Understanding Resistance to Cold Water and How Therapeutic Principles Can Help

How can theories of resistance help us with swimming in cold waters, and life in more general?

It's been humbling to have so many responses to this article. The community following Wild Swimming Cornwall have talked and shared about their experiences of resistance with me, and shared how they work with that resistance to overcome inner obstacles, as well as wrestling with getting into cold water for the health and well being benefits. They have shared their experiences of how deepening their relationship with resistance, and finding the strength to overcome it, has been translatable across to other areas of life. beyond swimming. It seems to me that engaging with this sort of inner reflection broadens the scope and benefit of what is otherwise a physical practice. It's eco-therapy in action!

[Below is the beginning extract from the full article, which you can read over at Wild Swimming Cornwall here.]

Many a time I have stood at the shore, knee-deep in the icy cold waters. As the mental wrestling match between different parts of myself take over, I am overwhelmed by the desire to get out rather than get in. One part of me wants to swim, to shift my whole state of being, to get the buzz and feel the fullness, and be there with my friends who are already in and shrieking with exhilaration. The other part wants to retreat to safety, to stay warm, dry and nourished. As I stand on the shore, I’m genuinely unsure if I have the capacity to endure the full-blown sensory experience of the mighty cold. Will I survive? Of course I will. Get in, I won’t regret it.

In re-defining our understanding of resistance, we may find more self-compassion, self-safety and more courage to make positive actions for our wellbeing. This might look like moving through the resistance into the cold water, or listening to the part that wants the warmth and safety of the shore....

You can read the full article here.

"We are working with our biological mechanisms that are hardwired to search for safety, connection and emotional regulation. We rationally understand that swimming will make us feel good and that it aligns with our base desire to thrive, but our threat detection systems aren’t quite convinced that the risk is worth the reward."  

About Ben Ford

I am an Integrative Counsellor and Psychotherapist, working with adults who have experienced trauma and childhood adversity, as well as anxiety, depression, and men's issues.











I am part of a team at Gwynedd Therapy, who share therapeutic values and office spaces. We work together to achieve a thriving talking therapy practice. 

You may also find me with a team of people running charity eco-therapy retreats for people in addiction recovery.  

Gwynedd Logo Transparent Square.png