimuli. Wild swimming provides an opportunity to disconnect and escape from the stresses of daily life and technology. When we immerse ourselves in open water, we can fully focus on the present moment and our surroundings. This mindfulness can help to improve our mental clarity and overall well-being. But do remember to take your phone with you in a dry bag or in your tow float, these can be incredibly useful for notifying you of time in water and alerting others if you find yourself in danger.
Promotes a sense of community
Wild swimming can also foster a sense of community and connection with others. Many open water swimming groups and events exist, providing an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and make new friends. The supportive and inclusive nature of these communities can help to improve our mental health by providing a sense of belonging and connection. These groups can cater for those training for triathlons as well as those just looking for like minded folks that want to have a wee adventure, a quick dip, a chat and tea and cake afterwards. Check FB for a group near you.
Swimming in open water can also improve sleep. The physical activity and endorphins released during wild swimming can help to tire the body and mind, leading to better sleep. Additionally, the calming effect of nature and the disconnection from technology can contribute to improved sleep quality.
Increases creativity and problem-solving skills
The mental benefits of wild swimming don’t stop at stress reduction and improved sleep. Research has shown that spending time in nature can increase creativity and problem-solving skills. The fresh air and natural surroundings of open water can provide a new perspective and inspire new ideas. The challenges and problem-solving skills required for open water swimming can also help to improve these skills in other areas of our lives.
Enhances overall well-being
The physical and mental benefits of wild swimming combine to enhance our overall well-being. When we feel good physically and mentally, we are more likely to engage in activities that promote well-being and lead a more fulfilling life. Wild swimming can provide an opportunity to break out of our daily routine and try something new, adding variety and excitement to our lives. And for the adventurous it may even lead to winter swimming and cold water immersion!
In conclusion, wild swimming can have numerous mental health benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-confidence and body positivity, providing an escape from technology and daily life, promoting a sense of community, improving sleep, increasing creativity and problem-solving skills. Check out our open water gear guide, as well as our articles on Tow floats, dry robes, gloves and more.