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Water and Mental Health

By Eve Brownstone, LCPC

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” — Loren Eiseley 

All my life I have found magic, healing, and fun in water whether in Lake Michigan, a pool at a JCC, or the shore of the Mediterranean. The first time I remember swimming was four years old at a pool at a YMCA in Hyde Park.  I was hooked. Many of us live in Chicago to live close to Lake Michigan. They say that water is life. Water keeps us alive and well in many ways.

Here I will outline benefits and activities to try with water.

Therapeutic Benefits of Water

  1. Relieves stress
  2. Boosts happy endorphins
  3. Boosts hydration
  4. Brings peace of mind
  5. Connects with nature
  6. Adds more fun to your life
  7. Sleep better
  8. Helps with emotional self-regulation

 In the summer months, I would take clients down to Lake Michigan to stand in the water to feel themselves connect more with nature and themselves.  Clients would let go of grief and worries into the waves.

Therapeutic Activities on the lake:

  1. Walk along the shoreline.
  2. Stand with your feet in the water.
  1. Let go of your worries and grief into the waves. By speaking them out into the waves.
  2. If the water is warm, dive in.
  3. While swimming in the water, dive in when you think a negative thought.
  4. Meditate on the shore.
  5. Float on your back and breathe. Smile.
  6. Make a sandcastle (Play with your inner child).

Client Testimonial:

“My sessions with Eve often happen at the lakefront here in Chicago. Sometimes we sit side by side and take in the constancy of the water. Sometimes we walk and talk. Every time I discover more than I ever thought possible in one 50-minute span of time. The setting of nature, the waves lapping at the sand, the different elements, and their interaction – all of this blends to remind me that I am whole. I am constant and also changing. I am here.”K

Therapeutic Activities for a Pool

  1. Swim laps

As you swim laps, tell yourself affirmations

I am strong.

I am enough.

I am capable.

I am loved.

I got this.

  1. Using a kickboard, imagine (person, place, or thing) which produces angry in you.       Instead of kicking the person place or thing kick the water. Do some kicking laps. 

           You’ll feel less angry.

  1. Meditate in the water. Let go of your mind in doing laps.
  2. Float on your back and let go.
  3. Don’t forget your inner child. Do some handstands or play Marco Polo. 🙂

More Water Fun

  1. Drink more water. 64oz at least.
  2. Take long showers and bubble baths
  3. Have a water balloon toss or fight in Summer.
  4. Enjoy a fountain.
  5. Wash your hands under cool water.
  6.  Find some water: river, ocean, lake and look. We can learn a lot.
  7. Photograph a sunrise over the lake.
  8. Splash cool water on your face.
  9. Drink tea cold and hot.
  10. Run in a sprinkler. Remember the child within.

Try some of these fun activities in the heat of Summer. Swimming or standing by the water can bring peace, contentment, and deeper contention with yourself and nature. If we can’t get to a lake or pool, looking at photographs of water like the included photo may also lessen stress.More and more people are reaching out for support these days.  We are beginning to breathe a collective breath. Feel free to reach out to me through Symmetry Counseling at  (312) 578-9990.

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