Staying active is undoubtedly relevant for one’s health, but being mentally healthy is as essential as well. And swimming can help with that.
Your mental health is continually changing, and various factors and life situations impact it in negative and positive ways.
Stress resulting from money issues, broken relationships, death of a loved one, or work problems could all result in mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. Aging can also impact our mental health as well.
Mental Health Defined
Like our physical health, we also need to care for our mental health. Having good mental health means being capable of feeling, reacting, and thinking in ways that you usually want and need to live your life. However, if you undergo a phase of poor mental health, you may notice the ways you’re continually feeling, thinking, or reacting to become hard or even unbearable to deal with. This can feel just as devastating as a physical condition, or worse.
There is an estimated one in four individuals will develop a mental health condition in a given year. Common conditions include anxiety and depression, while less common conditions are bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Mental health conditions affect anyone and may have a variety of causes that can be interrelated and complicated. In most instances, no one can be precisely certain of the cause of a specific problem is, and it is highly likely that it is a combination of many factors.
Swimming Enhances One’s Mental Health
- Swimming has been proven to significantly decrease anxiety and depressive symptoms for over 1 million adults in some parts of Europe. Additionally, more than 500,000 British citizens with mental health illnesses had reported that their visits to the therapist and other medical health professionals had significantly decreased when they started swimming.
- Swimming helps with relaxation.
- Being fit and active has a positive effect on mental health. It improves mood, lowers one’s risk of developing depression, improves sleep patterns, decreases stress, and improves self-esteem.
Guidelines For Swimmers With Mental Health Illnesses
- Start slow and improve on your swim levels at a speed that is suitable for you. Swimming a few laps can already provide a good energy boost.
- Look for somebody you trust who can guide you with getting started. You can bring him or her to the pool first, where you can do a few sessions and get used to the environment.
- Find groups that are also interested in swimming regularly. Some pools provide time for these groups to swim and improve their mental health.
“I’m insecure about my body, and I don’t feel good about wearing a suit.”
- If you’re not comfortable at first, you can always wear cover-ups or swim shirts to help you get by initially.
- Be assured that you are not alone. A lot of people share the same worries about their bodies, and everyone has to begin somewhere.
- You can find men or women-only swimming groups supporting those who don’t feel comfortable about swimming with the opposite sex.
- Some swimming pools are okay with you bringing your towel or bathrobe at the poolside. Ask the receptionist before doing so.
- If you have panic attacks or anxiety, you will find that swimming sometimes will cause you to feel like you are experiencing a panic attack. You may feel like you are shortness of breath, increased heart rate, dizziness, or feeling shaky.
- When you are swimming, it might be easy to have rapid breaths, mainly when the water is colder than expected. It would be best if you test it out initially by dipping your hand or your toe and climbing down the pool slowly.
- Begin slowly so that you will find the difference between the physical impact of swimming and that of a panic attack. In case you have a panic attack, try to get out of the pool and look for a quiet area where you can get your composure back, or else you can stay at the shallow part of the collection.
- Take deep, gradual breaths during breaks from your laps. This will help decrease the risk of hyperventilation.
Things To Avoid When Swimming With A Mental Health Illness
- Avoid things or situations that cause triggers. For instance, if you are not comfortable with crowds, go swimming when there are not so many people, like early morning or late evening.
- Your medications may determine the kind and level of swimming that is safe for you. Consult your physician or mental health provider about the swimming level that is suitable for you, particularly if you encounter some side effects.
- Excessive swimming is not good at all and may even cause self-harm. If your hobby is beginning to control your life, if swimming is becoming more vital than family, friends, and career, or if you feel extremely anxious if you don’t get to swim, you could be experiencing a training or exercise compulsion, which is sometimes referred to as exercise addiction. You must talk to your doctor about it.