Jumping into the sea in winter is the most alive and present I ever feel. I get in fast – a dangerous approach if you’re a beginner – when the cold shock response provokes an uncontrollable urge to inhale.
Underwater, I feel an intense mixture of burning pain and, even after doing this for years, a little panic. But it’s the only time the anxious negative chatter in my head is truly silenced.
After two minutes, as my skin reaches the same temperature as the water, I start to feel comfortable and my breathing slows. After even a brief swim, I feel elated for hours and calm for days.
Like many other people who swim in cold water regularly, I love it, but I also believe it has mental health benefits.
And the first case report on cold water swimming published in British Medical Journal Case Reports shows that it may be an effective treatment for depression.
Photo by VisitLakeland