Swimming for Sanity: Where Blue is a Wonderful State of Mind
By Christina Pasetta
We live for liquid. Its power to keep us (quite literally) afloat in heavier times, cool when things get fired up, clarity for the muddled, and quenched when dry spells come and go.
“Research has shown that being near, in, on or under water can provide a long list of benefits for our mind and body… lowering stress and anxiety, increasing an overall sense of well-being and happiness, a lower heart and breathing rate, and safe, better workouts.” -Wallace J. Nichols “Blue Mind”
Although I didn’t know it, I lived this research, never straying far from the ocean and the healing effects of water. I was conceived on an island, raised by the shore, and married at Nichols’ Davenport getaway where the sea meets the redwoods. The “Blue Mind” concept resonates for me and the people I encounter. We begin our lives within a cozy womb, floating free and relying on our Mother’s nourishment. Why stop this feeling? Recreate the wonderful feeling of weightlessness atop the water, absorbing the awesome nutrients and minerals of Mother Earth and the sun (Vitamin D).
While witnessing a beautiful sunset on the Pacific is calming indeed, what better than entering the rose-colored reflection, ending the day with a glassy surf session.
Our tight-knit friend group of LA transplants have a tradition of a New Years ocean plunge, refreshing our senses and washing clean our slates.
More frequently, what better way to begin a day, letting the shower and steam surround you in a reassuring cascade of cleanliness?
Water keeps us present. Previously, technology had been kept at bay with its water incompatibility, but new advances have allowed the busyness of our tech to infiltrate the meditations of water. Given the choice, few regular morning swimmers would invite distractions to the muted abyss below the surface, nor would those feeling at one with the waves let their mind wander with multitasking.
Water, though calming, can be turbulent. Learn to ride the waves of change, not fight them.
Water provides buoyancy. College is a particularly difficult transition for many, including myself, from childhood to adulthood, navigating the independent waters of responsibility, time-management, and studies. I’d often find a blissful calm in an early morning swim after pulling an all-nighter, instantly recalibrating from anxious to resolute. These swims great for balancing the stress of school with the need for sensory deprivation. We all seek structure to counter the complicated, and also staying committed to a sport, waterpolo, kept my days scheduled in an otherwise free-wheeling collegiate experience. Life requires a bit a buoyancy, rising above the sinking feelings that creep in.
A life in water can provide the perfect sanity-saving buoy.
Water moves us. The benefits of exercise for mental health and clarity are numerous. Swimming stimulates our muscles and our minds, inducing a state of happiness via hormonal response. As we age, swimming can be a great, low-impact way to maintain muscle mass, and consequently keep our positive vibes flowing.
We will delve deeper into the benefits of senior swimming in another post, so stay sharp, mindful, and just keep swimming with The Swimming Swan!
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