As a young child, I always wanted to be near the water and I always anticipated the summers when I could spend time with my grandparents and access the crystal blue waters of the Aegean Sea. I learned to swim at a young age, but anyone at any age can learn to swim and gain body confidence through this natural and simple exercise. Over the years I improved my technique and even if you already swim, there is always room for growth. One thing I love about swimming is that it does not impact the body negatively in the way many other cardiovascular exercises do. This means that your joints will not become strained or stressed. Many people are looking for an exercise that is low cost and effective with many benefits for the body and the mind and swimming checks all of those boxes.
Swimming and Lowering Anxiety
Swimming is effective for lowering stress, more than any other type of exercise. When the body is in contact with the water it has an instantly relaxing effect on the body and the mind together. Concentrating on swimming strokes and the rhythm of the movements can be like meditation for the mind. Swimming can improve memory and learning and even enhance the body’s ability to process stress more efficiently. I have always turned to swimming for a stress reliever and it has never let me down.
When the body is immersed in water, blood flow to the brain is boosted, increasing nutrients, oxygen and glucose which provides a positive effect on the brain. Children who swim early have been shown to reach developmental milestones sooner than their non-swimming counterparts.
Public pools offer an opportunity for people to swim together, socializing while exercising. Some pools offer aquatics-based exercise classes and swimming events which offer a reason for people who enjoy swimming to get together.
The colour blue is naturally soothing and has a positive effect on the mental state. Pale tones of blue can help people to concentrate and calm down the brain. In our natural world blue is all around us with water and the sky offering different shades of blue. Most people are drawn to water, and in particular, the ocean and in my case, I was always personally drawn to the beautiful blue Aegean Sea.
Swimming regularly, even if it is for thirty minutes, can lower anxiety and depression as well as improving sleep patterns. The act of swimming can release natural endorphins which help people to feel good and have an increased sense of well-being and happiness. Water-based activities relieve tension and help people to feel happier.
How Swimming Boosts Body Confidence
Swimming requires coordination and skill and the different types of strokes require practice to be mastered. As a person learns each stroke and practices it, they start to find it easier to do. When the person swims regularly, making it a part of their fitness routine, the body starts to transform, and they see improvements and changes which will spur them on to spend more time practicing and mastering their skills.
I have always found negative self-talk to be a huge progress killer. Remember, when you are ready to swim and practice your skills, the last thing you need is those negative thoughts running through your head. Don’t listen to the thoughts that say you are not good enough, that you don’t look good in that swimsuit or that anyone around you is watching you and saying negative things.
The next time you have a negative thought make a conscious decision to push it out of your mind and replace it with a positive thought. Some good examples of positive thoughts are:
- I am doing great; my swimming strokes are improving, and I have made lots of progress since I first started swimming.
- I feel good about my body, it is a powerful machine that is moving me through the water, and it is getting stronger every day.
- I will continue to show up and try until I get where I want to be.
- I can do this, I can do anything.
- Every day and in every way, I am getting better and better.
- Each day is one day closer to my goals and I’m here knocking it out of the park.
No one is going to sing your praises except you. The sooner you stop with the negative self-talk, the better. One way to think more positively is to keep a chart of your successes. If the first success is just showing up and doing the work, that is something that you should track. Keep track of your lap times and anything else that you think of as areas that can be improved. When you layout these records in a chart you will start to notice progress over the many months as you put in the work.
Body confidence will follow as soon as you start to notice the changes to your physique from week to week. At first, it may not be too noticeable, but in a few short months, you will notice unmistakable changes. Make a promise to yourself to continue swimming regularly for both the physical and mental health changes that you are going to experience. We are all far too hard on ourselves when it comes to body image and swimming is something that can change that for the better in record time. The more that you swim the more your muscles will develop, and body fat will begin to melt away. With regular exercise and healthy and sensible eating habits, you can transform your body in a few short months
By setting yourself up with mini wins you will find the courage and the sense of accomplishment to continue with swimming. In fact, by that point, you will probably be hooked on the rush of endorphins that you feel when you rush through the water. The ability to exercise such as swimming to relieve your stress and help you to gain incredible confidence is something that cannot be replaced with anything else.
If you are trying to decide where to start, the main point is to get started as soon as possible. If you have never been swimming a good starting point may be lessons. If you are an experienced swimmer, lessons can improve upon the foundational skills that you already have instilled in you. Swimming has always played a big part in my life, since the age of six. I continue to enjoy swimming, being around the water and now helping others to learn how to swim through my passion for swimming and I hope this article has benefited your swimming journey too!
– Bloom from the Darkness
Nikos Vasilellis is the Founder of Nereids Aquatic Coaching and has a passion and love for aquatic activities which is combined with his care for helping others. Nereids Aquatic Coaching company helps children and adults to overcome their fear of water by focusing on their individual strengths and helping them enjoy safely the aquatic environment.