Make positive change for life with Hypnotherapy and NLP plus CBT Therapy Bristol and North Somerset

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Ladies Mindful Swimming Therapy

If you agree with any of the following find out more about the benefits of Ladies Mindful Swimming Therapy below...

  • I recognise the benefits of outdoor swimming but just haven't had the courage to do it
  • I want to learn Mindfulness and other psychological techniques to increase happiness and wellbeing
  • I intend to go outdoor swimming more often but need more motivation
  • I feel too self conscious to go outdoor swimming and worry what people will think
  • I worry about people looking at me and feel uncomfortable swimming with a group of people I don’t know
  • I have read about the benefits of outdoor swimming for stress, anxiety and depression and want to try outdoor swimming to help with this
  • I have an injury or muscle pain and want to try cold water healing
  • I want to lose weight and get fit whilst getting all the other benefits of outdoor swimming
  • I suffer from open water swimming anxiety and want to overcome this before an outdoor swimming event or triathlon
Lift depression, manage anxiety and increase confidence with Wild Swimming Therapy
Come for a Wild Swim in Marine Lake Clevedon

What is Ladies Mindful Swimming Therapy?

This is the use of outdoor swimming (also known as 'open' or 'cold water swimming'), in combination with psychological techniques. It's aim is to develop mindfulness whilst reaping the benefits of outdoor swimming. It can also be tailored to help you reach a goal. For example you may want to increase confidence and self esteem, lose weight, deal with stress, anxiety, depression and postnatal depression or mentally prepare for open water swimming competitions and triathlons.

All 'Ladies Mindful Swimming Therapy' will be tailored to your needs, preferences and a therapeutic outcome. Together we can work out the best approach for you, e.g. a one to one Mindful Swimming session, Solution Focused Coaching, CBT Therapy, Hypnotherapy and NLP or a combination. It may be that you have someone you can meet for an outdoor swim or you may benefit from my one to one support.

Please note I am not a swim coach but have developed a love of outdoor swimming and want to inspire others so that they can experience it's many benefits. All sessions will be on a one to one basis for a more mindful and focused experience.

How does it work?

There are many different ways I can work with you depending on what you want to achieve. The following is a rough outline of Mindful Swimming Therapy, which will be adapted for each individual.

1. Where relevant, you will be asked to complete some questionnaires from the FREE Harmony4Life Self Assessment Package; this aims to provide valuable insights into where you are before you start any programme and identify the root cause of issues. There are over 10 questionnaires, including confidence, self esteem, anxiety and depression.

2. In most cases a talking therapy session is recommended early on. During this if you suffer from anxiety related to outdoor swimming events I will help you to overcome this using psychological techniques. If you are new to outdoor swimming I will work with you to mentally prepare for your first dip.

3. Alongside mentally preparing for outdoor swimming we will work on any other issues you choose to address, e.g. developing confidence and self esteem, weight loss, dealing with stress, anxiety, depression and postnatal depression.

4. If it suits you, we will meet for a one to one Mindful Swim session at Marine Lake in Clevedon. I will guide you through some mindfulness and other techniques before you swim. It will be completely up to you how much you swim, if at all; you could just start by submerging yourself in the water for a few minutes. Whether it’s your first outdoor swim/ dip, or one of many- you will experience a great sense of personal accomplishment and all the other benefits- read more about these below.

If you opt for just a Mindful Swimming session I’ll give you information before we meet on what to take with you and things to be aware of. All sessions will be on a one to one basis which are perfect if you feel self conscious or just aren’t comfortable in groups- however, this is something we can address as well.

Whether you choose just a Mindful Swimming session, or all of the above, you can use the FREE Harmony4Life Self Assessment Package as a follow up. This can be useful after a few weeks of swimming to monitor changes to your mood, wellbeing or any other area you've chosen to focus on.

Make sure you have no regrets!

Dervla Murphy, a veteran travel writer, said that she never regretted going for a swim but often regretted not doing so. I completely relate to this and the following may help you understand why!

Experience the benefits of wild swimming in Clevedon's Marine Lake

My open water swimming story

I’ve been outdoor swimming on and off since I was first able to swim as a child, as no doubt many people have. I only started swimming outdoors regularly in October 2016. Initially I made a commitment to outdoor swimming at least once a week to try to build up to the cold winter temperatures.

When I first started outdoor swimming regularly in 2016, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be able to go to the Marine Lake in Clevedon and swim whenever I wanted. I’d thought about it for a good while but wasn’t sure about how to get started and what to take etc. Then I met someone who was going outdoor swimming twice a week and joined the Clevedon Lake and Sea Swimmers Facebook group. I also watched BBC One’s The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs (which used outdoor swimming to lift depression) and read about all the other benefits of cold water swimming. I became so inspired I just had to do it.

Having completed my first winter of outdoor swimming I can honestly say I have loved every minute of it! Overall, it’s been such a great challenge; it’s really made me realise that we are all capable of much more than we think.

I’ve definitely been healthier with just one mild cold over the winter, whilst the rest of my family have had the usual multiple colds, which I was equally vulnerable to last year. I have felt more energised, resilient and stress free during the more challenging days of dealing with kids and other stressors during the dark winter days.

It has been highly addictive, especially during the winter, to the point that I even swam when it was below freezing out and 3 degrees in the water. The social side and moral support is definitely paramount on such days though! Luckily you get to meet like minded people, which has had a massively positive effect.

The surge of adrenalin and endorphin boost during and after swimming is like no other. My instinctive drive to experience this means I feel no fear of stepping into the water.

It doesn’t matter what the temperature is. It’s just something I’m going to do and whilst doing it I know I’ll be in such a mindful state because there’s no room for anything else in my head. It’s so peaceful. It’s like active meditation, especially due to the rhythm of swimming.

It’s just me and the water and unwanted thoughts are gone the instant I enter it. It puts things completely in perspective and puts a smile on my face and of course simply smiling has it’s own benefits. Afterwards I experience such a euphoric, hugely feel good, state. I feel alert and energised for the rest of the day.

I have had days when I’ve felt I had a cold coming on and have gone for a swim and the symptoms just disappeared. I have had aches and pains that go away after swimming too.

I used to go cycling, walking, swim at the local pool and do yoga at home. I thought I was someone who didn’t like the cold but that doesn't matter when I’m outdoor swimming- it just feels so much better than any other exercise!

Combine Wild Swimming with CBT Therapy, NLP and Hypnotherapy to overcome depression and anxiety

If swimming as a form of exercise is good...

Just think of all the benefits of swimming and then add the benefits of open water swimming (to follow)... it's no wonder it feels so good. According to the Amateur Swimming Association there are 8 great reasons you should try swimming:

  • Full body workout
  • Great for general wellbeing
  • De-stresses and relaxes
  • Burns calories
  • Lowers risk of diseases
  • Supports the body
  • Increases energy levels
  • Exercise without the sweat
Wild Swimming spot by Clevedon Pier

The benefits of outdoor swimming

Research plus plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests that outdoor swimming can have many benefits. The following are just some:

1. Endorphins, adrenalin and natural pain relief

Outdoor swimming has certainly given me a natural high and become truly addictive. It sets me up for the day by giving an overall sense of wellbeing- one of calm and euphoria. This can be explained by the endorphins that are generated to help deal with the sting caused by the cold water. Endorphins are the bodies natural pain killers.

‘People say they feel great after a sea or river swim, which may be because the chilly water activates cold sensors all over our bodies — cells positioned just 0.18  millimetres under our skin — which in turn increase heart rate and give us that “alive” feeling,’ explains Michael Tipton, Professor of Human and Applied Physiology at Portsmouth University.

‘The cold sensors also trigger a sudden burst of adrenaline that diverts our attention away from our aches and pains, creating the feel-good factor. It’s effectively a natural painkiller.’ (1)

One woman who swims five or six times a week even claims it helps her with a condition she has called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (an inherited tissue disorder). “I am able to cope without any pain relief on the days I swim. Before winter swimming I was on morphine every day. It has literally changed my life,” she says (2).

2. Reduced depression and anxiety

The parasympathetic system is responsible for rest and repair and can be activated by the cold. This can stimulate the release of dopamine and serotonin- the neurotransmitters that help make you happy 😊 Low levels of these are linked to depression. It’s no wonder open water swimming puts a smile on my face what with this and the cocktail of endorphins and adrenalin.

Dr Mark Harper says “Currently, we are developing a trial which will use sea swimming as a treatment for depression. While the exact mechanism is unclear, there is growing evidence that inflammation is strongly linked with this condition” (3). There is a theory that repeated exposure to cold water improves your response to the stress that often accompanies depression.

Through BBC One’s The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs the theory was tested. One patient (Sarah) had been taking antidepressants for eight years but within four months she was off them and managing her symptoms with swims in a local lake.

Dr Chris Van Tulleken wrote “we decided to offer an activity that would combine lots of the things that we know can help depression – exercise, mindfulness, and socialising: swimming. But in cold water in a lake. It sounds Victorian but there’s science behind this.

We took Sarah to see Professor Mike Tipton (a world expert on what happens when the body is put to extremes), his team at the University of Portsmouth and Dr Mark Harper (an anaesthetist with an interest in the effects of cold water on depression). After a day of acclimatising Sarah - and I - got totally addicted." (4)

There are many anecdotal accounts too. Andrew Fusek Peters has written a book about how taking dips in cold Shropshire waters has helped him battle serious depression. “Swimming is about feeling alive – whatever fear is in my head, as soon as I am in the water, it has gone, slam-splash-dunked. So although swimming alone didn’t save me from depression, it broke the pattern,” he says.

Also for Gabs Dickinson, who runs a North Wales based outdoor swimming company, swimming in cold water helped with her mental health problems. “I’ve been treated with depression and anxiety most of my life and when I swim I am a better person to be around. If I’m having a bad day my friends will tell me to go get in a lake!” (5)

3. Reduced stress

In an article on the benefits of cold water swimming Alesia Hsiao wrote “Cold water swimming places stress on the body physically and mentally. Many studies have told us about the link between cold water and stress reduction. Cold water swimmers are naturally calmer and more relaxed. They are stronger in the face of adversity” (6).

In addition Dr Mark Harper talks of how repeated immersion helps 'train’ our fight-or-flight response - the icy temperatures being several degrees below the tropical climes of our evolutionary origin - meaning that we might become better at coping with stress (5).

“Getting into cold water evokes a form of stress response which is significant even at 20˚C. This response is recognisable (though, at colder temperatures, magnified) as our response to any stressful situation — increased heart rate and blood pressure, hyperventilation and the release of stress hormones. However, repeated immersions — as few as four — diminish this response.

While we need to be able to react in this way to many situations, we want to avoid overreacting to the relatively minor threats (trains not running on time, Wi-Fi going down) modern society constantly throws at us. The process of cold water adaptation leads to a reduced, though not abolished, response to stress.

Consequently, heart rate and blood pressure don’t go up as much and we can still control our breathing when we get in the water. Cold water swimming could therefore bring benefits to all of us by preventing our overreaction.

It makes sense that the body only has one general way of reacting to stress — it’s hardly likely to evolve one for being chased by lions across the savannah and another when we choose the slowest queue in the supermarket. What we really need, therefore, is evidence of cross-adaptation — evidence that adapting to the cold brings benefits in other areas.” (3)

4. Boosts immune system

Lynne Wallis wrote in the Mail Online that "sea water may also lessen the symptoms of hay fever such as a runny and itchy nose — the water acts like a ‘saline douche’, washing the nasal passages clear of the irritating pollens. People who live by and swim in the sea tend to have healthier respiratory systems, says Maureen Jenkins, director of clinical services with the charity Allergy UK."

She also wrote about a Czech study which "found that people who immersed themselves in cold water three times a week experienced a significant increase in their white blood cell count — immune cells important for fighting off infection. The researchers put this down to cold water acting like a mild stressor, activating the immune system and giving it a workout" (1).

Furthermore, Dr Mark Harper writes about cold water swimming being linked with 'fewer illnesses and less stress'. "In a collaboration with Portsmouth, Naomi Collier, a fellow Brighton swimmer, is undertaking a PhD looking at health benefits. Our first study showed that, compared to controls, sea swimmers seemed to have a lower incidence and severity of colds during winter".

The website Paleo Leap states that "exposure (to cold water) just up to the point of adaptation and recovery actually bumps up your immune response: one study found that men who sat for 2 hours at 41 degrees Fahrenheit had higher levels of immune cells after the treatment.

By the same mechanism, swimming in cold water improves antioxidant status – of endogenous antioxidants, so the ones that are really effective. So it seems like as long as you don’t overdo the cold, the slight challenge to your body’s homeostasis just helps keep all your body’s defenses primed and ready to take on an actual threat." (7)

5. Other benefits

There are many other benefits, some of which are anecdotal. Even so I thought I'd just mention a few more in case they are of interest.

Some people say they use cold water swimming to control the symptoms of arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (Rob Starr, has published a book about his experiences with the latter). It may also find a role in ameliorating type-2 diabetes and even in reducing complications after surgery.

Open water swimming is also believed to be detoxifying and can reduce the risk of a heart attack and improve circulation. There are other benefits too and a great deal more information out there- just 'Google' it!

“If water is magic (and it is)...

... then cold water is concentrated magic, when all the pleasures and benefits of a longer swim get distilled down into a few short sharp minutes,” says regular open-water swimmer Jenny Landredth, whose book Swell: A Waterbiography is published by Bloomsbury in early 2017.

“It can feel as shocking as electricity, like a skin-prickling, blood-racing, brain-buzzing hit. It’s a terrible, brilliant alchemy and if it sounds almost like a drug, it definitely feels like an addiction; the craving to get in, to shrug off the warmth and put your near-naked self out into the freezing cold. You’ll never feel more alive.”


How I can help you...

I can work with you to achieve your goals, whatever they may be… CBT, Hypnotherapy and the other psychological therapies I offer can be tailored to address many issues, so if you would like to work on something that’s not included below get in touch.

Contact me

If you’re interested in taking the next step towards positive change get in touch, I would love to hear from you.

All messages come through to me personally, which I deal with as soon as I can. If you reach my answerphone please leave a voicemail or send a text or email.

I am happy to provide you with more information and answer any questions you may have. I will also create an effective solution tailored for you personally, if you choose to work with me.

Get in touch for more information, to arrange an appointment, FREE initial consultation or call back. All information is treated as strictly confidential.

Make positive change for life with Hypnotherapy and NLP plus CBT Therapy Bristol and North Somerset

Claire Paul (Hons), MSc, Dip. Hyp, Dip. LC/ PC, Psychologist Hypnotherapist and Professional Life Coach Bristol and North Somerset

FREE initial consultation: 07813 138 171/

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