Some people breeze through life, rarely thrown off course no matter what hits them. Others flounder at every turn, weighed down by life’s challenges. Most are somewhere between the two, minds preoccupied with the minutiae of the everyday as they strive to meet the often conflicting demands of home, work, family and friends – leaving little room for personal reflection. 

What if we all took a deep breath and dived into fresh pools of experiences – ones that might open up fresh ways of seeing the world? 

Outdoor – or wild – swimming has been making a splash over the past few years as more people seek to re-engage with the natural world and bring more adventure into their lives. And this egalitarian pastime, with its frog’s-eye view, certainly meets the brief. The exhilaration of taking a dip in a sun-kissed lake or running into crashing waves on a shoreline is reason enough to take the plunge, but this unencumbered pursuit also brings a raft of physical and mental health benefits. Indoor or outdoor, swimming’s focus on the breath – the inhalation and exhalation – has a meditative quality and can help to ease the day’s woes and quieten chattering thoughts. You don’t need to be a distance swimmer, but an open mind will work wonders. 

Writing fiction can also provide a space to escape and explore, but just as wading into a river can take a leap of faith, it can be equally as daunting to pen the first line of a paragraph, let alone craft a whole novel. Flash fiction, short compositions of up to 1,000 words, is a neat entryway to the process – and Breathe’s flash fiction notebook is a great place to start.