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.

Naturist Podcast: What Does Naturism Mean to You?

There’s a ton of health benefits to running around naked in nature. The part of our brain that’s hyper-engaged in modern life deactivates a little when you’re outside.

“Until I started finding other people on Instagram talking about the tie between going to a Hot Springs or Hiking Nude, or becoming more one with nature and disconnecting enough to start the restorative process to become whole again… because sometimes when I’ve had PTSD symptoms, I don’t feel whole. So, it’s been really cool. A couple of things. One is just feeling like I’m healing myself into finding a community of other individuals who have had traumatic experiences and connecting with them and finding ways that we can celebrate survivorship together.

Jeremy,

SDC

>>FOLLOW ME FOR EPISODE ONE

What am I supposed to bring? Can I stare? What do dudes do if they get a boner? (Which is like the no.1 question that gets asked.)

But more importantly – maybe you are a naturist and don’t know it! I didn’t. 

As a kid, I remember it being hot in the summer and me being mad that the boys in the neighborhood could take off their shirts but I couldn’t. And then there was my dad relentlessly telling me to put clothes on because I was always cold. (Or maybe I just felt more comfortable in various states of undress?)

Either way, when I finally got up the courage as an adult to take a Skinny Dip sans bathing suit it was one of the most freeing experiences I’ve ever had. 

When I tell people what I do for a living and how I live about 90% of the time I hear that you or your partners like to run around the house naked or without pants on. Some even have special areas in the backyard to hang out in naked.

Guess what? You just might be a nudist. 

Welcome to the club! Dive in – that water’s warm:)

>> FOLLOW ME FOR EPISODE TWO

Our podcast wasn’t supposed to be released for another month but we recorded this episode and just felt like it needed to get out in the world.

PART OF THE REASON WE ARE STARTING A NON-PROFIT IS BECAUSE we haven’t seen Equity and Social Justice in our organizations on a global level.

The goal of the Global Naturist Alliance is to set the mission vision and values of the naturist community worldwide – The idea being we have representatives of all countries coming together to set the standards of what our movement is all about.

>>FOLLOW ME FOR EPISODE THREE

“But check this out. So we walk into the place where you check in and I look to the left and I about died. It’s an entire wall of movie stars who have stayed there, including, but not limited to Matthew McConaughey and Cardi B.” 

I think the biggest take-away from this episode is that people feel more inclined to be curious and try something new if they feel safe in their environment.

In today’s podcast I take you on an edible infused trip with me to nude vacation spots in Southern California. It’s juicy AF. Join me!

>>FOLLOW ME FOR EPISODE FOUR

We just got off a two-hour conversation with Hector Martinez who is a huge naturist advocate in Mexico and was president of the Mexican Naturist Federation.

We told him how we have a stigma problem in the U S that revolves around the nudist and we talked to Hector about this. It starts with our largest organization being racist and homophobic in the States. They share porn photos in their newsletter and on their social media feed. That’s a problem.

>>FOLLOW ME FOR EPISODE FIVE

We want people to be able to enjoy this way of living and I think it gets really skewed by these places that don’t have their shit together. That’s why we’re talking about the intentional nudist community and what works and what doesn’t.

Part of why we wanted to do this podcast is because not many people get the opportunity to live this way and experience it. We have seen where nudist parks are largely volunteer-driven and have worked.

But I don’t think that that’s a sustainable business model.

>>FOLLOW ME FOR EPISODE SIX

Nude Scout: Jeremy’s Journey with PTSD

Being a Naturist is learning how to be yourself while connecting with nature.

“I’ve been discovering along the way, people that actually recognize that you can learn and grow and change and develop and that you can use the experience of running around naked to better yourself. And it’s not some creepy experience.”

>>FOLLOW ME FOR EPISODE 7

A few years back I was able to attend one of the most epic events of my life: Nudestock.

I’ve always loved the 60’s (the sex drugs and rock ‘n roll part) so when we had the opportunity to hit up our local nudist park and attend this epic event I was all in.

I stocked up on edibles on my way and laid in the grass for three days high AF listening to live bands.

We’ve talked before about the positive effects that running around naked can have on you whether it’s positive mental health, an increase in body positivity, or just simply the lack of laundry and clothing purchasing making an impact on the environment.

