Naturism and its Positive Effects on Mental Health

When I think about why we do what we do with Skinny Dippers Club and the Global Naturist Alliance, it actually has little to do with being a nudist and everything to do with community. Naturism, for me, is where environmentalism, social nudism, and feminism collide.
Mandy Zelinka
Skinny Dippers Club

How did you get started in Social Nudism?

I’m a lifelong entrepreneur. Ask me a question, and I’ll likely break the answer down to marketing. I’m a total nerd that loves market research and business strategy as much as I love a perfect red lip.

But here’s the thing. Entrepreneurship can be hella lonely.

A few years back, I worked so hard on my business that I kept pushing the need to write a speech for Alt Summit back. The further I pushed back writing the speech, the more my anxiety rose. I was a wreck.

Alt Summit is a big deal for a creative entrepreneur. It’s held in Palm Springs every year, and it brings out the most creative of the creatives. The 20% of the 20%. The top 4% of the creatives of entrepreneurship. It’s like a gathering of Weiden & Kennedy wanna-be’s. It’s an important event.

And I had two weeks to deliver a speech that I had yet to write. I felt like a failure.

When Jeremy told me not to worry about the speech and instead head to a boutique clothing-optional hotel in Palm Springs, I didn’t blink an eye. I wasn’t a nudist, but I also wasn’t even close to producing a speech. I was just too burnt out on life to do anything but say, “Sure. I can still wear my bikini, right?”

I would gladly take the offer of a real vacation, but I wasn’t about to give in to that whole *running around naked* thing.

I was mostly pissed at myself because Alt Summit was founded by @DesignMom, an absolute badass on Twitter. I wouldn’t say I liked feeling like I let her down. It sucked because I really admire her.

But I also knew in my heart that this was the right decision. I already felt like this was going to be a life-changing vacation, and it was.

The mental health benefits combined with body positivity are the number one reason I think more people should get into running around naked outside (or inside!) It was the no. 1 reason my husband was finally able to survive his PTSD demons. It’s nearly alleviated my need for drugs to combat ADHD and anxiety. And I’ve always been pretty body-positive, but I must tell you that being socially naked takes it to a whole new level of comfort.

And for both of us, the reason this works so well is the community. Having been a status quo disruptor my whole life, I get bored by ordinary people. And Jeremy has been able to find like-minded folks like never before.

Naturism, as well as our Skinny Dippers Club, is phenomenal for anyone needing a mental health break, whether that’s the ability to step outside naked or simply having a community of people to hang out pantsless with at your fingertips. 

Running around naked makes hanging out with friends a lot more fun. When you can drop the pretenses as fast as you drop your drawers you’re headed for fun faster.

In life, you can either laugh, or you can cry.

I prefer to have fun. 

Thank you for being here.

 

From one of my former students:

“You won’t be disappointed. Mandy is the cool kid and the “nerd” wrapped in one. She’s brilliant, witty and trips out on metrics to move the needle forward in business. The best part is that she understands marketing and people and that’s vital if you want to grow.”

Thank you for being here.

Jeremy and I did a podcast a few weeks back, and it’s all about how naturism (how you experience being naked in nature) has helped him with his survival of PTSD. This prompted me to talk to my other internet friend named Tracy, who is super famous for her ADHD for Badass Women podcast. (I feel honored to have had her gone through my branding class because, OMG, what a fantastic name for a podcast, right?) 

But it also made me realize; finally, some of the extraordinary effects naturism has had on me. I say “finally” because some things had to change around the nude park before I could truly enjoy what it means to live here. Our Trump-supporting neighbors finally bounced, which decreased my anxiety to an almost non-existent level. 

As I started feeling safe around my neighborhood again (we are on 40 acres total, but the space that all of the people live on is around five, so it feels like two neighborhood blocks) it has started to feel like a neighborhood. The one where the old dude across the way comes out of his house to say hi every time he sees you on your daily walk. The one where you always run into the neighbor with the cute dogs, and you know the dog’s names by heart but can’t for the life of you remember his name.

