I live so far out of my comfort zone, I often consider changing my name to Scaredy McScaredface.
This morning’s adventure was different as it was purely for FUN.
I won’t have a long enough break between clients later so wanted to go for a bike ride earlier on. And, even though I have no idea about local tide times and have only paddled locally once, I felt inspired to wear a swimsuit under my dress (a DRESS! The first day in I don’t know how long I haven’t worn several layers including thermals) just in case conditions appeared to be good enough and safe enough for a sea swim.
My weekly Essex Sunshine Coast sea swims have been greatly missed as until I learn to drive (more motivation), the beaches aren’t accessible.
I didn’t know anyone who’d swum off the little place I was hoping was safe enough to swim off – I didn’t want to get sucked down into mud flats.
But I figured that even though I’ve not swum in the Atlantic since I was a kid living in America, and I’ve never swum off the Irish coast, I’ve swum in enough seas around the world to trust each next step.
To take it slow and steady and err on the side of safety.
The water was so clear and stunning – rocks and shells glistening, sea weed waving invitingly, mountains and the Quay in the background, cows mooing encouragingly (in my imagination – I’m not familiar enough to feel confident of my translations yet).
It was beyond glorious. As I swam underwater, going out a bit and then back in Just In Case, I lifted my head out of the water and saw the mountains and nearly died of beauty overload.
The lake in Snowdonia, north Wales had that mountainous majesty but I’ve not swum there for more than two decades.
The public pool in Sarajevo (I was teaching trainee complementary therapists to use crystals for self care and it remains the nicest public pool I’ve ever been to) had mountain views, too.
When life feels challenging (and I’m still on a very steep learning curve with this move), it’s so easy to make our world’s smaller.
Sometimes, self-care for anxiety means taking things off our plates.
Making life that bit easier for ourselves.
Not overdoing it by pushing ourselves too hard.
In yoga, when I teach and in my own daily practice, it’s a moment by moment challenge to work to our ‘edge’ – in any given pose, can I surrender more deeply into it? Is it better to come out of it a little?
A lot of us have tendencies to overdo things so for many, the extra gentleness and doing LESS is a challenge.
If we stay too far into our comfort zones, our worlds get smaller and our confidence diminishes. If we push ourselves too far, we end up freaking ourselves out and scuttling way further back than when we gently work with our edge and expand our comfort zones themselves.
For me with the sea, I used to have quite a macho approach to it. I’d dare myself or be dared and just go for it.
Then, off the Cornish coast in February in my 20s, I got so cold I thought I’d freeze and decided from then on, I’d take it one step at a time.
Today, even when almost up to my waist, I was talking soothingly to myself about taking it easy and slow and not having to go any further.
And, of course, this gentle, compassionate approach helps me to do more, in a more sustainable way than all my emotional self-blugeoning ever did.
As it happened, the first few times I thought I’d done enough for my first Wild Atlantic Way sea swim, I couldn’t get out and swam back out again. Enjoying more of this heaven on earth.
Even though I was on my own, I was imagining friends I’m starting to make here who’ve inspired me with their own sea swims off different local beaches.
When you think about your life right now, what might be your sea swim?
Your heaven on earth but a bit (with hindsight – I was a lot scared before doing it) scary?
Are your comfort zone expanding muscles all about doing more of what you need to do?
What about doing more of what you want to do?
It might involve travel?
You might want my support in identifying it and/or working towards it (find out more about how to work with me and get in touch to arrange a free telephone consultation)
Or you might want to be your own self care coach and simply journal around it or reflect in another way.
I also have a lot of self care tools that might help you in my book, 365 Ways to Feel Better: Self-care Ideas for Embodied Wellbeing (White Owl, 2019).