One from the TRC community. Olivia, from the Chilly Dippers, shares a taste of what finishing at Edinburgh University was like during Coronavirus. Lucky for Olivia she has a well-tested stress reduction technique.
I am a 22-year-old (recent) graduate of The University of Edinburgh. I’ve had the most fantastic 4 years up in Edinburgh, despite the slightly premature end to this term with COVID-19’s spoiling forces!
Of course, with this global Coronavirus pandemic, I must gain some greater perspective and realise there have been people more badly affected by this such as; the victims, front line workers, patients and families, whose experiences have, unfortunately, been far more gravely than mine.
However, in a more relative sense – coming to the end of my degree, at a time where I probably required the most stability, this has also been a pretty anxious period for students too.
The damned class of 2020! With the uncertainty of how to sit exams, access to books and also a curated sense of working routine – finishing University during this time certainly required a great deal of readjustments.
I must admit I had many existential crises whilst sitting my final exams at a time where so many people had fallen ill, the world had sat still in lockdown and, of course, the engines to a great movement of racial equality had come into action. It seemed like greater things were going on outside of the walls of my bedroom, yet all that mattered in terms of my ‘5-year plan’, were the exams within my University Portal.
I struggled to think my final exams (and what my 4 years at University had been leading up to) really had an impact on the outside world. Would really mean anything at all, when there was so much else to be focusing on. In fact, I still believe the noise from the outside world during this time is more important than any University work on old scholars and theories.
With all of this going on, I found it very hard to sit still and just think. I felt guilty for not reading every book I could on racial injustices. I felt bad living the life I had previous where I could be a carrier for Coronavirus.
It was time for a little bit of cold-water therapy.
For the last 3 years I have found the power of the cold-water to be a great means to deal with my stresses and relative anxieties. Immersing myself in a cold shower, cold lake or even an ice bath greatly helps me in both my physical and mental health.
View this post on Instagram
What we’d do to go for a giant swim like this one back in January ‼️ Did you know you can get the same good feeling from your shower at home. Simply turn it on and whack it to freezing and see how long you can last. Really try and push yourself to control your breath and you’ll be surprised! We challenge you ⚠️
Realising that something as natural as cold water swimming could help combat my stress levels, I decided to share this with my friends and other students to create: Chilly Dippers.
I started Chilly Dippers in my penultimate year at University as a social initiative to challenge young people to get outside, utilise nature and realise the power of cold-water swimming for themselves.
Since its creation, I have been lucky to lead many swims in both Edinburgh’s Portobello Beach, The Serpentine Lido (London) and The Hampstead Ponds (London).
I have been able to share my passion for cold water swimming on my Instagram (@chilly.dippers), where I promote both the mental and physical health benefits to an active audience of young students – who are in dire need of a break from their phones, and a trip into nature!
The icy shock forces your blood cells to surface, helping to warm extremities and adapt us to the cold.
It boosts your immune system by increasing your white blood cell count as your body is forced to react to changing conditions.
Cold water swimming has been praised for relieving relative stresses and anxieties through the icy shock providing a release of Endorphins (the happiness hormone) and an increase in Adrenaline.
It’s a place where your body hits the ‘Fight or Flight’ mode, putting in perspective all other problems to help you focus on the NOW. Chilly Dipping has undoubtedly served as a refuge for me in such a period of uncertainty and I am positive it will continue to do the same for me as I approach this next chapter.