Water and living.

Let’s begin with the truth.

The self-care task for today didn’t go quite as planned. 

Day 2 – drink at least 2L of water.

I definitely didn’t manage to drink 2L of water today. Perhaps only about half, at a stretch? However, all those little droplets that didn’t make it into the perfect 2L don’t really matter.

I’m trying to believe that what matters is that I’m trying. That what matters is the work and effort we put in, rather than gaining the idealised, planned end result.

Something that I’m realising far sooner than I expected into these 30 days of self-care, is that it’s as much about banishing the idea of perfection, as it is about self-care. I was hoping to complete all 30 days perfectly, but that is wishful thinking. I guess that learning to accept imperfection as good and right, is a form of self-care in a way.

A few years ago, in the depths of the eating disorder, the monstrous voice in my head (which is also my own voice; it’s tricky to explain) made me severely limited my hydration. I made up rules about much water I was allowed to drink, and at what time, and it was incredibly harmful. The fear of the water “sticking” in my body, and never leaving, was overwhelming and intense. I never want to go back to that place.

During this time, I was alive, but I wasn’t living. I was on the brink, on the edge of living, and I wanted so badly to not be alive. I starved myself of water, energy and nutrients, and these were the darkest, most isolated years of my life.

Having not enough water is disastrous for both the mind and body. Our bodies are composed mainly of water, and each of our cells relies on it to function. Essentially, water is necessary for all that we do, and without it we cannot be who we are. We wouldn’t be, at all.

Today, water helps me to survive in more ways than one. Not only does drinking an adequate amount help me to live and recover, but also water in other forms has proved more healing than I ever could have expected. Swimming, the rain, the little creek running by our house; it all helps to replenish and radiate peace.

A little message to everyone reading this – please take care of yourself today. Drink water, eat, sleep, go outside, talk to someone. All these little things can make a massive difference. You deserve to not merely survive, but to live too.


Saltwater & Mental Health

I am underwater. The sea pushes above me, laps next to me, scatters as I move. Here, I am me.

Being within the crashing ocean is where I feel most safe. I feel free from the overwhelming constraints of life on land. My limbs are weightless, and the ocean cushions me. Underwater, sound is a light fuzz, and everything moves slowly, purposefully, with diligence. Humans are not very well designed for swimming, we are useless in terms of breathing and mobility in the water, but we do it anyway. And I love that. Something deep pulls us towards these waves that are far stronger, far more powerful, than our little selves.

I am lucky enough to live with the Tasman Sea on one coast, and the Pacific Ocean on the other. The western side of our islands are typically wild and brash; battering beyond what is humanly possible. The eastern side is quieter, more shy. It is within these vessels that I am free, that my anxiety is at bay, that I am no longer trapped.

Lakes, rivers, the ocean, they are all called blue spaces, bodies of water that research is discovering are good for our mental health. We have instinctively known this for centuries, as explorers were drawn to the sea by its promise of bountiful opportunities, and healers proclaimed the healing properties of saltwater. However, we are slowly now getting a scientific explanation for what our ancestors have known all along. Those that live near blue spaces, or spend more time in them, are generally more content and healthier.

It’s not surprising we feel a special connection to the sea. We share common ancestors with our water-dwelling friends, fish. Life as we know it began in the water, and through evolution, life moved terrestrially, into the land and trees. Although there are millions of years between us today, and the prehistoric fish that crawled from the sea onto the shores, I swear there are still parts of us that remember our roots; where we came from.

There is mystery surrounding why these blue spaces help us so much. Some researchers argue that since humans have become detached from nature only in relatively recent years (geologically of course), we still share a special bond with it. It has helped to create who we are. Therefore, returning to our natural state helps us immensely.

Another idea is the effect that the ocean has on our bodies physically. The sound of waves is great for making the brain more relaxed, and floating, rather than standing upright, helps to bring blood from our lower limbs and into the heart. This supplies the brain with more oxygen, helping to make us feel more alert.

What strikes me most about water, however, is the flow. It leaves and returns, it takes and it gives. This balance that is apparent throughout nature, is exemplified outstandingly in the ocean. I reckon we could all learn a thing or two from these extraordinary, blue spaces.

Information on the research between the links of blue spaces and mental health is from: