How cold water swimming benefits my mental health

By Linda Stumberga, a 3rd year Fashion Marketing and Branding NTU Student

Hi everyone, I’m Linda, a final year Fashion Marketing and Branding student, and I’m excited to share my experience with overcoming stress and anxiety in university. We all know that university life can be overwhelming, and we’ve all been there – stressed, anxious, and feeling like there’s no way to cope. But as a final year student who’s experienced all the ups and downs, I’ve found what helps me the most: gym and cold-water swimming.

I’ve tried lots of different things to improve my wellbeing whilst studying, from ignoring my stress to journaling and meditation, but nothing seemed to stick until I discovered the gym and cold-water swimming. And amazingly, I have actually felt the change! Investing time and money in myself has truly paid off in my happiness, and I’m here to share some of the mental wellbeing benefits I’ve experienced.

Firstly, exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. As a woman who sometimes experiences hormonal changes and mood swings, exercise helps me balance that out and also improves my sleep quality and duration, which is so important for us students who need to be alert and focused during lectures, seminars, and exams, or in my case – dissertation!

Cold water swimming, on the other hand, can stimulate the immune system and increase the production of white blood cells, which helps fight off infections and illnesses. I haven’t been sick since I’ve started my journey!  It also reduces inflammation in the body, which can help with joint pain and other inflammatory conditions. Additionally, it can improve circulation by constricting blood vessels and forcing blood to circulate more efficiently and stimulate the metabolism – beware to be hungry right after!

But the benefits don’t stop there – cold water swimming can also have a positive impact on mental health by reducing stress and anxiety, boosting mood, and promoting feelings of relaxation and well-being. And as a bonus, it can help reduce muscle soreness and speed up recovery after exercise, which I really appreciate.

Personally, I go to David Lloyd leisure club for my activities, but there are other places in Nottingham to try out cold water swimming, such as Love Open Water Nottingham, Midlands Open Water, and Wholehealth Open Water. Of course, it’s important to start gradually and slowly build up tolerance to cold water, and always swim with a buddy and take necessary safety precautions.

As a student, having these benefits are priceless. In my day-to-day life, I feel more energized, I can concentrate on my assignments so much better, and I don’t zone out as much as I used to. After my newly adapted routine, I always end up smiling because I genuinely feel happier. It even helps me with time management since I’ve found quality time for myself is a must.

So, if you’re a student seeking new ways to improve your mental health, I highly recommend giving the cold-water swimming a try. (I do recommend any exercise before to make yourself warm up, for me, it just so happens to be gym)And who knows, you might just end up trying out an ice bath afterwards like I plan to!

For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

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