The Dead Man's Float
We hear everywhere how COVID19 has had a massive impact on people’s mental health. There are long waiting lists to see therapists, anxiety and depression prescriptions have significantly increased and survey data show there is a surge in people experiencing depression, loneliness, isolation, stress and anxiety. Not to mention economic devastation and job anxiety. My heart goes out to young and old, and especially to those who because of their circumstances are particularly vulnerable.
I am one of the more fortunate people. My challenges are limited mostly to inconveniences, namely missing social and family interactions. I too am tired of the same old, day in and day out. I haven’t seen my out- of -province daughter for over a year. I am more afraid of potential complications of COVID19 than I am from dying.
Unfortunately, the news, social media platforms and channels and data leaves out the people who are thriving or coping. And this brings me me to the dead man's float.
The dead man's float is a survival swimming technique I was taught as a young camper in the open waters of Lake of the Woods, (Kenora, Ontario). It was drilled into me that if I should ever be stranded in a lake, river or ocean, the dead man’s float will keep me alive until rescued. I whole-heartedly believed in this survival strategy and to this day, practice it every summer when I go into a lake.
The technique is designed to quiet and calm your nervous system so much so that you can conserve your strength for hours, while waiting to be rescued. Those of you who are not familiar with this float, you are taught to hang in a prone floating position, face down, arms stretched forward and legs dangling down. You hang for as long as you can, taking on the limpness of a ‘dead-man’. When you need to breathe, you lift your head and take a breath while you simultaneously do a simple breaststroke. Then, you hang your head again. The float needs to be done with minimal exertion.
In calm or rough waters, you float it out somewhat like a jellyfish. We can all adopt this technique to get through the coming months. We will be rescued – and in the meantime, we can practice being calm, conserving our energy and increasing our stamina and endurance in order to survive in unsettled waters.
I am a certified professional coach and support individuals and organizations in professional and personal matters.
6/3/2021 05:27:27 pm
i was 12 years old, visiting Vancouver, and my mom took my brother and me to Stanley Park to learn to swim. The first thing we were shown was how to do the dead man's float and then the teacher said that to swim all we had to do was start moving our arms. I still can't do the Australian crawl but i can do the dead man's float. What a hoot, eh? lots of love, bEryl
6/3/2021 09:15:38 pm
What a hoot is right. The dead man's float has endured. I thought it was an apt metaphor for surviving the stormy covid seas. Thanks Beryl
7/3/2021 08:01:46 am
Reading this gave me a fresh breath of air Minda. We will be rescued indeed .. and meanwhile I will think of the dead man’s float when my mind and spirit fights this crazy current we are all in !
7/3/2021 08:46:07 am
Glad you have some inspiration from the dead man's float! Take care Danielle.
Cherry A. Huston
7/3/2021 08:31:48 pm
This is really apt. We all want to be ambitious but somtimes we have to be just skilled enough to do the Dead Man's Float. It doesn't actually take a lot of skill to do it, which is the good part. It is sort of a not doing much. Just floating. Calming ourselves, having faith, treading water and waiting for things to improve. A valuable skill indeed.
Apt metaphor for these Covid times, for sure! I’ve always loved just floating, face up, and not doing much. I imagine my method these days is akin to flipping from floating on my back, to deadman’s floating, then to joyous & rambunctious dolphin diving! Am personally enjoying the growing awareness among some of my human brethren, that we are but a part of the whole of our universe. It certainly brings out the best in us. Am still convinced this is but a beginning, and there’s waaay more wackiness to come. Glad to read your thoughts, Minda.
8/3/2021 07:58:32 am
Maila, thank you for your perspective on how to ride/ surf these waves.I like the rambunctious one particularly.
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My family, relationships, movement, nature, flexibility of mind, exploration of alternative perspectives & openness are central to my life.