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Granite Sea Girls: How cold water dipping is helping women’s mental health

Mya Lorimer has bravely opened up about her mental health struggles and why it inspired her to start a women's cold water dipping group at Aberdeen Beach.

The Granite Sea Girls group are pictured at Aberdeen Beach before heading into the chilly water.
Women of all ages are invited to go for a dip with the Granite Sea Girls at Aberdeen Beach every Sunday morning. Image: Mya Lorimer

When Mya Lorimer was struggling with her mental health last year, she found solace and a sanctuary in the icy North sea.

Outwardly vivacious, super friendly and with an infectious zest for life, nobody would know the inner torment that Mya has coped with on a daily basis for years.

Diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) at the age of 18, Mya, from Aberdeen, has daily struggles with anxiety, mood swings, negative body image and building relationships.

But the 22-year-old says invigorating cold water dips at Aberdeen Beach have improved her mental health immeasurably.

Mya Lorimer with women from her cold water dipping group.
Mya Lorimer, pictured front left, says cold water dips have changed her life so she is now helping other women to discover the therapeutic benefits of cold dips. Image: Mya Lorimer

Now Mya is on a mission to help other women soak up the benefits of cold water submersion through the Granite Sea Girls, a sea dip and social group for women.

Feeling confident and more resilient than ever, Mya, who also has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is also determined to use her voice to break the stigma surrounding borderline personality disorder (BPD) and other mental health conditions.

“The cold water builds up your resilience,” says Mya.

“I noticed that I’ve become a much more confident and resilient person for doing it so it’s nice to be able to share that with the group.”

Mya at Aberdeen Beach.
Mya says the cold water helps her to recharge and re-set. Image: Mya Lorimer

Cold water builds resilience

The epitome of resilience, Mya, who works full-time as a manager in Sainsburys, has struggled with her mental health from a young age.

“I really struggled at school, basically I’ve really struggled with my mental health for many years,” says Mya

“When I first got diagnosed with BPD I didn’t really talk about it to anybody, I didn’t really know much about it because there’s not much awareness instead there’s more of a negative stigma about it.

“For me, day-to-day I sometimes struggle quite a lot with my mood, they swing quite a bit and I get quite bad anxiety some days too.

“I also have quite a distorted image of my body and how I view myself so it made it difficult a few years ago to build on relationships and make friends.”

Mya holds a Granite Sea Girls tote bag.
Mya says the group dips have proved really popular. Image: Mya Lorimer

75-day cold water dipping challenge at Aberdeen Beach

But last summer, when Mya felt particularly low, she challenged herself to do a 75-day cold water dipping challenge at Aberdeen Beach.

“I was really struggling with my mental health a lot last year so I used the dips and the challenge as a way to get outside and make friends,” says Mya.

“I wanted to create a space for myself that felt comfortable and the dips really did that for me.

“Day to day now, I’m a lot better.

“I’ve also gone through therapy and I still have a therapist that I see every two weeks to help me understand how my brain works.

“There’s not a cure for it but there’s different resources and different ways to manage it and help me get through day to day to help me not struggle so much which is lovely.”

The Grate Sea Girls group cold water dipping in Aberdeen.
Mya, front, with the brave Granite Sea Girls. Image: Mya Lorimer

Granite Sea Girls

During her challenge, Mya posted updates on her social media page and the positive reaction she received inspired her to start a women’s dipping group.

“I was posting my dips on social media and I had a lot of women message me during it to say they really wanted to try sea dips but they were scared to do it,” says Mya.

“I know a lot of girls feel uncomfortable dipping with men or dipping in a mixed groups so I thought there was a bit of a space for a women’s group.

“It just felt like it was something that was needed in the beach community.”

The benefits of cold water dipping are endless. Image: Mya Lorimer

Taking the plunge

In March this year, Mya took the plunge and launched Granite Sea Girls where women of all ages are invited to Aberdeen Beach for a cold water dip every Sunday morning at 9am.

“I was quite shocked about the number of people who came along as at one dip we had 23 women which is amazing,” says Mya.

“One of the main things I wanted was for everyone to feel comfortable.

“I really made it so that everyone can come and feel welcome and feel that they’re appreciated in the group.”

Since starting the group, Mya says the feedback has been so positive.

“A lot of the girls who come along say that as soon as they go in the water, they’re not thinking about anything that has been upsetting them or stressing them out,” says Mya.

“You’re just thinking about how present you are in the sea and how present you are being part of the group.”

Group of women enjoying cold water dipping at Aberdeen Beach.
Mya says firm friendships have formed at the group. Image: Mya Lorimer

Therapeutic benefits of cold water dipping

Asked how she feels after a dip, Mya says it changes all the time.

“We had a really calm sea on Sunday so afterwards I felt quite relaxed and chilled out then at another dip the waves were crazy so we were all singing and laughing so afterwards I felt tired but happy and the next day I still had a buzz from it.”

In the space of just a few months, Mya says it’s lovely to see firm friendships forming.

“It’s so nice to see the friendships building up in the groups,” says Mya.

“A lot of the girls have opened up to me about themselves and why they’re dipping.

“It’s nice to see them have a space and a place for them to feel like they can be themselves.”

Start the day the refreshing way with a cold water dip. Image: Mya Lorimer

Fun-filled dips

Mya is also keen to bring a sense of fun to the dips.

“When I was at university, I did a lot of research into childhood trauma and one of the things I learned was that as adults we don’t partake in play and fun activities as much as we should so that’s one of the things that I wanted to incorporate in the dips,” say Mya.

“So we’ve had water pistol fights and we’re going to have an inflatables day soon.”

Going forward, Mya has lots of plans for the group.

“We’ve got a few trips away toe different beaches and lochs,” says Mya.

“I’ve also been doing a lot of different events with Debbie who owns Seabiscuit Sauna at the beach.

“So we’ve had beach yoga, flower crown making, sauna and dips and a journal circle.”

Raising awareness of BPD

Mya will also continue to use her voice to raise more awareness of BPD and other mental health conditions.

“The stigma around it is really negative so it’s about stopping that negative stigma and stopping people with BPD being ashamed to talk about it,” says Mya.

“I want to raise awareness of what it actually is instead of what people think it is.”

The Granite Sea Girls meet every Sunday at 9am at the Fittie end of Aberdeen Beach. For more information check out the Granite Sea Girls Instagram page.