The one where there’s a ton of elderly neighbors interspersed, and they all keep dying, but you can’t be mad because they were so old and senile that they almost burned the neighborhood down on more than one occasion?

Things finally feel normal around here, and by “normal,” I mean there’s folks that keep to themselves, a few people around the corner that you tend to stay away from, and few people that you just genuinely enjoy.

In that comfortable seeming space I feel free to walk around my neighborhood again. As a child, my mother never let me go anywhere, so I could only ride my bike in a two-block radius. It wasn’t unless I was home alone with my dad that I could freely bike as far as my legs could take me. “Just don’t tell mom” was our promise to each other, and it still stands to this day. My personal freedom has always been important to me because I didn’t get a lot of it as a kid. My mom helicoptered the shit out of me.

I can’t tell you the profound life-changing effects of being able to step outside your door to exercise is. To have access to fresh mountain air and fresh mountain spring water. And the lack of need to put on a whole f*cking outfit to do so.

In Jeremy’s PTSD episode, he talked about his uniform for work. His morning routine, which was once a drain on all of his mental energy for the day, doesn’t use up any space anymore because it’s already been decided for him. 

Putting on work out clothes is a pain in the ass. You have to put on these tight ass legging things, and then when you go to peel them off and you can’t because they now have become glued to your legs. WHYYY. Stepping outside of my house in a sports bra and knee-length puffer jacket IS WHERE IT’S AT. I rarely miss a work-out anymore because it’s easy. I hadn’t realized this until Jeremy and I did our podcast on the mentally draining activity of getting dressed. I’ve always loved to get dressed because I love clothes. (Yes, I’m a nudist who also loves to wear clothes. It’s how I express myself.) 

But every time we do a podcast, I learn something new. And after this one, I finally realized what the profound effects naturism has had on me.

I love to work-out, but the process of putting on clothes to do so had been draining all of my energy. When my Trump-supporting neighbors lived next door, I felt like I needed to cover up all the time because of some of their family values, which is the complete opposite of what naturism is. I finally realized I was safe in my neighborhood again, so I felt comfortable going for hour-long walks, half-dressed.

I work on Skinny Dippers stuff A LOT. And I love it so much I don’t want to stop, so fitting a work-out in, which is vital to me staying healthy and managing my ADHD without drugs, is hard. Making working out easy by being able to step out of my workspace and not have to think about what to wear has helped in the recovery of my back pain and my need to manage my ADHD without drugs. 

Being in nature decreases your anxiety by default. We learned in one of our podcasts that staring into a mountain relaxes your eyes and mind. When we put a soaking tub outside and at night started soaking in it and watched the sunset instead of being on our devices, my anxiety dropped even lower. 

I haven’t had to take drugs for three weeks to get through my day. I haven’t had to turn on music to lift my energy level. My body finally has enough dopamine to run on so that my brain can function on its own. (Picture putting Arco gas in a Jaguar vs. rocket fuel.) I can’t tell you what that means to me. I’ve had to get high almost the entire time I’ve lived in Seattle to get through my days. I’ve lived here for four years now. That’s a lot of edibles.

Unfortunately, it’s also a lot of munchies. 😂

It has alleviated so much anxiety that I was finally able to sit down and read a book. I’ve been trying to read a book for months, and I haven’t been able to. I’ve just been addicted to the endless scroll and social media dopamine hits because I couldn’t get any on my own. And that’s just bad because that only causes more anxiety. I know it’s incredibly white privileged to bitch about not being able to go on vacations, but it’s a health concern for me. My vitamin D levels are dangerously low. I NEED sun, or my brain doesn’t function. And I can only recalibrate my brain when I can calm down enough to read a book, which is why summer is so important to me living in the PNW. I will read like ten books in six weeks because my anxiety is non-existent, and I am calm enough to sit long enough to read. I don’t need those artificial dopamine hits because they are naturally occurring on their own. My cholesterol levels go down (which is essential as we age) because there’s enough Vitamin D in my system to convert it.

The positive health effects it has had on me are endless. Nevermind the body positivity. That alone was worth the price of admission.

Submerging myself in this way of recreation and life has been fascinating. It’s taken twists and turns that were completely unexpected. But I think the most profound has been the people we’ve met along the way. 

