It’s summertime, which means it’s beach season and pool season. People all over are pulling out their bathing suits, slathering on sunscreen, and hopping in the water. Of course, not everyone loves the water equally. Some people jump right in the deep end of the swimming pool and have the time of their lives; others prefer to just dip their toes in or only wade into the ocean until the water comes up to their chest. Still others seem to be irrationally afraid of the water.
If you think you are a person who has an unhealthy fear of getting water — perhaps even to the level of true aquaphobia — then it’s important to take a look at what’s going on in your head. Even if you just have mild trepidation about getting in the pool, read on. We want you to be able to enjoy all that water activities have to offer.
A healthy relationship with the water
We humans may call the land our home, but the water has a great deal to offer us. Enjoying the water in a pool or the ocean on a regular basis can be good for you. A bit of swimming is great exercise, which is good news for swimmers, because the experts recommend that we each get at least a half-hour of exercise every day. When you’re spending time outdoors as part of your water adventures, you’ll enjoy even more health benefits. Researchers have found that being outside can be healthy in and of itself, even when we set aside the obvious benefits of the exercising we might do while we’re out there!
The draw of the water is what causes so many tourists to flock to the places to see on Florida’s Gulf Coast each season. Vacationers swim in the surf and relax on the beaches, and resorts built along the water have pools, which are yet another swimming option for the water-loving tourists. More adventurous water attractions include boating and water sports like surfing. Even beginners can have a lot of fun surfing, say the teachers at a surfing school that helps tourists and locals alike surf Hawaii’s gorgeous waves.
Back at home, homeowners may choose to invest in a pool or a spa. Experts who install residential hot tubs and spas tell us that spas can have health benefits, too. The warm water can be good for aches and pains, provided that you follow basic safety rules when you take a dip and don’t stay in the spa for longer than is safe.
Healthy fear vs unhealthy fear
Now, none of this is to say that water activities are always safe. There’s a reason that pool owners must secure their pool and prevent wayward kids and other intruders from diving in unattended, says one personal injury lawyer. Beachgoers can drown, and swimmers should always be careful to stay within their abilities as they play and swim in the ocean or in the pool.
On the other hand, sometimes people develop a fear of the water that isn’t rational, and that’s not a good thing. What if you feel afraid of swimming and of water in general, but you don’t seem to have concrete reasons for that? You might be aware that your fears are holding you back from fun and exercise, and you are determined to change that, but still you find yourself unsure of what to do next–or perhaps just unable to do it.
One way to tackle fear of the water is by taking swimming lessons and working on skills in the safe, shallow ends of pools watched by lifeguards. But if there’s something bigger going on, you may want to seek professional help in dealing with your anxieties and fears about the water, because the situation may not have that much to do with the water at all; it may be a mental health issue.
It’s a sad truth that many of us are unwilling to speak about mental health issues such as phobias. We explain them away or treat them on our own by, for instance, attempting to expose ourselves to the sources of our fears. Minor fears may be able to be swept away by willpower and DIY methods like these, but true phobias are more serious. You could use an expert in your corner.
A therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist could help you better understand the things that are holding you back from diving into the pool or the ocean, and they could help you cope with this fear in a way that allows you to unlock the many benefits of swimming and enjoying the pool, lake, or ocean. Remember, the person that you speak to will keep what you say private.
Of course, many people find that some swimming lessons are all they need to start building from the shallow ends of pools up to lake swimming, ocean dips, and even watersports. However, if the idea of making good on your pledge to spend more time in the water fills you with dread, you should consider the possibility that you’re not being honest with yourself about the extent of your fear of water. Don’t allow an unwillingness to talk about mental health keep you from living your best and most fulfilling possible life! If you do have a true phobia, you could benefit a great deal from speaking to a mental health expert. Besides, even if you don’t have a serious condition, you could gain a great deal by just being proactive about your mental health. More of us should see therapists, experts agree, even if we don’t feel that we must.
You have a whole life ahead of you, so think about how you want to proceed from here and don’t be afraid to reach out for a little bit of help from the people who have trained for their entire lives to provide just that. We hope that you find a way to get yourself into the water and begin to enjoy the many emotional and physical benefits of swimming in lakes and relaxing in hot tubs. We wish you all the best–good luck!