I LOVE to swim…

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By Anita Manley

I just returned from the pool!

Since May, with the exception of vacation time, I’ve been swimming three days a week. I’m a life-long swimmer. I learned how to swim at a very young age, and later I progressed through all the necessary Red Cross levels to become a Lifeguard/Instructor. I have swam on swim teams, swam lengths alone and gone for periods of time when I was not swimming at all, with the exception of an occasional dip in a friend’s pool or a lake. (COVID was especially difficult as, like many others, I could not swim at all during that long, very stressful period).

I know this for sure… I am happiest when I am swimming regularly. I can cope with the stresses of life much more effectively and the regular cardio exercise just brings an authentic smile to my face. Not to mention, my doctor always sees improved results with my bloodwork when I am swimming.

I do prefer swimming on a swim team with a coach and other teammates. The rules and lane etiquette that come with this atmosphere are what I appreciate the most. Everyone knows what they are doing and where they should be swimming. If not, the coach helps with this. The odd time while swimming at the club that I belong to now, the average swimmer just doesn’t know about lane etiquette, and it can send me into a frazzled state. “Can’t they see that I’m swimming in this lane!” I think to myself. “There is room over there, why don’t they just stay in their lane! UGH!” But, without a coach and also without extensive swimming experience, some people just are not aware of the rules. I need to simmer down, be patient, and just move into another lane.

Thanks for letting me vent!

Back to the benefits of swimming and the inspiration for this post. I was reading some information on social media about swimming and came across this TED post on Instagram:

3 reasons swimming is good for your brain:

from neurobiologist Seena Matthew PhD

“It’s no secret that aerobic exercise is important to your overall health– but when it comes to your brain, swimming can make an extra splash. Let’s dive into the benefits!”

  1. Swimming can boost your memory.
    Studies have shown that swimming (even 20 minutes a day!) can improve attention span, short-and long-term memory– and even reduce the cognitive impacts of aging.
  2. Swimming can boost your mood.
    Because swimming is a full-body workout, it increases blood flow which releases feel-good hormones like endorphins.
    It also promotes the release of neurotransmitters– like serotonin– which can help reduce depression and anxiety.
  3. Swimming can boost your ability to learn.
    Aerobic exercise improves cell growth and builds new pathways in your brain. This can help you learn and store new information and recall it with higher accuracy.

So, not only is swimming helping me with overall physical health, it is also helping to improve my mental health. I hope to be able to keep up this routine well into my eighties, or even longer!

What do you do to stay healthy? Drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you!

This is the pool I generally swim laps in 3 days a week! Looks inviting doesn’t it?

Be Respectful.

Featured

By Anita Manley

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy enjoying my summer, taking care of myself and visiting family out west. I’ll write more about this in future posts.

I’ve been thinking of writing this post about “respect” for a while now. I’m hoping it will help some people navigate difficult conversations about periods of illness.

On the Mother’s Day weekend, 2022, an old friend of mine came into town and we went for coffee at my favourite coffee house, Little Victories. I was a bit anxious about our meet-up as he and his wife had seen me during my darkest times. Although I was excited to reconnect, since we’ve known each other for over 35 years and I hadn’t seen him since about 2009, and a visit was way overdue, I was also worried about potential talk of my illness. This is a topic and period of time that I really prefer not to revisit. It is very painful for me and retraumatizing whenever friends/psychiatrists/psychologists take me back to that time in my life.

So, Allan pulled up in front of my building on his very cool motorcycle. He was in town with his wife from Toronto visting his inlaws. We greeted each other with big smiles and hugs, as long lost friends do. Then, we just picked up where we left off, sharing stories of what we’d been up to, reminiscing about our pasts, etc., as we walked over for coffee.

Eventually, as we were laughing and sipping our hot beverages, the dreaded topic of my illness came up.

Allan inquired, “Do you remember anything about what you were like back then?”, referring to our last encounter in 2009.

“Some of it,” I replied with sadness. “But, I really don’t want to remember or discuss it as I find it way too traumatizing.”

Then, just like that, Allan nodded that he understood and changed the topic skillfully to some joyful memories and started sharing photos and we were laughing again.

I felt heard. I felt respected. He did not push the issue, even though I’m certain he had many questions for me about that period of time.

When we left the coffee shop, we went over to another local business to pick up some sandwiches for lunch. I know the owner, so I motioned towards my friend, saying, “This is my friend Allan, we haven’t seen each other in over 12 years.”

Allan interjected, “Actually, it’s been over 20 years!”

He decided that he would leave out the times when he’d seen me when I was not myself, saying instead that the last time he’d been with the “real, Anita” had been a long time ago, indeed.

I cannot tell you how much I appreciated Allan’s approach. It was heartwarming for me to have someone care for me so much that they did not want to retraumatize me, or evoke memories of what I was like when I was in the throes of severe mental illness. I really did not need to be reminded. It was horrendous enough the first time around. Who needs to revisit a time when they’d lost absolutely everything that was important to them?

Thank you so much, Allan, for the kindness and respect you displayed on that Mother’s Day weekend visit.

Until we meet again my friend!

A reunion during happier and healthier times. Allan and I at Little Victories Coffee, May, 2022.