But I think the most profound effects that I have seen are in the community built around this practice.

Part of the wonderful side of nude vacations and events is that you get to be socially naked with your community. When everyone’s goal is the same: to have a respectful and good time; everyone wins.

>>FOLLOW ME FOR EP. 8

I have to admit, this particular podcast was hard.

I talk a lot about online triggers. It was hard to talk about because I see so many people in this space be dismissive of the online experience of others.

We need better leadership in the nudist space. I’m ready for change. Are you?

>>FOLLOW ME FOR EP. 9

Naturist Podcast Ep.  10 // LIVE! from Palm Springs: How to throw a Safe Skinny Dipper Event with Special Guest Skinny Dipper Club Member and Our Friend, Tracy

Two weeks ago Jeremy and I were in Palm Springs solidifying our hotel take-over partnership with Tuscany Manor in Palm Springs.

We chose Tuscany Manor as our hotel take-over event destination because they are welcoming to all. We are very excited to be able to provide a space for all to feel welcome at our upcoming events.

While we were there we recorded our Podcast LIVE! On How to throw Safe Skinny Dipper Events. We cover:

What does diversity and inclusion really mean?

What do people look for when wanting to know if a nude space is safe for them?

What kind of language and imagery are you using that may be triggering or off-putting?

“My whole life I’ve been watching people vote on my very existence. I’ve been reading between the lines.

Not taking a stance IS a stance. If you don’t say anything or make it explicitly clear that your space is open and available to everybody…that’s a stance.”

Tracy Griffin

Skinny Dippers Club Member

 

>>FOLLOW ME FOR EPISODE 10

Naturist Podcast Ep. 11 // How Our Diplomatic Trip to China is Shaping the Mission of the Global Naturist Alliance

In this episode, we talk about how racism and homophobia is embedded into so many institutions and the idea that it’s like baking a cake with salt instead of sugar. It just simply doesn’t work and you have to throw it out. 

We are investing our time in recruiting talent to lead the Global Naturist Alliance which will set the mission, vision, and values of the naturist community worldwide. It will have a Social Justice Arm to it that we haven’t yet seen in most organizations and associations.

We threw out the old recipe and are creating a new one. 

we will fight for

Safe Space and Events

Equity and Social Justice

The Earth and Its Inhabitants

Free and Accessible Public Lands

Online and Offline Nude Legislation and Censorship

“I want to break the walls down.

I want this organization to feel how I feel.

That sense of relief

To just be me.”

Tracy

Skinny Dippers Club Member

>>FOLLOW ME FOR EPISODE 11

We’ve had a lot of new folks in our community that are newbs and we want to help you out so you don’t get arrested!

So, how do I know if it’s legal to be nude on public lands? Well, that’s not the easiest question to answer without research.

LISTEN TO THIS IMPORTANT HALF HOUR EPISODE

One of the things I love about our community is the spirit of helping other people out. Recently we had someone ask about the laws in the state of Arkansas. With a little help from our network of Skinny Dipper friends, we quickly discovered that laws around public nudity in Arkansas are some of the most restrictive in the US. 

>>FOLLOW ME FOR EPISODE 12

A few years back, when Jeremy was a nudist and I was not, he really wanted to go to this nude place in the DR.

He literally threw $600 at me and took off as fast as he could when I told him to just go and have his spiritual awakening by himself. (I spent it all on edibles.)

Grab a beverage and enjoy this delightful audio vacation!

>> FOLLOW ME FOR EPISODE 13

Naturist Podcast ep. 14 // Nudism, Sex + Body Positivity!

We read Three Skinny Dipper Club Community Member Essays and Discuss!

We hear from a

Body Positive/Sex-positive gay man 

Jeremy identified with this essay as he first experienced nude spaces in Seattle with a group of men, most of whom identified as gay or bi.

Nudist sex-positive couple living in the post-religious stage of their life now.

Mandy really identified with their essay as Mandy was raised with a Lutheran Mother.

Queer/Poly Naturist 

Great essay on consent – this one hit Mandy and Jeremy close to home and so we wanted to close with her essay.

Enjoy!

 

>>FOLLOW ME TO EPISODE 14