IN a world where many find themselves struggling I spend a lot of my time talking with others about any coping mechanisms they have found useful along the way.

We can’t always erase the challenges that life so often throws at us, but we can all do something about our own sense of wellbeing and resilience in order to cope with them as best we can.

One past-time which has increased hugely in popularity recently is that of sea swimming.

More and more I hear people saying that it has helped them in a whole variety of ways and there is plenty of research to back these claims up.

Cold water immersion has been shown to help reduce anxiety, assist with coping with stress, support positive sleeping patterns, ease physical aches and pains, boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure and improve a person’s mood.

For anyone interested in trying it, we could not be luckier here in Devon to be so close to a beautiful and extensive coastline where you will find a group of sea swimmers ready to welcome you every day of the year.

One such group is Healthscape CIC; an organisation that has been set up to offer both social support and local opportunities for people to enhance their mental health and wellbeing.

This week in Teignmouth the local branch of Healthscape met for a Mayday swim. They were blessed with warm sunny weather and a calm sea for their festive dip. Many had turned up with flower hats especially for the occasion. From the shoreline they could be heard both laughing and singing various songs and clearly having a whale of a time.

Quite apart from the swimming itself, what struck me even more was the supportive and friendly atmosphere of the group. It was the opposite of ‘cliquey’ but instead was a warm and inclusive group of people who made everyone feel equally valued and welcomed. Of course the feelings of being valued and included are also crucial to a person’s sense of wellbeing – so mixing all these elements together with the swimming it was easy to see why the popularity of the group is growing so quickly.

Some people stayed in for just five minutes and others for quite a bit longer – everyone is free to enjoy the experience in their own way and in support of their own needs.

My husband Jukka, a seasoned Finnish ice swimmer, has already been for his first swim with the group and is planning to go again. Personally I have never been a fan of the cold, but having seen the fun had by the group on Mayday even I am tempted to join them next time.

Thank you to Val for inviting us along and to Peta, Nicky and Julie for making us feel so welcome. If you have been thinking about trying something completely new and want to do that in a warm and friendly environment then perhaps you might like to give sea swimming a try too?

The group meet regularly on Sundays and also at least once a month for an evening dip as well.