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Woman Wild Swimming

The Healing Power of Wild Swimming

Have you ever craved the clean feeling of a fresh start? Today, we’re diving into a simple way that lets any one of us reconnect with the present moment and rise up to the surface with a renewed sense of wonder for the world around us. Whether you’re coping with loss, healing from trauma, or simply trying to survive the daily stresses of adulting, there is a way we can take a break that will calm the momentary chaos. Are you ready to jump in and find out how?

Think back to long summer days when you were a child. Do you remember the feeling of the breeze hitting your skin in the warm afternoon sun after jumping in the neighborhood swimming hole? Your lungs filled with air as you emerged from a record-breaking hold-your-breath challenge, and you could feel your scalp tingle as water dripped down from the top of your head. Oh to be alive!

There is something purely wild, free, and refreshing about submerging yourself into the water and coming back out again. And thankfully, this feeling can be recreated at any age, if you only make the time for it.

So, let’s all take a deep breath and soak up a story of reflection and relief as we learn more about the amazing healing powers of wild swimming and hydrotherapy!

Woman Wild Swimming
Source: Madrona Rose // Unsplash

Ever had the urge to submerge?

Oftentimes throughout my life, I’ve found myself wishing for a cool dip. I never really thought too much of this inward desire. I chalked it up to my body always running warm, or just being what my grandparents called a “water baby”. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that this feeling was more about the yearning to feel refreshed. To feel weightless. To feel like I had the ability to start over, even if only for a moment.

Turns out, it has been scientifically proven that submerging your body in water can have health benefits for the body and mind. Warm water submersion can relieve pain and relax your muscles, 1 while cold water baths can reduce the level of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body. This can result in decreased inflammation and can even help with depression and anxiety! 2

‌The method of simply putting your feet in water has been used for centuries to calm the nervous system and improve brain function! If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Monticello, you’ll see watermarks next to Thomas Jefferson’s bed where he used to keep a footbath. He was known to have used a cold foot bath every morning for 60 years to maintain his health and wellbeing. As one of the founding fathers of the United States, it’s safe to assume he had a busy mind. But he was really onto something there with the foot baths!

So what do we do when the sea of worries seems endless?

Anyone who has been a part of the workforce for a significant period of time might feel like they are drowning in a sea of expectations and obligations. That’s exactly how Laura Sanderson felt before she experienced a life-altering event that sent her physical and emotional health into a downward spiral.

In the inspiring short video we’re about to watch by Friction Collective, Laura describes the epiphany that led to her path back to healing. Here’s how swimming out in the wild has helped her not only overcome illness but changed her perspective on life. We guarantee you’ll be searching for the nearest lake after watching!

Via: Friction Collective 3

‌If you loved this video, you can find more of Friction Collective’s moving short films by checking out their YouTube channel.

Reflection and reconnection.

What can we learn from Laura’s experience to make our own lives flow a little more freely?

When the weight of the world feels heavy on our shoulders, there’s a way we can feel refreshed, even if it’s just for a minute.

First, try to identify the things that are the root cause of your anxieties. If it’s something that you can change or wrangle to be more manageable, by all means—do that! But if you need a break from things that you don’t have much control over, here are some ways to take the edge off.

Go for a swim! Find a lake, pond, or ocean, and jump in! From the sounds of the running water to the sun’s vitamin D, the healing power of nature has many benefits to offer. Have you ever regretted playing outside before? Nope!

While natural bodies of water are ideal for soaking up the wonders of the wild, man-made bodies of water can be healing too. Find a pool or big bathtub! Even taking a shower purely to feel the water on your skin can have a healing effect. (I like to take a real hot shower and then splash cold water on my face when I get out. It feels amazing, try it!)

Look online to see if any of your local spas offer float therapy! Basking in these personal float pods is very relaxing. Plus, it’s been shown to reduce pain, increase creativity, and result in better sleep.

Just keep swimming.

No matter which method you choose, it’s important to take that mindful time for yourself. When your body, mind, and spirit are well-hydrated, the world will feel less chaotic. When you are less bound up by your worries, you’re freer to notice the lovely possibilities and connections that life offers.

Life is short—feel the water on your skin, soak up the moment, take the plunge, and make a splash! You won’t regret it.

Keep dreaming and notice the beauty around you!


Want a few more stories of the healing power of nature? Check out these articles from our library:

How a Magpie Named Penguin Helped a Family Find Life after Loss

After mother and adventurer Sam Bloom became paraplegic in a sudden accident, her sense of self was erased. But just as she was losing hope in the future, a little magpie waddled into her life and changed everything!

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Celebrating Our Most Under-Appreciated Neighbors!

When you think of cities, trees probably aren’t the first things that come to mind. But did you know that trees are a vital part of creating healthy urban spaces? Urban forests have been used for thousands of years to keep city-dwellers healthy, and now we are rediscovering their benefits!

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Why We All Need More Awe!

Do we already have the key to healing what divides us? The answer is YES, if only we learn to harness the power of awe! Find out how.

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  1. Physiostas. “The Benefits of Hydrotherapy (Exercising in Water) and How It Can Help Your Rehabilitation.” Physiotas, 30 Jan. 2018, physiotas.com.au/hydrotherapy-benefits-exercising-water/. Accessed 13 July 2021.
  2. Bongiorno, Peter. “A Cold Splash–Hydrotherapy for Depression and Anxiety.” Psychology Today, 2014, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inner-source/201407/cold-splash-hydrotherapy-depression-and-anxiety. Accessed 13 July 2021.
  3. Friction Collective. “HYDROTHERAPY. Overcoming a Life-Changing Illness through Wild Swimming.” YouTube, 14 May 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Oe5Qnip9Bs. Accessed 13 July 2021.
Image: Renee Laroche-Rheaume

Renee Laroche-Rheaume

Outreach Coordinator & Writer

Renee is a graduate of FIDM, and has held jobs in several industries such as apparel manufacturing, retail, professional office work, and even hospitality. Her creative outlook, wide variety of experiences, and desire to notice the beauty around us make her a great addition to the Goodness Exchange team.

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