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Boost Your Mood: Join the Cold-Water Craze

Cold water releases endorphins

Guest blog by Neil Geddes from the Black Dog Brotherhood

What if there was a prescription that could elevate your mood in minutes and last hours?

What if it could improve circulation, boost immunity, reduce inflammation, ease muscle pain, boost happy hormones, and improve sleep?

What if it was uncomfortable, but had zero negative side effects?*

And, best of all, what if it was FREE?

Here it is:

Step 1: Get nude! (Got your attention yet?)

Step 2: Step into your shower

Step 3: Grab the cold water tap and turn it it on full

Step 4: Stand under there for three minutes.

Welcome to Cold Water Therapy – the latest craze for boosting physical and mental well-being. This may seem like a hippy woo-woo stuff, but there is science behind it.

How Does it Work?

A 2007 study showed that regular cold-water treatment may be more beneficial than anti-depressants (Shevuck, 2007). Cold showers take advantage of our body’s tendency and ability to adapt to harsh conditions. As a result, our bodies become more resilient. Sometimes we feel fragile, but we are not. Many systems in our bodies are actual antifragile. Antifragility is a property of systems that increase their capability to thrive as a result of stressors or shocks. Cold water provides this mechanism.

Cold showers stimulate rapid responses in your body, including blood flow. When you immerse your body in cold water, the blood rushes to surround your vital organs, including your lungs (you’ll feel it!). Your heart then is forced to pump more efficiently, pushing blood through your vessels (and supplying more body parts with the oxygen and nutrients they need). This in turn releases endorphins. Doing this on a routine basis improves lymphatic circulation (clearing waste faster from your system) and reduces muscle inflammation and pain (by constricting blood vessels and nerve endings).

*Do not take cold showers if you have a chest infection, bronchitis, or a cardiovascular condition that could be worsened by sudden changes to your heart or lung function.

A Warrior Mindset

It takes courage. And self-discipline. It’s only cold water, right? Cold water absolutely cannot hurt you (until you hit the full ice-bath stage, but that’s for more advanced practice). But nobody likes getting into cold water, right?

So, here’s the trick: It’s all about the breath. Control your breath, control your life! Don’t hold your breath or quicken it. Rather, take loooong, slow deep breaths as the cold hits your skin.

Getting Started with Cold Water Therapy

Absolute beginner:

  1. Contrast showers: Toggle between a warm shower and cold shower, moving the dial to as cold as you can stand it for 15-30 seconds.  Work to where you only need 30 seconds to one minute of warm before going back to cold. BREATHE!
  2. Ending showers cold: At the end of your warm shower turn the dial to as cold as you can stand for 30 seconds progressing to where you can end your shower for 1-2 minutes cold. BREATHE!
  3. Place a single ice cube on the top of your spine/neck area and let it melt. BREATHE!
  4. Or place cold packs on the back of your neck/spine or over your chest.  Place a thin layer of material between your skin and ice pack to avoid ice burn. BREATHE!

Intermediate:

  1. Full body immersion: Fill your tub with water as cold as it will get it and do a full body submersion or jump in a pool.  Start off no longer than two minutes then gradually increase.  Hands out of water will be easier to start but progress to where you are fully submerged to your neck. BREATHE!
  2. Start with the shower water cold for 15-30 seconds until you progress up to two minutes before going into a warm shower (always end cold for at least 30 seconds). BREATHE!
  3. Cold shower only for 5 minutes.  No warm water. BREATHE!
  4. Fill a bowl with ice and water.  Put each hand in for two minutes each, then both hands.  Repeat with feet. BREATHE!

Advanced (ice-bath):

  1. Full body immersion in ice water:  Go up to neck and put hands in water.  No longer than two minutes to begin. Progress to longer once your body acclimates. BREATHE!
  2. Multiple dips in full body ice water.  Go in for two minutes, get out and warm up for 5 minutes, go in for another two minutes.  BREATHE!
  3. Cryotherapy at a local provider.  They will set you up with advanced specifications.

Notice a common theme all the way along?

Even if you don’t progress through these stages, simply by taking or finishing with a quick cold shower after a walk, a stint at the gym, or some heavy work around the house, you can give yourself more strength and energy to live your life the way you want. Try it soon – while it’s still summer in Brisbane!

Master your breath…

Master your life….

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