Dr Hussain Al-Zubaidi @irondoctorhaz | SWIM England Clinical Advisor, RCGP Lifestyle & Physical Activity Lead and Team GB AG Triathlete.
Hello there! I suspect like me you are eagerly anticipating this year's great north swim. It is going to be an awesome event. For the last few years, I have participated alongside my NHS colleagues. We are a team made up of GPs, consultants, and nurses. It is such a special weekend for us as we share our shared passion for the water not just for ourselves but for our patients. 
Being outside, connected to nature, with the cool water on your face is a sensory reset like no other. We will live now with more stress than ever before. We are surrounded by it on your computers, TVs, and phones. That perception of danger and uncertainty fuels anxiety and low mood. It also increases our risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It is so important that we take time to stop and pause. 
Open water swimming does that for me and many others. That moment treading into the water and feeling the cold on your feet helps to focus you on the present. Many worry about how cold the water is, but use this feeling! Instead, use it as I do to take the chance to pause and bring yourself to the present. 
Lean into it. Spend the next minute slowly moving forwards concentrating on your breath and the sensation. Change your perspective from being uncomfortable to being present in that moment. I promise you will for a time forget the worries on your mind, the weight on your shoulders. Cold exposure even at temperatures as high as 15-18C can work wonders for our physical and mental health. 

We come from a range of medical specialties including psychiatry, general practice, accident and emergency and community nursing. Despite this, we all understand that swimming has a more wide-ranging impact than any medication or surgical procedure. Because of this, I have set up the first NHS-run community swim group with the support of Everyone active, SWIM England and Mental health swims. Seeing firsthand the benefits it brings is so motivating.
Why swim?
Temperature exposure
Tactile stimulation 
Remove weight of joints – for those who struggle with impact exercises 
Community – Why not join a free-swimming community like Mental health swims!
If you work in healthcare and want more support helping people into the water then please give the SWIM England ‘Swimming as Medicine' project a look: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/swimming-as-medicine-launch/