Public swimming, mental health and body image

I’m honoured to have given an expert comment in this article by Imogen Brighty-Potts for GLAMOUR exploring her experience of public swimming and body appreciation.

What are the positive implications of swimming for mental health?

Swimming can be great for mental health since exercise is associated with the release of endorphins and feel good hormones, which have a positive effect on mood and can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. The time out from work and away from screens can allow you to clear your head, and leave you feeling refreshed. Swimming can help you feel more embodied and accepting of your body, rather than detached from it; when you are swimming, you’re working with your body and accomplishing something together, and the sensations of the water on your body can also provide a positive experience of being in your body.  

How can people embrace their bodies in situations they may not be comfortable in e.g public changing rooms?

It’s common to feel uncomfortable about your body in some situations such as in public changing rooms. These feelings are typically created by negative thoughts about your body and how others will view it. It’s important to remember that our mind filters incoming information to confirm our beliefs. For example, if you’re worried that everyone is staring at you, then you’re likely to spot the one person who is looking in your direction. Instead, challenge yourself to look at the evidence for and against your belief; you’ll likely see that almost everyone is too busy getting changed to be looking at you. If you take a look around you will also see that everyone’s body is unique and special, acknowledging this can help you to embrace your body and it’s uniqueness. 

Read Imogen’s experience in the article –

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Dr Rachel Evans

Eating Disorder Recovery Therapist