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3 Simple Ways To Learn to Swim Faster (Or Learn Nearly Any Other Skill)

3 Simple Ways To Learn to Swim Faster (Or Learn Nearly Any Other Skill)

Because I had never seriously done anything athletic before, I really wanted to join a sports team in high school. I went down the list of all the sports at my school. Every time I played a sport with a ball, the ball consistently found its way to my face. So, nothing with a ball. Then, the list got very short: running, wrestling, or swimming. I took some swimming lessons when I was in elementary school, so I decided that I’d found my sport. I asked my swim team friend how I could join. I needed to make the team by swimming faster and learning butterfly. In doing so, I learned not only how to swim faster but how to build any new skill, like writing or dancing.

1. Get someone/something to keep you accountable

Nothing feels better than starting a new activity like that new yoga class or that new diet. But reflect back on all the times you have tried to change your life. You will find a lot more beginnings than endings. Why? Because starting is actually a lot of fun. It isn’t too hard to try something new when it feels exciting and different. The hard part is what happens between the beginning and the end- and a swim instructor or workout partner, for example, can help you with just that. Think of those moments when you feel as if your body cannot lift itself out of bed; when absolutely anything sounds better than going swimming or going to the gym; when cleaning your desk suddenly jumps to the top of your priority list.

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Your mind will give you every excuse possible not to improve, but having an instructor you have paid for will make your consistency a lot easier to maintain. Instructors are not the only options either. Joining a club, team, or even a competition can all help you to push yourself by providing an imaginary gun to your head- with social pressure as the ammo.

2. Do not talk about your new goal

Think about your very successful friend, the one that is going to Harvard or has a nice job. There are usually two options: 1) That person brags about their accomplishments, not what they plan to do, or (the more pleasant, common option), 2) Everyone talks about that person’s accomplishments for them.

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In both these examples, the successful person doesn’t prioritize talking about what they plan to do.

Here’s another way to see this in action: say out loud: “I’m going to lose weight. Tomorrow, I’m going to meticulously plan out my calories for each meal by writing it in the Notes App on my phone. Then, at 8:00pm everyday I’m going to jog for 3.576 miles.”

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Feels good, doesn’t it? Imagining yourself putting on your running shoes. Imagining yourself eating some kale. But learning new skills requires getting your happiness from actually carrying out your plans, not just the satisfaction of verbalizing them.

3. Recognize that failures are bound to interrupt you

I remember periods in my swim career where I had a really tough workout and then my times got faster. So, as long as I pushed harder, I should have kept continuously improving, right? Nope. Sadly, there will be periods where you push harder, but you just can’t make your times faster. Or you can’t understand that math problem. Or you get an injury that prevents you from achieving your goal. And that’s okay.

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Point #1 is great for getting you through those hard times. Perceive obstacles as something else to work on, like a new drill that will better your form or improve your breathing. Then, when you are able to, you can go back to your regular approach. Switching up your regime can keep things fresh and less stressful.

By working with the YMCA instructor, I improved my times enough to join the swim team. Then, the swim team helped me to improve my times and form with grueling morning practices. Now, it has been two years since I have been on a team. But one of the best feelings you get from acquiring a new skill, is its lingering control over you. Every so often, I seriously feel like I need to strip off and get into a pool and complete some laps. These thoughts belong to the same guy who once dreaded taking a 30-minute lesson to learn butterfly. Follow these tips and soon enough, you won’t need to push yourself: your new hobby will push you.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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3 Simple Ways To Learn to Swim Faster (Or Learn Nearly Any Other Skill)

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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