Sunday, May 28, 2017

Swimming through Depression

by Mat Hudson

It’s not that my enthusiasm instantly returned, but as I swam for an hour, blood started pumping, oxygen starting flowing, neural signals started firing in a focused, constructive way. It was no ‘happy pill’- it was more like I got a little jump-start on my nearly dead battery, or a slow-drip IV with just enough electrolites injected into my anemic blood. I came out of the water with a mind recovered enough to think clearly about what to do next.

With that boost I had gained a window of time with a choice to make: take it and get busy refreshing my health and rebuilding my focus, or waste it by wrapping myself back up in the ‘heavy, warm blanket’ of depression hoping something will change without putting out any of my own effort. I was given a chance to build momentum in either direction at that moment. I received the energy from that swim as a gift, and used it to take a few steps foward, out of my gloom. This is what I mean by taking responsibility.

One popular author might advise you to Eat, Love, Pray. My advice is to Sleep, Pray, Swim.

You are not alone. Go swim. It will do you good.


I know well the benefits of exercise in helping adjust brain chemistry – even better than anti-depressant medication can. I have been tremendously encouraged by this book: Spark – The Revolutionary Science of Exercise And The Brain, by John J. Ratey MD.

It addresses not just depression, but how exercise enhances learning, combats stress, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, womens’ hormonal challenges, addictions, and aging.

My wife and I have found encouragement even for parenting our kids!

Basically, getting the heart and brain up and working together in some good exercise challenge (like intelligent TI SWIMMING, of course) is one powerful thing we control that can seriously combat the neurological (and hence, mental and emotional) challenges you and I face.

So, last week I headed to the sea and plunged in despite the feelings of burden and desperation and I let those cool waves carry a good portion away from me. My problems were not gone when I got out, but I had a sufficient boost of strength to get back in the game and face them. And sure enough, I eventually pulled out and see sunny skies again.

Go swim, my friend.