Cold Water Therapy & Creativity

We hear so much about the benefits of cold water therapy. How outdoor swimming is great for the immune system and even our mental health. I for one have fallen under it’s spell and I unashamedly need to get my fix again and again. I know without doubt that the moment I enter the water, my mind will become clear, I will feel boosted and invigorated, my soul will feel nourished. But aside from the positive effect it has on my well-being, something unexpected has happened; my creativity has risen to the surface. Lying dormant and neglected for years now, it has been re-awakened and with a clarity I’ve not felt for such a long time, my mind is now wildly inspired.

I greatly enjoy writing poems about wild swimming, and one such poem “Summer Surrender” has recently been included in Swimzine, the magazine with “Swimspiration for the Soul”. The curators of the magazine are both wild swimmers and by producing Swimzine they have brought together so many creative souls in the outdoor swimming community. Artists, writers, poets and more. What I particularly love is seeing the impact that cold water therapy has on people’s creativity. How it inspires, and captures the imagination. Which leads me to ponder about how time in nature can unlock creativity, and in doing so, it invites others to connect, and appreciate the power of nature.

In a past life I was a singer/songwriter. My 20’s was an ambitious decade of my life; my dream was to write music and tour the world. Sadly, although I may have had (some) talent for writing lyrics and songs, I never really enjoyed performing them. (A bit of a deal breaker in the music industry!) Determined to follow my dream I made myself do it. I appeared confident to audiences (so I’m told!), but on the inside I was way out of my comfort zone. After years of “faking it” on stage, I eventually admitted defeat. I shut down. I locked away my music and told myself that a shy, introverted person such as myself could never have a successful music career. My creativity and the person required to deliver it to the world just weren’t one and the same.

On reflection I don’t think I fully realised how important being creative was to me. It is no wonder that my mental health really took a turn for the worse. Making music was the only thing that kept me sane! It was a form of escapism, an alternative reality that was infinitely better than my “real” life. Having experienced abuse and trauma as an adolescent, the post traumatic stress in adult life was only bearable if I was being creative. When I turned my back on my creative side, (forcing myself to get a “proper” job as an accountant) I became completely out of touch with what was important to me. Worse still, I was left with the reality of how much it all hurt.

My passion for cold water therapy, and nature as a healer, began as a need to find inner peace, the need to find a space where I can just “be me”. When I read poems or look at artwork produced by other wild swimmers, I recognise that this may also be the case for them. That behind these creations there is a life story. When I was diagnosed with PTSD, although regular therapy was proving successful, I found that no matter how crap, or low or angry or scared I was feeling; I could access nature whenever I needed it. It didn’t judge, didn’t expect, didn’t want anything of me. Nature allowed me to be my true authentic self. To fall apart, to heal, to recover, and rebuild my life story with a new, more gentle subtext.

What I didn’t expect is that not only does this “therapy” bring me a sense of peace, it has provided me with the space to truly reconnect with myself. Miraculously, here, in this space, where my negative self beliefs are silenced, it is here that I have rediscovered creativity.

The creatives of this world; the artists, musicians, writers, designers, chefs, they are so often inspired by the natural world around them. The ability to capture a moment is not only compelling for the creator but it invites the third party to connect with it too. We, the recipients are drawn to these creations, responding to it in our own way; to appreciate the experience and engage with it, making it our own. For if we are unable to be in nature, we can engage with an image or story to evoke a feeling or memory that transports us there. To connect with nature, through art, music, or even taste, no matter how far removed we are from it, is a truly wonderful gift.

So, that moment in time when my worries are washed away by the waves, or when the beauty of a sunrise on the beach ignites a fire in my belly, I want to capture it, to honor it and commit it to memory. Primarily this is a self indulgent act, born of the simple truth that it makes me feel happy, and I want to remember that feeling, forever. I feel driven to create. Not music now, but to write words, a love letter to the wild to communicate the way it makes me feel.

But on a deeper level, it feels important, significant somehow, as if there is something far greater happening than just the impact it had on “little old me”. That the power of nature is something we must not forget, we must not lose sight of. In this fast paced, modern, consumer driven world, we must not forget. It is important that we don’t take for granted our beautiful planet, or to lose knowledge of our humble beginnings in the wild.

Perhaps then, cold water therapy, nature therapy, is not just something we “benefit” from. Perhaps it isn’t just something that can heal us, boost us and make us feel good. Perhaps it inspires us to dive beneath the surface. To fully immerse. A therapy, that invites us to engage and connect with our natural world, and strengthen our relationship with it. To find ways to celebrate it, to support it, to save and sustain it in whatever way we can; through words, campaigns, music or art. Perhaps this is the power of nature. The power to remind us of why it is important.

“Summer Surrender”

I walked in the hot summer sun
to the cool shade of the woodland.
Baked earth beneath my feet,
Warm air on my bare skin.
Dappled sunlight falling around me like delicate gold leaf.
I stand a while, eyes closed heart open.
There you are.
I hear you.
River running like freedom flowing, your sound seeps into my soul….
I follow, senses keen
Arriving at the waters edge,
An elemental meeting of water, air and earth beneath the fire of the June sun, and the joy in my heart.
As I enter the water, I stumble, current tugging at my waist, I surrender to the flow.
Take me there.
And held by the power of nature, I gaze up at the emerald canopy of the ancient trees as I gently float down river.
Soul quenched.

To purchase a copy of Swimzine click below;

2 Comments

  1. Mark S says:

    Congratulations on the poem and very interesting about the cold water swimming.

    Like

    1. Girl Gone Wild says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Mark. I’m glad you found it interesting

      Liked by 1 person

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