Scotland the Brrrave…

…Or Just Pure Baltic?

With lives forever on fast-forward it can be difficult to build in much needed breaks. So how do we slow down and capture precious fleeting moments before life rushes on again? Diana McLeish finds beachcombing, ice bathing and Mother Nature steps in to create moments of joy.

Scotland is full of hidden gems but what many don’t know is that our beaches are rich with treasure and some of it has tumbled back and forth in the North Sea for over 100 years. Finding sea glass and sea pottery creates glimmers, precious little moments that spark joy within me. The more often you look for them, the more often they appear.

So as we approach a new season full of hope, love and positivity my message to you is to spend more time doing what you enjoy with an attitude of gratitude to benefit wellbeing and look for glimmers. I have been beachcombing since I was a child and continue to do so throughout the seasons, come rain or shine. It is a form of mindfulness and nostalgia. Something I rely on more so now than ever to navigate through life – bringing inner peace and calm.

I think most people could benefit from just slowing down to appreciate the small, simple things in life. We can be guilty of rushing through each day at 150 mph chasing the big things until we are forced to stop. I was guilty of this too until I took a career break, post maternity, from my fast paced corporate job after 10 plus years to spend more time with my husband and three boys. I will of course return to work but have massively benefited from this extra time at home. 

I’m a great believer in not waiting for the perfect moment but in seizing each moment and making it perfect. For me, for various reasons the timing was now or never.

I have always loved the seaside. Each tide brings new treasure and the waves remind us that the highs and lows are part of Mother Nature – part of life. Over the years I have explored most of the beaches along the Fife Coastal Path looking for sea glass. In recent years I’ve spent more time around the tidal pools where I enjoy wild swimming. Each visit is an adventure, you never know what you might find.

So What Drew me to the East Neuk?

My gran had a house in a beautiful little fishing village which still holds a very special place in my heart. We spent every summer on the beach as kids and when my four siblings were gathered at the rockpools looking for crabs, I was on the shore searching for treasure.

 I used to store my sea glass in jars until my son suggested we make pendants for our neighbours. They all loved sharing our treasure, pieces we had carefully hand picked, washed and reloved, it brought us all great joy. It was a very positive and uplifting experience which gave me the confidence to start a new adventure.

Making jewellery, beachcombing, and wild swimming fills me with positive energy. Being creative helps me feel peace and calm.  It’s great for my mindset and has become part of a self healing journey in many ways. I have always enjoyed swimming and beachcombing. My love for winter swimming however only started in December 2020.

Intrigued by the buzz surrounding Wim Hoff and the health benefits of cold water therapy I took regular cold showers throughout lockdown and gradually built up the resilience to go to Abies Loch that year before Christmas.

It was exhilarating. Like everyone else we had been confined to our homes during covid and as restrictions eased the loch became our happy place. It was peaceful, and allowed us to escape and reset. I love being in nature and getting in the cold water shocked my system and woke up all of my senses. It was thrilling.

From the lochs I progressed into the North Sea and into the tidal pools. There are now various wellness saunas in Kingsbarns and Elie which I recommend if you want to add more zen.

I think more people are discovering the benefits of hot and cold water therapy for wellbeing – seizing life, staycationing and making the most of what we have here in Scotland. There are also lots of beautiful outdoor spas dotted around our lochs, including at Taymouth Marina. Bliss.

I just wish I had discovered wild swimming sooner. For me it is a very personal thing, almost spiritual, but I know a lot of people enjoy going in groups for social connection so if you do try it, do what works best for you.

Do your research and speak to your GP if you have underlying health issues before you go – and swim responsibly.

On the days I can’t get to the lochs or coast I hop into my ice bath in the back garden and kick start my morning with a refreshing three minute dip. It has been transformative for me. I love it. I got one for Christmas inspired by Wim Hof and the amazing Braid sisters.

Diana in her Big Bobble Hat enjoying a Pure Baltic Dook

The Braid sisters have been cold water swimming every single day since lockdown to heal from the death of their dad who passed in 2018 from terminal cancer. Their dad had introduced them to wild swimming when they were younger, taking them to all the spots where he swam as a boy. So going back to nature reconnected them with him, ‘we were able to be there for each other, to support, love and lift each other up during one of life’s most traumatic experiences. We felt lost for a very long time but during lockdown we felt drawn to the water and slowly began to heal,’ says Amanda.

‘We believe in the healing power of Mother Nature to support our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing and we want to help others via our sisterhood ‘”Ignite Your Fire Within”’, continues Martine. ‘As part of this model we set up Pure Baltic Ice Baths with 10% of all proceeds going to “Fire & Peace Recovery” to help people with their mental health, and suicide awareness. You can find us on Instagram and facebook. So whatever you are going through, you are not alone. We are here for you’.

Amanda and Martine Braid are two of the most inspiring women I know. They have encouraged me to go on my own adventure into the unknown this spring to meet Wim Hoff in the Netherlands on a cold water and breathwork retreat for personal growth – so I shall let you know how that goes.

Amanda and Martine Braid in their Big Bobble Hats

I channelled this new found bravery and inspiration into setting up North Sea Gifts by D where everything is hand picked with care from the beach, uniquely shaped by waves and hand made with love. It has been a dream come true so far and one of the most rewarding and fulfilling adventures of my life.

You can find me on Instagram, etsy and in gift shops in and around the West End including Plantique in Partick, The Leith Collective at Glasgow Fort and Wilson’s Catch of the Day in Hyndland.

Self love and self care are essential to our wellbeing. Our health is our wealth and family is everything. Time is precious. So do more of what you love and slow down to enjoy small things before they pass. I am so grateful of this little career pause to rest and reset, focus on wellbeing and see what happens next. 

Peace and gratitude to you and yours.

For a chance to win a Westender Wellbeing Bundle click here.

North Sea Gifts by D on Insta

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