I have written recently about me tagging 2018 as the year of self-care. One of the positive habits I want to adopt is enjoyable physical activity. Few weeks ago, I started swimming at the local pool.
The idea of going to a swimming hall made me nervous. I normally feel goofy and not in shape. In a swimsuit, I feel vulnerable. What if I cannot even swim to the other side? Without my glasses, I am virtually blind. What if I go to the wrong lane? What if I am too slow? What if I meet someone I know, I don’t see them and do not wave at them? Washing my long hair every time will be annoying. I don’t want to iron them every time. If I don’t iron them, I’ll look bad. Going to the pool takes two hours overall. It’s too much. My family needs me. My husband says he supports me, but he will get fed up in time.
To calm myself down, I made sure to choose a swimming pool I knew very well. I knew which lane to go, how the changing room locks worked, where the hair drier was, everything. I also committed to start going every day. I did so, to avoid going two times and then procrastinating the third time forever. I bought 10 entrance tickets, to motivated myself further not to give up.
All these details helped me to find the motivation and to kick off the plan. On the first day, I saw two lanes: fast and slow swimmers. Being the competitive silly goose I am, of course I chose the fast lane. After swimming back and forth a couple of times, I was already feeling exhausted. I was worrying I was not fast enough and I was slowing people down. I started counting laps. After some time like this I thought “What the hell am I doing?”. That was not the goal of the swimming experience. I wasn’t there to get in shape nor to compete against others or myself, I was there to cut myself some pleasant me-time. I wasn’t enjoying it at all!
So I switched to the slow lane and there things started to roll for the better. I committed not to count laps. On the second day, I went directly to the slow lane. I don’t need the fast one. The fast lane is the rest of my life: the hectic workplace, family duties, active social life. While swimming, I tried to focus on the pleasant physical sensations, like the water feeling like velvet on my skin or the blue world underwater. When my arms felt tired, I turned belly up and swam lightly moving my legs and listening to sounds underwater. On the third day, I allowed myself to be playful: I started to dive down to touch the bottom of the pool or turn while swimming to look up at the light and water, keeping just below the surface.
When I swim there is no clock. There is no personal record to break. There is just me and the water.
When I felt there was no trace of anxiety anymore and the activity was deemed as pleasant in my mind, I loosened my schedule and fixed two regular days a week. I promised myself that if stress level goes too up, I can go more often.
I wrote this post to show all the small obstacles I had to overcome to truly allow myself to enjoy something. Maybe someone will see themselves in the thoughts which were running through my head. Now, from here, I can see many of them were silly. While others… they did not really matter. The benefit I get from this activity is huge. And I know I deserve self-care.