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Rich's wellbeing adventures with the Edinburgh Blue Balls

By anyone’s standards I have been pretty unlucky throughout my life. Despite this adversity I have always been able to maintain my mental health, although like everyone I’ve experienced peaks & troughs. This is probably because I’m very proactive in looking after my mental (& physical) wellbeing, through mindfulness, yoga, running, cycling, singing in the Phoenix Soul & Gospel choir & now cold-water dipping with the Blue Balls!

Growing up mental health was something we talked about as a family due to the depression & anxiety my mam suffered from. Being open & honest about these things, which are completely normal, meant we were able to support each other. As such, I’ve always been aware of my own mental wellbeing and the importance of being proactive in maintaining it. Currently I only need the support of my family & friends, but in the past I’ve used both counselling & neuropsychology. I’m also Mental Health First Aid trained.

In my local area, I’d often see the Blue Balls gathering or going into the sea.

For me there’s a shared sense of belonging & a friendly smile wherever you look

Initially I didn’t have the balls to get in, but at the start of the year I had chronic neck pain, so wanted to try cold-water dipping as a way of coping. I was a little nervous that I didn’t have it in me, so went on my own the day before my 1st Blue Balls dip to give it a go. It was early January, so all I can remember was that it was bloody freezing, but when I got out I felt amazing & had forgotten about the pain I was in. The next day I joined the Blue Balls!

It’s hard to put my finger on what I love about the Blue Balls, but for me there’s a shared sense of belonging & a friendly smile wherever you look. I love the diversity (all ages, shapes, abilities, nationalities, & sexualities), but the fact that when you are in the water you are all equal, or at least equally cold!

If I was to give myself advice 5 years ago it would be this: Enjoy every moment & get in the cold water – NOW!

Huge thanks to Rich for sharing your story with us! You can find the Edinburgh Blue Balls on Instagram or visit their website: edinburghblueballs.co.uk

For more journeys, visit: penumbra.org.uk/your-journeys

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