Today I discovered that my breath hold while swiming underwater has gotten longer.
A good 10 seconds longer, and even if that doesn't seem like much, it is when you are propelling your body under the water for any extended amount of time.
While my current breath hold time is nothing to get excited over, today I realized that when I focused on something other than how long I had before I needed to surface, I was able to relax. The jittery feeling in my diaphragm melted away. I ignored the little bit of water filling my nose; it wasn't going much further than that. When I was a kid, this just came naturally, but I've found that getting back into that mindset as an adult is really interesting. Challenging would be a better term.
There are, I'm sure, so many psychological barriers that weigh on us as adults, that just weren't there during childhood. The daily grind of adult responsibility can trigger all kinds of stress, even if it's not outright noticeable. We stash the little stresses away like old receipts, that for some reason we don't just throw in the trash. These little stresses, impacted by larger ones, accumulate like paper mache, and it gets harder to shake them off with each passing year.
The one thing I can say that initially distracted me today, were the tiles on the bottom of the pool. One long dark glazed line extended beneath me. I simply focused on my surroundings and less on an actual speed I was trying to travel at. The almost-panic knot in my chest loosened even more.
It really comes down to relearning how to enjoy spending time underwater. I always have; diving down as much as possible for that feeling of weightlessness. But learning how to leave my day floating on the surface, or sitting on the side of the pool, while I frolic beneath is a little journey of discovery in itself.