Feeling a bit rubbish in lockdown?
Getting naked could be the solution.
That’s according to retail worker Chris Hood, 43, and his photographer fiancée Ginny Jones, 41, a couple who say stripping off in the forest has massively helped tackle their stress.
Covid-19 stress hit hard for Chris – who lives with Ginny, her son Ruben, six, and their daughter Violet, two – this summer when restrictions eased off and more people began buying from the shop where he worked.
Increasingly nervous in the crowded environment, he began to experience mood swings and panic attacks.
He stumbled upon a fix: spending a day off in November getting naked in a forest and jumping in a puddle of mud.
Chris, of Grimsby, north east Lincolnshire, said: ‘It was really sloppy, muddy, wet and horrible.
‘But immediately, I just took my shoes and socks off and was slopping in the mud with my bare feet.
‘The feeling of getting mud between my toes was just escapism and a complete relief.’
Ginny, who, with Chris, has just launched a new business, Ginny’s Photography, snapped photos of her partner’s unusual form of therapy.
The couple have found that heading on naturist weekends – where they can be totally free from clothing – help them feel alive, so nipping to the local woods for a quick strip-off seemed like a great Covid-safe version.
Chris said: ‘We were feeling cooped up and our heads were in a mess.
‘We just needed to go out and do something different.
‘It was a freezing cold morning, but the sun was shining, so we got in the car to go for a drive.
‘We found some really nice woods and it was a spur of the moment thing, realising I could pose naked in the mud.’
‘I just threw everything off, ran and jumped.
‘It was total freedom and a huge adrenaline rush. I was not thinking about anything else.
‘Usually, at this point, there were so many things whizzing though our heads. But for that moment, we were in the woods having a laugh, just the two of us.
‘It was about completely getting away from everything and clearing our heads.’
Ginny stayed clothed the first time around, as it was a bit chilly to be snapping photos in the nude, but loved seeing how happy Chris was.
She said: ‘It was freezing cold and I wasn’t feeling as brave as he was.
‘It was so nice to see him enjoying himself again, after he’d had a couple of panic attacks.
‘It was amazing to see him let go of everything – he’d just gone back to being a kid and enjoying himself.’
Chris has long found naturism beneficial for his mental wellbeing.
He first discovered the joys of getting naked on family holidays as a teenager in the Canary Islands, Spain.
‘I’d always been on the small side and was bullied at school, which gave me a sense of not being good enough,’ he said.
‘Naturism gave me confidence, as once you’ve got your clothes off there’s no status, there’s no difference.
‘Everyone is the same and it’s very equalising.’
Getting together with Ginny, in 2016, who he had known since the two were teenagers at college together, Chris told her he was interested in naturism.
Ginny was sceptical at first, but when she booked a couple’s night at a naturism event at a spa, she ended up loving the experience.
After that, naturism became a shared interest and they found naked beaches on holiday, as well as taking part in nude swims in the UK.
Ginny, who went up from a size 18 to a size 20 during the first lockdown, says the naturist community has taught her to accept her body.
She said: ‘I always had issues at school, as I was bigger and was bullied for my size.
‘But once you take your clothes off everybody’s the same.
‘We’ve all got the same bits and pieces. We’re just different sizes and shapes.
‘Nobody’s staring, nobody’s pointing and nobody’s laughing – everyone’s just equal.’
Since lockdown, Ginny has found confidence through burlesque, and has completed her own naked photoshoot.
She is now promoting a ‘positive portraits’ package to help other people embrace their bodies.
‘We both love naturism, it’s not sexual, it’s just liberating,’ Ginny adds.
‘And Chris’ naked shoot in the mud was a fabulous tonic at a very difficult time.’
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