The first week of my Cold Water Challenge

This year I have been trying to be clear on my focus. What is it that I really want? I had spent so many decades of my life people pleasing others. I had forgotten what I like. This is easily done. In life we all need a little give and take, however sometimes if you are the perpetual giver. . .

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For me, I had lost my ability to find fun in anything. It was quite sad really, emotionally draining. Okay, I did end up having a slight medical issue too, then there's the pandemic, now hasn't that been a turbulent ride so far. 

It was back in February that I enrolled on something very new, then in March I tried something else, and I loved it. I realised that I love being part of a community. I loved to listen to articulate people. I was and still am very passionate about the processes that bring about that peaceful sense of inner well-being. That is why I remain a fan of Psychologies Magazine. I have tried so many of the ideas thrown out of the magazine over recent years, reading articles and attempting to put them into action.

I tried Paddle boarding.

I tried Kayaking.

I tried Zumba.

I tried the Gym.

I tried to finish a few of my never ending draft novels.

I tried to find a job that suited me, especially after being a stay at home mum for a while, then a mature student. Life on the other side of that was never going to be the same. 

The list goes on.

What I learned from February and March, the one thing that was lacking, I had no true habits and none of these new efforts were aligning to become a ritual or a repeat practise and I was growing frustrated at myself. Did I really like what I was doing?

I did love paddle boarding but I was so afraid of falling into the water and feeling frozen, I was more terrified of the what if, than able to enjoy the experience. 

I did love Kayaking but again, I was so terrified of the cold water. I can swim, fine. However the thought of what if. . . that Kayak tipped and I fell in. The cold on my lungs, the tightening of my chest, the panic breathing. Did I really want it?

I tried Zumba, however the class was so good it became overcrowded and I spent more time trying to keep my distance and not tread on the toes of others, than to simply embrace the music and the moves. I did like it, yet, the pandemic happened and time created a lull and a stop and a what if. . . we get to close?

I tried the Gym and it wasn't for me, if I am going to be on a treadmill, I would rather read a book while I walk - simultaneously, which wouldn't meet the health and safety criteria, so that was out from the start. With this in mind. How could I make these wonderful opportunities part of my ever day life?  With so many what if's. . .

I chose to take a look at three of them initially, and specifically: 

  1. Get my head around cold water, face it, challenge it and become stronger in it. Then if I fall in, it just won't matter. 
  2. I can do Zumba in the kitchen or watch a YouTube video - tick, it was about the exercise, not the social connection. Done.
  3. Put a treadmill in my garage, and walk on it at my leisure, read a book while I walk and take the health and safety risk into my own hands. So, I did.

I have come so far, already I have ticked off two of my first three goals. But, the cold water one, it challenged me. I couldn't even get into a cold shower for myself. I despise the cold! It turns me purple. What could I do to get passed this problem?

It was in mid October when an opportunity arose, an advertisement on a social media and I thought, do it. Don't think about it, just do it. I registered and signed up to become a participant of the November Cold Water Challenge for Cancer Research. If I couldn't do it for myself, do it for others I told myself.

The beauty of this opportunity, I have chosen to record my learning experience and growth in becoming resilient and tolerant when having to take a cold water shower. We can jump in the sea, a lake, get creative with a hose-pipe in the garden and more. I started off quite mediocre, I began with the shower, then later plunged in the bath. It has been an amazing experience, and I have come so far in the first week, because I am doing this for charity, whilst beautifully also doing it for myself.   

I have managed to pull together a video of this weeks antics so far. The Cold Water Challenge Community must try to stay under cold water for 30 seconds, (or less if you're new to the experience,) every day for the whole 30 days of November. I have pushed through all week and learned so much from this and it feels right to share the moments here with you. Click on this link to see my attempts at compiling a video summing up the week. My Cold Water Challenge  

It has been a bracing and invigorating week. I have been socialising, embracing nature and strengthening my tolerance to the cold. I hope after the month of November and this challenge that I will have supported a wonderful charity, and that my ability to paddle board and kayak become a long term hobby and past-time, because I should hopefully be eliminating those what if's.

I've also learned this week that there are many positives to be found in our efforts to please others. We just have to remember to ensure the people pleaser is having fun, too.  What do you think?

You take care in these autumnal wintering months.

If you are trying something new and you feel afraid, challenge what you're afraid of and gradually learn to appreciate that the fear exists to protect you, work alongside it, with it, in order to grow. 

Julie Spencer

Ambassador and Learning Support Assistant, Psychologies Magazine

Proud Ambassador for Psychologies Magazine. The magazine encapsulates many of my core values: being kind, have compassion, look after your health and wellbeing, be professional and be supportive of others. A little self belief can go a long way. I have studied as a mature student. I went into a writing frenzy and spent 3 years writing in solitude. I was a stay at home mum, too. What I learned: being alone for long periods of time is bad for your health and wellbeing. Thanks to a little nudge from Psychologies Magazine I am reconnecting and rebuilding my C.V. I'm a creative. I have lots of ideas and I need to constantly realign my focus onto one project at a time. Until recently I had a real fear for public speaking, but after reading a book that suggested I acknowledge my fears and challenge them anyway; with the support of the Psychologies community and more I'm working through my fears one blog at a time.