The Joy of Dipping

By Jo

Invigorating, and utterly addictive

In my quest for a quiet mind and some bonding time with my pal, during a socially distanced cold November walk in Lockdown 2020, I suggested (partly seriously and partly in jest), that a sea dip might be a fun thing to try! 

An Unforgettable Experience

Literally taking the plunge into completely unknown territory, we set off to King Edwards Bay the following morning to dip our toes, then our bodies, into the icy depths! Oh my, we could barely breathe as the sea burnt into our skin, like daggers or brain freeze but through the entire body! We jumped around, very vocally and without an ounce of grace, but laughing too and feeling the bond of friendship as we ventured into a strange new world together. 

Even though that first experience was excruciating, it was strangely invigorating and exciting too. We buzzed with adrenaline and a sense that something new was unfolding before us. And so began our dipping adventure, something in us felt compelled to carry on trying, sometimes we wouldn’t swim at all (remember this was November and bitterly cold!), but we were gentle with ourselves and each other. Some days we needed to coax one another, other days we walked over ice and snow, and we shared the trepidation together as we stripped off our layers and walked to the seashore. We giggled a lot, screamed a lot and yet each time, decided to return for another, and another, and another.

A New Way of Life

The months rolled by through lockdowns and strange new working patterns and lifestyle changes, and leaping forward 18 months, and we are now regular dippers at Cullercoats Bay and occasional visitors to King Edwards Bay. We have all the gear; socks and gloves are an absolute necessity. The dry robe provides a loving hug and our flask of something hot always tastes delicious after a dip. 

Coldwater swimming brings you the most instant sense of presence; how can you possibly focus on anything else other than the moment when your body is enlivened by every imaginable sensation! 

The Miraculous Benefits

I ponder on what has been the main motivator to keep walking into the sea. As a yoga teacher, I understand presence, I teach it daily, I watch my breath, and I practise pranayama (breathing techniques). The cold-water experience brings the most powerful sense of presence; as you feel the sea lap your skin, as you feel the inner furnace begin to ignite within you, and as you soak up the incredible beauty all around. Being immersed in nature feels like an experience of pure joy. 

I marvel at the cleverness of the human body, it has a protective energy, which emerges as it switches on its defences against the cold. Whatever your mood as you enter the water, it always feels better; that’s the activation of endorphins, the ‘feel good’ chemicals. The result is a lifted mood, a sense of natural high. We’ve noticed how much more quickly we can get into the sea and how much easier it is to tolerate the cold a few months in. Our bodies are clever; with repeated exposure, it adapts more quickly, and we get warmer and stay warmer for longer. Circulation improves, skin feels and looks healthier, it gives a psychological confidence boost, improves energy levels and va va vroom! Interestingly, even when the body feels alive and vital, the impact on the mind is a calming, more relaxed one, it’s a mood lifter, and it feels like a gentle rebalance. It eases the mind out of the noise and demand of the day and into a gentle hum, and I for one am very drawn to a gentle, soothing hum.

So if cold water dipping is on your ‘to do’ list, or your bucket list, or even if you have pondered the idea and tried a cold shower then hated it…..take a deep breath, try it, and allow yourself to be touched and enveloped in nature, enjoy finding your breath, your inner power and especially your sense of peace and wellbeing.

© Copyright Jasmine Wellbeing Tynemouth