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How To Trust & Jump Into What Scares You

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about cold water swimming — an article here, a documentary there, and some conversations with friends. All that talk about the mental and physical benefits from wintery dips got me curious. And since I love to jump into challenges, I decided to mention it to my husband. He looked at me like I’d gone mad and then said he’d try it, too.

We have a frigid body of water about an arm’s length away from where we live, so I decided when better than right now?! On a freezing week in February, we made a plan that we’d do it on Friday. When the day came, we dropped the kids off at school, looked at the 38-degree water, and then almost wanted to back out. One of my philosophies has always been that when you commit yourself, you have to follow through. So we proceeded to change into our bathing suits.

My husband ran down the stairs in front of me, straight into the water. Instantly, he screamed — exhilarated. I fumbled around with my phone, trying to document my bravery and, yes, to show that bravery off online. “Don’t hesitate!” he yelled to me.

So I peeled off my hotel-style bathrobe and ran into the water. A wave of euphoria washed over me, and I thought to myself, “I’m doing this!” I turned around and held my arms up in triumph. (Yes, again, shamelessly for the camera!) And after that wave of bliss, an actual wave of saltwater knocked me over. I found my way back to my feet, laughing, and crawled out of the salty, cold ocean.

I felt strong, I felt brave... and I felt like my feet were going to fall off.

I walked back into the house on what felt like two blocks of ice and covered my feet with towels — remembering that the sensation would pass as most unpleasant feelings do. After a few minutes, it did, and all I was left with was the endorphins you get when you do something challenging. According to Science Focus, this sensation is “cortisol, a stress hormone, that is released from your adrenal glands, which maintains this state for minutes to hours, while a surge of beta-endorphin hormones in the brain provides pain relief and gives a sense of euphoria.”

Of course, at this point in the article, you might be thinking, there’s no way in hell I’m cold water swimming, so what does this have to do with me?!

I’m glad you asked!

This story about cold water swimming is just one example of how I chose to trust my curiosity, trust my instincts (and trust my husband, who urged me not to hesitate). This story, like many stories, is a plot for just about anything in life that excites or scares you. So whatever trend, challenge, or goal is on your mind, take my advice.

  • Choose to do things that scare you. You don’t have to jump into freezing cold water, but maybe you ask that mom at the park you’ve wanted to befriend out for lunch or over for coffee.

  • Honor the commitments that you make to yourself. If you say you’re going to walk 10,000 steps every day, then make sure you do it. Not only will it give you the benefits of exercise, but it will also boost the confidence to know you’ll complete the promises you make to yourself.

  • Don’t hesitate and jump right in. Many people have great ideas that live inside their heads for (way too many) years. On the other hand, some people (like me!) like the “if you build it, they will come” mode. Try it, and see what happens.

  • Be brave and accept that descriptor. When I jump right into things, people often say, “you’re nuts!” On the other hand, I’ve got some accolades. Both are true, of course, but it’s the *Bravery Badge* I choose to wear on my sleeve.

Finally, whatever dreams are on your mind, just remember to keep on swimming.

The only way to find out the longer-term benefits of something enticing you or pulling at your intuition is to try it. And then try it again (which I plan to do tomorrow)! Oh, and because I’m brave but not crazy, I’ve got swimming shoes for this run!

P.S. If you want to watch my journey, look out for my reels on @leahwisemanfink!

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