Watch: Emma gives wellbeing tips as she takes daily dip in icy river
- Credit: Emma Williams
Come rain, shine or even snow, the recent weather has not stopped a town’s wellbeing coach who says cold water swimming can help to combat depression and anxiety.
Emma Williams, 41, the founder of Reflect Health and Wellbeing based in Thetford, has been filming herself swimming in the town’s river as she gives tips to improve mental health.
Ms Williams, who can be spotted in the town’s river most days, said she was seeing more people in need of support as the pandemic continued.
She has some basic advice to help you get through these difficult times.
Ms Williams said: “A lot of the time anxiety and depression come about when you’re in your own head.
“So, when it's cold like this, I challenge anyone who is struggling with their thoughts to come and get in the river. You'll have a period of time when it settles down and you will have peace.
"Part of it is the survival part of the brain being distracted. It gives you a hit of dopamine and increases the happy hormone within your body.
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“It’s a way of helping you feel better.
“But the three main things to help your mental health is sleeping, exercise and food.
“If you have been suffering with an increase in anxiety, overwhelm and sadness, you are not alone.
“Being together and connected to our friends, our families, our work and our community is essential for our level of happiness. The more disconnected and uncertain we become the greater we suffer.
“We cannot change the current situation, but we can challenge and change our habits if we feel they are not helping us. Having a plan and a routine is essential for us to be happy. It allows our brain to work on autopilot and it likes that.
“However, have you been slipping into a poor sleep routine, eating habits, self-care and negative thinking? Then you are in danger of spiralling into low mood, anxiety and depression.”
Ms Williams gives tips to improve your mental health:
“This is essential for good mental and emotional health. I recommend you consider your sleep, exercise and food habits and focus on making the smallest change which will have the greatest impact.
“Then make a decision on applying the change, monitor and review your progress, congratulating yourself daily when you achieve what you set out to achieve.”
“All too often we do not take the time to properly re-charge our batteries.
“When was the last time you did something just for you because it made you feel good?
“No external driving force, just purely because you love it, it relaxes you or it brings you joy. Book some time into your diary just for you."
“Can you hear yourself having negative thoughts? Negative thinking can be a primary source to our unhappiness.
“Thought’s which start with, ‘I feel’, ‘I am’, ‘I can’t’, ‘I don’t’ imprint as facts to the mind, something that is true and unquestionable.
“Start to hear your thoughts and change them to ‘I am having the thought that I can’t’, this allows it now to become a conversation, not a fact, not necessarily a truth.
“Then ask yourself how helpful or kind is that thought? Is it a thought you want to keep as it inspires and motivates you, or is it a thought that needs to be replaced or reframed?"
“When we start to have little hope for the future this can alter your outlook.
“I recommend you play make believe with your mind and allow yourself to dream.
“To have the greatest impact with this, I want you to remember a past holiday you had, one which was full of love and fun and laughter.
“Once you have remembered that old memory, I want you to go ahead in time to a future you. It could be a holiday or a day with the family, then play out all the wonderful things you will be doing.”
Reconnect in person
“The most important one of all.
“We as humans, as animals, thrived and became the dominant species we are because we learnt how to work together, and working together meant being together as a united force.
“Alone we would not have survived. We evolved to have real physical responses when we are alone and lost from the group.
“Our stress hormone cortisol goes up, anxiety increases and deep restful sleep becomes elusive.
“Stick within the guidelines and when it permits ensure you meet up in person with another human being.
“At present that means once a day to get your daily exercise, even if that is only for a 20-minute walk, I recommend you build it in and make it happen. Plus nature enhances our mental and emotional health, double win.”
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.reflecthealth.co.uk