THE HEALING POWER OF WATER
"Chronic stress and anxiety cause or intensify a range of physical and mental afflictions, including depression, ulcers, colitis, heart disease, and more. Being on, in, and near water can be among the most effective ways of reducing stress and anxiety".
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from Monday the 13th to Sunday the 19th May 2019.
Stress, anxiety, depression and all associated conditions are debilitating. Almost all of us know someone, or have suffered to a degree one of the above. We live in a world that increasingly relies on technology to function and this has removed our ability to connect with nature, as we strive to keep up with the demands of modern day living. This week, The Wild Side looks at some of the people and groups that are working to combat, what is becoming an epidemic of unprecedented proportion.
Blue Mind Health
Some months ago I discovered a book and a movement that helped me to understand why I have spent most of my life seeking out water and trying to live as close to the sea as I possibly can.
“Blue Mind” explores the emotional, behavioural, psychological and physical connections that keep humans so enchanted with water. Written by marine biologist and turtle enthusiast Wallace J. Nichols, he examines seas and oceans, lakes and rivers, swimming pools and even taking a bath! The blue mind that Wallace refers to, is the neurological, psychological and emotional changes our brains experience when we are close to water. He draws on science and art, hard data and anecdote, to explain our blue mind in detail. Not just what it is, but how we can enter into this state and — perhaps most important — why we should do so.
Our blue mind goes beyond just feeling good. Wallace explains that "Our blue mind is up against two other common states. The red mind, which is used to describe a stressed, anxious, overactive yet underproductive state and the grey mind, which is numb, lethargic, demotivated and unsatisfied. Red and grey mind states are products of our modern lifestyles, habits and choices. Blue mind is a natural state that we all instinctively know but that many of us have forgotten".
His book can be bought from Amazon, or directly from his website wallacejnichols.org
LIVE THE SALTY LIFE
Since 2006, prescriptions of anti-depressants have more than doubled. Patients may take these drugs for many years, with little or no effect, as they simply numb the symptoms, rather than dealing with the route problem. And the side effects of coming off them, in many cases are horrific.
Outdoor exercise and the companionship of fellow swimmers can massively improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. There is growing evidence that cold water swimming and cold water submersion can help to combat the symptoms, while the connection to water and meeting new friends, can help to treat underlying causes.
Here's the science. Immersion in cold water evokes a stress response: a set of physiological and hormonal reactions that evolved millions of years ago to cope with a wide range of potential threats. But, if you immerse yourself only a few times in water of 15C or less, this stress response is reduced.
I recently met Kath Ferguson - one of the founders of Salty Sea Birds and Sea Birds Ltd. The Seabirds met in the sea, Summer 2017. Kath and her co-founders Ruth and Cat, experienced significant changes in their lives, resulting in daily sea swims. She explained "We all needed solace from the rat race and some life-changing curve balls and we found this in the sea and from each other. The simple joy of meeting, getting in the cold water together, being outside and doing something playful had a really powerful effect on all of us. Whilst chatting, bobbing, changing, faffing and drinking tea, Seabirds was formed; in the sea, where all the best ideas are born! We decided to build a business with a moral code; ethical trading, organic, anti-waste and pro-people business, with a trading arm generating alternative funding for charities and local community groups.
We’ve all noticed the huge benefits that being in, on, or near the sea has had on both our physical and mental health and well being, not to mention the ‘free fun!’ Creating a way for others to experience these benefits was a natural next step. We recognised the huge need for salted wellbeing and now Seabirds has taken its fledgling flight"
These ladies swim all year round come rain or shine, hail or snow, and have a growing following, with offshoots such as the "Kemp Town Kippers" and their own secret language for certain aspects of feminine life.
They have also joined forces with our favourite Brighton photographer Coral Evans aka Salt Images, to bring together a captivating visual tale called "Twelve Moons". With two moons down and ten to go, you will have to wait until next year for the unveiling of what promises to be a stunning collection of photos, with an equally beautiful narrative.
Wild Swimmer and founder of the Outdoor Swimming Society - Kate Rew, recently made this beautiful short film entitled "Chasing The Sublime", with good friend Kari Furre. Shot on location at Loch Hourn, Scotland in 2018, it's a beautiful tale of friendship, endurance and courage.
MIND BODY SUP
Red Snappers Sports very foundations are buried in the belief that being on water, has massive benefits, both physically and mentally. As a co-founder of the business, I have fairly well documented my battle with cancer and the affects physically and mentally it has had on my body and mind. I have been told that holistic treatments such as yoga and meditation are the key to improving my health. But the reality is, the only time I really feel the "mindfullness" state that I seek, is when I am alone on the water with nothing but my SUP, paddle and the surrounding wild life for company.
You can read more about the reasons it puts such a smile on your face, in one of my earlier blogs "Reasons to be cheerful one, two - sea"
Red Snapper Sports invites you to do something different this week, by getting out on the water, in the water or if you really are feeling brave - under the water. Einstein was quoted as saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Well we couldn't agree more.
Finally we leave you with a song that however you are feeling right now - will guarantee to put a smile on your face!