a female freediver with a mirror image beneath the surface of the water
Freediving,  Learn About Diving

Dealing with Stress and Anxiety through Freediving

Our daily routine, the society we’re in and this fast-paced world itself are the root causes of our disquietude. People are in a constant pursuit of being at peace hence, try countless ways to overcome the stress and anxiety that these factors bring about. I’ve been a part of this population until I learned about freediving. For the past few years, I have been dealing with stress and anxiety through freediving. With that, let me share with you how it has been helping me exactly to stay grounded.

Practices for Deep Relaxation

a female freediver swimming among the school of jackfish
Surrounded by a school of trevally in Bauan, Batangas
Freediving gear from Decathlon Philippines

When I’m anxious, every inch of me is tensed to the core. Thoughts and images fly here and there making me feel restless. These very thoughts cause panic that leads to short and shallow breaths and uneasiness. More often that not, when these episodes kick in, I don’t know exactly how to calm myself. Crying is a good way for emotional and mental cleansing but I’m afraid it’s just temporary. That’s when the deep relaxation practices in freediving comes in.

Prior to the activity, freedivers have to be in a state of relaxation. It actually helps a diver to equalize easily, prolong the breath hold and avoid cramps and black outs. This can be achieved through different practices such as breathing up (known as ‘belly breathing’) and body scanning. These two allow the freediver to enter a trance-like state as they pay attention to deep and steady breaths from the stomach and assess the whole body easing the tensed parts.

When I’m off the ocean, I still practice these in a form of yoga and meditation.

The Ocean Therapy

Research studies have proven how ocean physically, emotionally and mentally heals people. Personally, there is just a lot of things about being near or in the ocean that actually calms my mind and senses making me consider it as a really good therapy.

It is the warmth of the sun on my skin;
the sight of the horizon where the sky meets the sea;
the sound of the waves crashing into the shore;
the shimmering and glistening waters under the sun;
the sun rays gracefully piercing through the surface to the abyss;
the salt water wrapping my whole being;
the brine that keeps me afloat;
the warm ocean breeze in the morning;
the cool ocean breeze at night;
the breathtaking sunrise at daybreak;
the gorgeous cotton candy skies and the golden fireball at sunset;

a girl at the beach carrying freediving gear
Out of the waters after a really good dive in Mantigue Island, Camiguin. Time to chill at the beach!
Freediving gear from Decathlon Philippines

Just the thought of how therapeutic the ocean alone actually helps me big time in dealing with stress and anxiety.

Endless Surprises Underwater

My everyday routine makes my life rather bland. It’s utterly tiring to be doing and seeing the same things everyday. There are days, though, that beg to differ with few twists but still, it’s mostly the same. Sank in that office chair, I couldn’t help but daydream of the ocean as an escape.

The thing about this planet is that, 70% of it is ocean that holds great and gaudy life and surprises beneath the surface. If we feel like we’re seeing the same things during a dive, we’ll hop into a ride and visit another site as we please. But it’s not always the case. Most of the time, we get to encounter and swim with different creatures – shark, turtles, a school of fish, different species of fishes that we haven’t seen before and more. If we’re observant enough, we’d also see some nudibranchs and other creatures that are amazingly camouflaging.

A dive trip itself is a break from the routine. The surprises that the ocean offer makes it more worthwhile.

Related article: Best Dive Sites in Batangas

a female freediver surrounded by a school of fish
Swimming into the middle of a school of trevallies

Freedom and Tranquility in Weightlessness

When stressed and anxious, I constantly feel down and dragging every time. I could hardly get up in the morning and make it through the day. I feel like Atlas except that I am carrying an unseen and heavy load on my back and a lump in my chest. This weight actually causes panic and physical discomfort. It is something that I can’t just simply brush off; but definitely not when I’m at the ocean.

One of the most fascinating and liberating feelings that freediving has given me is that of freedom and tranquility in weightlessness. It is more than just the human body being physically buoyant in the brine. As the saltwater wraps my whole being, it cradles both my tensed body and thoughts. It slowly eases the stress and dragging feeling away. Further, being at the ocean makes me feel like a free verse poetry in motion. I move with the waves, tides and the currents. There is no resistance – just oneness and pure freedom and free-flow.

I Am Never Alone

“Never dive alone,” is among the most important principles in diving. Divers can’t just swim away and dive down without a buddy as it poses great risk. No one is going to watch over the other and save him or her in an immediate danger. Thus, it is a must to dive with someone who can go to depths as much as you can do or more as well.

The buddy system in diving, in general, cultivates trust and confidence in someone. Every time, I actually think that I’m entrusting my dive buddies with my life as I go down. I know that someone would actually pull me up me when things go wrong. This doesn’t just go in the waters but also in life. My dive buddies are more than ‘just buddies’ in the ocean. Some of them have become really good friends. They would hear me out until I feel better. Hence, it makes me feel like I am never alone in my battles.

Learn How to Freedive

Freediving has helped me quite a lot in dealing with stress and anxiety. If you also wish to feel how exactly I felt and learn how to freedive, you may book lessons with the group I used to train with, the Ocean Limits PH. They are a group based in Anilao, Batangas.

While it’s not safe yet to be gallivanting around, you may want to read and know about freediving – the gear, how is it different from other diving activities, the sought after dive sites and more!

How about you? How do you deal with stress and anxiety? Tell us about it!

Anne Elizabeth Gumiran, also known as Queenie, is a 20-something, full-time public school teacher, a part-time travel blogger and a freediver. She started putting her stories of adventures and misadventures into words and pictures in 2017 and continues to do so as she shares her advocacy, Sustainable Traveling.

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