Dive into soulful swimming this summer
Going for a morning swim has long been heralded for its ability to get the blood flowing and working muscle groups you didn’t even know existed, but its mental benefits, feeding off the restorative properties of water, are often overlooked in favour of myriad physical attributes.
In fact, mindfulness and swimming perfectly complement each other. As Tessa Wardley says in The Mindful Art of Wild Swimming, from the very off, you can use the act of taking off your clothes to signify peeling off the layers of your usual routine, getting ready to leave the everyday stresses behind and allowing your mind to focus only on what lies ahead.
According to research, swimming can help reduce stress, lower anxiety and combat depression, with the sheer act of being surrounded by water diffusing your senses and relaxing your body.
Open water swimming in particular can free your mind and offers you the chance to engage with yourself, something we are all guilty of neglecting.
The Outdoor Swimming Society suggests this form of the activity even allows you to experience complete mindfulness by pushing all distractions to one side and getting you to focus on what you are doing right there and then, providing a natural high and improving cognition.
And if the mindfulness aspect doesn’t entice you to don your costume, the fact swimmers are twice as likely to enjoy a good night’s sleep might pique your interest. They are also less prone to waking early or to suffer from insomnia.
While the physical and mental benefits are copious, they’re nothing without taking the right approach before you dive in, and fuelling correctly before you take the plunge is a vital component in ensuring you reap the rewards in mind, body and soul your efforts deserve.
A good, protein-heavy breakfast, taken ideally at least two hours before you swim, will provide you with the energy you need to keep on making those tough strokes while others are just wearily crawling out of bed.
Breakfast dishes like smoothies or porridge are ideal to adapt to suit your needs, containing fruit, nuts, seeds and oats which will give you the perfect pre-swim boost. Supplementing with flavoured or unflavoured protein, like Pulsin’s plant-based soya, pea or hemp, will ensure you are fully fuelled for the task ahead, meaning a lack of energy will be the furthest thing from your mind and you can surrender to your senses and be at one with nature.
Try Pulsin’s Protein Packed Vegan Smoothie or Easy Bircher Porridge and prepare to make a splash in the many open water venues in and around London, like Hampstead Heath Ponds, Ham Lake in Richmond and Serpentine in Hyde Park.
And if you allow yourself to let go, you will find yourself front crawling, butterflying or indeed, doggy paddling, towards your very own place of Zen.