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Aquatic Stress Relief – Therapy only Scuba Diving can deliver

DiverWire.com’s newest contributor Stacy Amberson has more than a few dives under her belt. The Sacamento, California resident has found diving to be “therapy” for a high-stress job with the State of California. Read one of her “scuba journals”…….




The sun suddenly feels hot against the back of my head as the boat slows and stops.  I slip my fin straps up over my heels and my hands run an automatic inventory over all my gear, taking a quick hit from my primary, then spare before I tuck it away.  Perch on the edge of the boat, position my mask, regulator in my mouth, receive the signal and roll backwards into the blue.  

No confusion or adjustment necessary, I gently clear my ears while sinking steadily downward through the crystal clear water.  A deep sense of peace and contentment wash over me, feels like coming home.  All my muscles relax, tensions that are so frequently present they seem normal, just disappear.  My heart rate slows and my breathing along with it.   I move languorously, relishing the caress of the sea against my skin, being at one with my environment.  Desire, breath and minute movements guide my progress along the reef.

Scuba diving author Stacy AmbersonI feel intense affection for every creature I encounter.  I shamelessly anthropomorphize each as they approach me or allow my advance, often to within inches.  A harmless mental conceit, imagining they sense my good intentions and respond in kind with fishy interest.  I taste saltiness as a huge unconscious smile allows a few drops in around the edges of my mouthpiece. Pure bliss.

“The nurse says your blood pressure is pretty high today, what’s going on with you?”  

Reality comes crashing back; I’m sitting on the exam table in my doctor’s office.

“I just rushed here from a crazy day at work through heavy traffic, maybe that’s it.”

I was there for my annual check-up. Feeling fine, no problems and not worried about anything until that comment about high blood pressure.  That was a problem for other people; unhealthy, inactive or highly stressed people… Right?

My job is very high stress, but I love it.  I work for what used to be the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the Office of Homeland Security, now combined to be California Emergency Management Agency.  I’ve been with the agency for over 15 years and though it becomes more political, demanding and stressful each year, I truly enjoy what I do and like the people I work with.  

The doctor is concerned about the high blood pressure so wants to check it again himself.  It’s normal.  I tell him in great detail about my ‘happy place’ scuba daydream.  That is physical reality for me each time I dive and psychological imagery when stress and tension become too much during my everyday life.  We both conclude that thinking or talking about diving is obviously a great stress reducer for me.
It’s true that Scuba Diving has become one of the central pleasures in my life.  When I’m not actively in the water I’m reading about it, writing about it, or researching the next place I will travel in order to do it.  It really is an excellent form of relaxation, and wipes out months of stress in only one dive.

Using all my considerable persuasiveness I tried to convince my doctor to officially prescribe dive trips as a “medical necessity”.   Although he genuinely believes they are, as do I, a written prescription wasn’t a possibility.

I feel genuine appreciation each and every time I’m underwater, that I have discovered and am able to participate in this wonderful activity.  Add to that the fact that it’s apparently essential to my continued health, and I know I’ll be diving for years to come.

Read more of Stacy’s adventures in the future on DiverWire.com.

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