Emily’s inspiring piece could transform your mental health and willpower- along with the Wim Hof method.
“Usually when I tell people this, they think that I’m mad. But, as always, there is method to the madness” Emily Tisshaw
I have taken up a new hobby. I have started sea swimming. In British seas. In a bikini. In the winter. No wetsuit. Just cold water and a swimsuit. Usually, when I tell people this, they think that I’m mad. But, as always, there is method to the madness.
I began sea swimming at the end of summer last year – as soon as it started getting colder – typical! With all the madness happening in the world, I thought why not try something completely new. The idea came to me after watching a documentary about a man named Wim Hof.
Wim Hof is a Dutch athlete and ice bath enthusiast well known for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures. He’s set world records for swimming underneath ice for long periods of time and also holds the world record for a barefoot half marathon on ice and snow.
I began to feel guilty for all the time I had wasted living within walking distance from the beach and not ever really utilising it. I’ve lived here for three years and have mostly avoided the sea until now. I’m not a person who enjoys being cold and wet. However, after hearing Wim Hof explain that cold water exposure can aid mental health conditions such as anxiety, and with all the anxiety that was surrounding me, I felt it was important to give it a go. Where I live the sea is not as cold as it is in the Netherlands where Wim Hof practices but I do still feel the sting of coldness whenever I plummet myself into the sea. I usually swim around 8am and try to make it down to the beach at least twice weekly. Even the air in the mornings at this time of year can be quite shockingly cold!
Back in August when I started sea swimming the water temperature was 16°C. It’s now (as of January 2021) dropped to 11°C. I can feel that it has become a lot colder but that only makes it more exciting for me. The swims have become addictive – it’s an exhilarating way to start the day!
The documentary explains how cold-water exposure causes us to breathe more rapidly mimicking what the body does when it enters a state of anxiety, but regular cold-water exposure means we can become accustomed to the cold and therefore learn to control our breathing and bring our body back to calm again, which helps us to maintain control over our anxious breathing.
To my surprise I’m not the only person on the beach at 8am mad enough to brave the water. There’s a group of women who call themselves The Blue Tits who are all regular sea swimming fanatics. I’ve made new friends and joined a great community of people.
Since I started, I’ve done over 50 swims and it has really made a difference to my mental attitude; I feel a lot calmer and stronger. As well as the rush, there is something truly magical about being in the open sea.
Find and follow Emily on Instagram: @emalemonpie
Try the Wim Hof method for yourself: https://www.wimhofmethod.com/practice-the-method
“Our world has so much suffering, so much burnout, so much physical and mental disease. Our world is sick, it is suffering, and I feel I’ve found a way to do something about it. We have to reawaken ourselves” – Wim Hof
Do you fancy meeting fellow like minded swimmers in your area? Join the Blue Tits! Become part of a wonderful community: