Photo: Lake Baikal
I grew up living on stunning and unique Lake Baikal in Siberia, surrounded by magnificent mountains and wild, boundless taiga.
Baikal is the deepest and most ancient lake on the planet, holding one-fifth of the world’s fresh water. In the pine forests of the north, white tigers prowl the shores and in the depths lurk giant sturgeon fish found nowhere else.
But the greatest thing about the lake is its water — crystal clear and transparent and cobalt blue. People believe that Baikal’s water has magical, mystical power, and enormous energy. One local shaman’s legend professes that if you are able to completely submerge your body in the freezing lake for an hour, you will be rewarded with an extra 25 years of life.
Lake Baikal is cold, icy cold. The average daily temperature is below 40F. Even in August, the surface temperature is only about 50F. We could only take quick and bracing dips for a minute at a time. This pleasure was not for the faint of heart. First, there was mental preparation on the shore, then a deep breath, a race to the water, a wild plunge and then a desperate swim back, all accompanied by loud, happy screams.
As a competitive swimmer, I was spending afternoons practicing in the swimming pool, but only minutes in the lake. I always wondered what it would be like to swim for hours in warmer open water. Back then it was hard for me to imagine that it was even possible.
I found my answer in Bermuda! Here, I can swim for as long as I like in gorgeous, warm, turquoise water. I believe that it is a wonderful treat and a luxury. I’m still happy as a child every time I jump into the water.
It is common knowledge that being immersed in water is one of the best ways to relieve stress and tension. Whatever bad things happen during the day, the fresh, clean, aqua blue water of the ocean will change your mood for the better.
Swimming in an enormous expanse of water and struggling with waves requires a lot of co-ordination and effort, concentration on swim strokes, attention to movement and focus on breathing. This effort to stay afloat gives your mind a break from anxiety and negative thoughts. Swimming is helpful in the long term for stress release because it increases lung capacity which enables you to take deeper breaths and be more calm.
Exercising your entire body with a low-impact workout also stretches your muscles, leaving you relaxed.
If you don’t like swimming, you might get a lilo and float under the radiant blue sky, supported by the soothing swell of the ocean. You will recognize that you are a tiny particle in the vast universe.
Your problems will diminish against this pure and endless horizon. After every swim, you will feel reinvigorated both emotionally and physically.
Lake Baikal is not the only place where the water has a healing magic. Bermuda sits atop a magical triangle, and its waters will wash your troubles away.
You burn around 700 calories an hour while running! It is one of the easiest exercises and best strategies for coping with stress. While running you focus on the present moment, and not to get stuck with what has already happened or with what may happen in the future. Running also gives you a powerful feeling of controlling your body with your mind. You decide when and where you want to run, and how long.
Running on nature with a view of picturesque scenery will keep your mind from drifting off to stressful thoughts and negative emotions.
Use Mother Nature as an ultimate antidepressant!
\»Exposure to natural light can increase levels of mood-lifting chemical serotonin,\» says psychologist Rober Reiner, PhD. An easy way to unwind during or after a stressful and hectic day is to take a walk, even a short one. try it — it works.
Spend some time at the beach or in a park. Use all your senses — deep breathe the fresh air, feel the breeze on your face, look at the sky, watch the reflection of the sun or the moon in the water, find a familiar shape in a cloud. Enjoy the sound of nature — lapping waves, whistling frogs, rustling leaves, singing birds.