Mental Health and Cold Water Swimming - What is it really like?
At the very start, last November, in my shorts, I started wading in to the freezing water, it was indeed freezing. My hands were so cold, they felt like they were burning, it seems like a contradiction but that is what it feels like.
I lasted 40 seconds.
My first immediate purchase was a pair of 5mm neoprene gloves, it turned out, this is the key, as long as my hands were not in direct contact, my times submersed built up and up until eventually, in the depths of winter, a 20 minute swim is achieveable and enjoyable.
It takes a long time to build up tolerance but the enjoyment and physical and mental benefits are immediate.
I still get the immediate cold shock as I enter the water and dip my upper body but that is the reset and what kicks the experience into life.
The video is about 10 months in and shows what a 7/8 degree sea dip looks like after 20 minutes, one thing I will say is that I have always enjoyed my swimming and dipping, every single time, I have no control, my brain shoots the dopamine and serotonin, lowering my cortisol every time.
It is also an incredibly freeing, mindful experience, giving a sense of happiness and achievement, that is why it is a great morning exercise, who would not want to feel free right at the start of a day?
I can promise you that it will take time to build up your tolerance, but you will get an amazing feeling right from the start and the community around cold water and wild swimming is so supportive.
What have you got to lose? Do it safely remember but it is a wonderful way to build your physical and mental health.