In our PTSD podcast, Jeremy started crying at the end because of how much naturism, as well as our Skinny Dipper Community, has meant to him. I’m sitting here crying too. I think naturism, and our community, has saved us both.

Thank you for being here.

The Flag You Fly

"If you have an opportunity to use your voice you should use it."

Samuel L. Jackson

Jeremy and I get asked a lot if we are bisexual because of our use of the Rainbow Flag.

Last summer, I got evicted from my family’s property partly since we put it up on their Flag Pole. I was told to take down the ‘fruit flag.’ (I then disowned that side of the family for obvious reasons.)

When I first started building this community, I decided to use Instagram as the primary way to find you guys. I did this for a few reasons. Firstly, I used to teach Instagram courses, so I understand how powerful it can be. Secondly, it has a way of pre-qualifying people that Twitter can’t do. (You see people – their photos, their videos – and you get a much better picture -sorry for the pun – of what kind of nudist they are.)

But the problem with having an open Instagram account is that as a woman, it’s an open invitation for people to abuse the space and send you unwanted DM’s of people’s parts. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll also get abused with words. I finally couldn’t take it, so I shut it down.

I told Jeremy, “If this is what being a nudist is, then I don’t want any part of it.”

I took a few weeks and re-strategized.

I grew up with Prince, Viva Glam, and an obsession with Madonna’s Truth or Dare. I’m no prude, but dude – running around naked isn’t an invitation for abuse. I re-opened our Instagram account around the time of PRIDE and thought, “I need a bold symbol to tell people who we are from the get-go.” I kept the account closed and only allowed those in that I had already pre-qualified from our previous account. This strategy worked well.

We love everybody – as long as you aren’t an asshole.

I’m proud to use a symbol that means equal rights for everybody. And if you have privilege, you should use it for good.

Otherwise, you’re just an asshole. And the world has enough of those already.

DIY Soaking Tub

Over the summer when I was working on my parents 40 acres alone with Scout and Magic (my cousin’s horses) Jeremy hooked me up with this sweet soaking tub set-up since the property lacked shower facilities. (I used the outdoor hose for showers and dishes.) 

We thought you might want the deets for the set-up. It was so good we brought it home to recreate it. Enjoy!

 

Parts List using Ferg’s options: (local tax not included)

Stock Tank    $175

Heater           $129

Batteries           $8

Propane tank    $0

Pump               $25

Hose/fittings   $20

             Total $357

The Soaking Tub: ($175 our option)

We went with a 6” stock tank from Tractor Supply for $175. Unfortunately, it’s an in store pickup. This works perfectly for two people because you can both stretch out your legs and soak all the way up to your collarbone.

You can go with a bigger stock tank or even use an old claw foot tub.

The heater: ($129 our option) – don’t forget D cell batteries! ($7.99)

We used a Tankless Water Heater, specifically a Gasland Outdoor water heater. This one provides continuous hot water right from the source, and with the addition of a recirculating pump, you can reheat the water to really get it warm without wasting a bunch of propane. This unit runs at 1.58 gallons per minute. So consider the time it takes to fill an empty tub. Ours was about 100 gallons, so it took about an hour to fill, then it took a little bit to recirculate the water to bring it up to temperature.

Propane options: (we used a tank from our BBQ) We pay about $2.59/gallon for propane

This may be considered cheating a little, but I figured I didn’t need to have a dedicated propane tank just for this use, so I used one we had for our BBQ and fire ring. We actually have several because we cook and campfire ring so frequently.

Recirculating Pump: ($25 our option)

In full transparency, the first pump I ordered I didn’t like. I was an external transfer pump and it is really loud. So, we just ordered a submersible pump. The water will deaden the noise number one, and number two, it makes the setup really portable for any impromptu soaking tub arrangement. We’ve ordered a Hygger quiet aquarium pump.

Hose and fittings: ($20 our option)

Your setup may be different, but I needed a short section of hose and a couple of garden hose ends to make it all work. They’re easy. Pocket knife and screwdriver easy to install.