Embrace life in the pool as a way to clear your mind and feel refreshed for the day ahead. Here are some simple approaches to consider.
Swim Away Your Stress with This Simple Advice
In a noisy and hectic world, how can swimming help you to feel calm? There’s nothing quite like being in the water. While getting some time alone, you can refocus your mind with a gentle swim among the waves. Or, if that doesn’t do it for you, go fast and furious to leave stress in your wake. The real bonus? Rather than wear yourself out, you’ll most likely come away feeling refreshed and pumped for the rest of your day.
Choose a pace that works for you
You step into the pool but don’t have enough puff for your usual workout. Don’t worry. Sometimes it’s better to go with how you feel in the moment and if that means forgetting the drills, then fine. Maybe switch to breaststroke or take longer breaks between lengths. Even the most well-planned training schedules need a little flexibility.
Focus on your breathing
Of course swimming is great for your body, but it brings a whole wave of other benefits too. Feel the air fill your lungs as you glide forwards. Notice how your senses come alive with every passing minute. By growing aware of your physical self, your mind can switch off and allow the outside world to become a distant haze through the window.
Consider some sprints
Head buzzing with your to-do list? Can’t stop worrying about that big meeting? Maybe it’s time to shake off the stress with a new challenge. By throwing yourself into a series of sprints, your mind will have no choice but to focus on the task, thinking of nothing except the expanse of water ahead. ‘I generally work in some sprints if I’m feeling uptight,’ says weekly swimmer Marina Thomas. ‘They make me feel so much better afterwards.’
Go for just 15 minutes
If you feel like you can’t face the pool, make it easy and go for half your usual time. Sometimes only 15 minutes in the water is enough to get back those positive vibes. Even the basic act of floating encourages your brainwaves to slow, encouraging feelings of calm. Alternatively, you could sign up for a group class – the camaraderie of being surrounded by others can be lots of fun.
Ditch the sugar
When it comes to stress, milk chocolate and other high-sugar foods can seem like a quick fix. In fact, they play fast and loose with your blood sugar levels, making you feel tired and anxious. Reach for the snacks with protein and good fats that’ll sustain you for longer, like peanut butter on apple slices and avocado on toast. Watch out for the low-fat trap too. Most commercial low-fat products are loaded with sugar. If you can’t quit the sweet stuff, try using agave nectar, a natural low-GI sweetener, instead. ‘I carry around Tupperware pots of sliced apples and cashew nuts,’ says Sam Guest, who swims three times a week.
Make your swimming routine easy
A trip to the pool shouldn’t feel like another thing to stress over. Lighten your mental load by choosing a pool that’s in the direction you’re already going in – near your office or childcare, for example. And if mornings can be busy, pack your swim bag the night before so you can grab it as you fly out of the house.
Get a good night’s sleep
Swimming will already help you to sleep more deeply, but here are some extra things that’ll make a difference. Try to keep your room dark and cool. A temperature between 15 and 17 degrees is recommended, which might mean leaving a window open (or using a fan) during the summer. Addicted to your phone? Swap your nightly digital fix for some light reading, preferably switching off your devices or leaving them somewhere out of arm’s reach.