Friday, July 30, 2010

F is for ----

Attention, Attention Please!

I realized something the other day when I was doing my best to paddle around the pool with a gimpy arm. It was a thought that hadn't even crossed my mind yet this month. To be perfectly honest with you, I really don't know why my brain hadn't mentioned something earlier.

A lot of people are afraid of swimming!

I mean, duh!

I've been thinking about and talking about and writing about fears and such lately but because I'm not afraid of swimming, I didn't even consider that others out there reading (as if they actually are) this blog might not be interested in my lovely representation on this month's activity because of whatever personal limitations they might have. How rude of me!

So instead of ignoring fears that I myself might not have, I want to open the floor to discuss fears about fitness every week, whatever those fears may be. Sound good?

From this point forward, Fridays are to be known as Fitness Fear Fridays around here.

To kick it off in style, I think I shall make a list. You know how I love lists. I'm a list girl.

Swim Fears
  • The obvious one is the fear of drowning in general.
  • The fear of swimming in other human gunk. Not eloquently put but let me explain. I've heard of some people refusing to swim in a pool because they know others will pee or spit in the pool. Dead skin falls off in the pool. Hair falls out in the pool. Band aides fall off in the pool.
  • The fear of swimming in lakes. I have this one. I just won't do it, I don't care. It's gross. Lake water is stagnant. Shit falls in there and sinks to the bottom forever with no where to go. The water is dark and icky and you can't see anything around or under you. Things get slimy and putrid in lakes. People dump garbage and whatever else they can think of in lakes. Not interested. No thanks.
  • The fear of swimming in the ocean. People fear the great expansive ocean. They fear the depth of it. They fear the creatures of it. Maybe they just fear the mystery of it too.
  • What about the fear of putting your face in the water? That's one.
  • I've seen people have an unbelievable fear of floating on their back.
  • Fear of exposing too much of yourself in order to participate in the swimming activity? Bashful?
  • What else?

Ways to Overcome Swim Fears
  • Try meditative or relaxation techniques when you feel yourself getting anxious about getting in the water or attempting something in the water that scares you.

    • Deep breaths
    • Visualize yourself enjoying doing whatever it is that scares you
    • Go to your happy place

  • Challenge yourself about the fear. We usually know that our fears are unfounded but we allow them to dictate our actions anyway. If that's ok with you, then fine, stay that way. But if it's not ok, perhaps it's time to sit down and have a debate with yourself.
  • Sign up for swimming lessons. Swim teachers have dealt with every kind of fear in the water that you can think of so if you really want to overcome what's holding you back but don't know what to do or where to turn, check out your local community center pool and inquire about lessons.
  • If swim lessons aren't an option for you, you can try asking a friend or family member to help you face the fear. Ideally, you want them to be a good swimmer and you want to trust that person. It's much easier to attempt swimming when you have a helping hand and watchful eye to help you out if you find yourself in trouble or to just sooth your nerves and give you the much needed encouragement.
  • If you decide to face your fear alone or with a buddy, it's important to go it slowly. Don't think that you're going to just be able to do a cannon ball into the deep end on day one. Depending on how debilitating your fear is, you  may want to start just by dangling your legs in or wading in to your knees until you feel comfortable enough to push yourself a little. Allow yourself freedom to take whatever time you need to get comfortable with the water.
  • Consider getting a paddle board to use for a little while while you get the hang of kicking your legs.
  • What about a snorkel mask for getting use to put your face in the water?
  • Goggles are great so you don't feel blind underwater.
There are all kinds of fears about water and swimming. Some may be founded but most are illogical and we usually know the truth for ourselves if we really answer the question honestly. If you don't want to let your fears hold you back from experiencing the kind of beauty and peace I feel while swimming, I suggest you challenge yourself. The only way to conquer a fear is to face it and walk through it.

Do you have a swim fear? Tell me...

And there is only one day left to vote for my August activity. Did you vote? Vote!