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Freediving and Mental Health: Part 2 of 5

I never imagined I’d be applying what I learned during my Master’s degree as a personal therapist to the aquatic realm. Now, I see it as my responsibility to those in anguish to share my passion for what I have gained from my underwater adventures. This next entry comes from universally acclaimed badass and my best friend, Brent Fannin – President of the non-profit Kings of the Springs, which coordinates spring and river cleanups throughout Florida!

“Life on this planet contains many things, and undoubtedly, one of them is chaos. Although not all chaos is inherently negative, there comes a point that the mind simply needs an escape from the mayhem of daily life.

Without this escape, becoming and staying mentally healthy can be incredibly hard. Similar to the way our bodies need sleep, our minds need to relax. To stop constantly shifting focus from topic to topic and just exist in a moment where nothing is more important than that existence. To let everything slip away and just be.

In these moments, we can find a clarity that allows reflection, and if needed, an adjustment of perspective. It gives us the time and quietness to look at our past experiences, evaluate them, and make a plan to prepare for future experiences. Have we been hurt by someone? We can learn from it. Have we made mistakes? We can improve next time. But we need stillness and time to reflect or our daily lives can become a haphazard struggle to stay afloat mentally.

For me, I find these moments of escape in freediving. Sometimes it’s the remoteness of the location. Sometimes, it’s the quiet atmosphere. Often, it’s the sensory deprivation. As I dive, the chaos around me subsides. It disappears as I slowly drop into a quiet state of nothingness. My heart rate drops, my thoughts begin to slow, and I find peace. In this peace, sometimes I reflect. Sometimes I process feelings. Sometimes, I simply think of nothing. It’s these moments of remote and quiet stillness where I most often find the mental stability I am searching for.”

I hope you enjoyed this entry. The heart rate drop Brent referenced is triggered by the Vagus nerve that senses the immersion of the face in water, sending a signal throughout the body. This reaction of the body is often referred to as the Mammalian Dive Reflex, or MDR. Along with bradycardia, or the drop in heart rate, there are a slew of other changes that occur in the human body as a response to immersion. So many changes, in fact, that this reaction is also referred to as the “Master Switch of Life”, which has inspired the name of my freediving school!

Ready to learn more? Check out this article, “Science Confirms that the Vagus nerve is the Key to Well-Being“!