Cold Water Therapy
What is it all about and how can I take the plunge?
Have you become curious in the last years of hearing and reading about the benefits from peoples experiences and science around taking a cold water plunge?
I have recently taken up the practice- and I can honestly say I am blown away by it.
A year ago, whilst living in warmer climates of Spain, I would not have dreamed of going close to the Mediterranean waters until at least mid June, the last dip being October.
I couldn’t bare the thought of this absurd idea, why would I want to shock my body in this way?
Fast forward to a year today, I haven’t just started with cold water showers, I have taken the plunge directly into the English seas- for a minimum of 5 minutes + I couldn’t feel happier with my new morning routine- In fact I am so invested in this practice, I have just purchased a dry robe to warm my body afterwards.
Here are my insights and truths behind it.
Okay, so why is it so good for you?
1. It reduces inflammation, swelling and chronic pains.
When you are immersed into cold water, your body's blood vessels (cardiovascular system) becomes constricted, reducing blood flow. This decreases the amount of swelling, pain and inflammation.
2. Heightened immune responses
Cold water naturally activates the bodies immune system and natural healing powers.
It activates the lymphatic system- a network of blood vessels running through your body- which flushes toxins/waste from the cells, detoxifying and cleansing the system.
This activation triggers the immune system- white blood cells attack and destroy unwanted bacteria in the fluid.
3. THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
Cocoholistic vision is created around regulating the nervous system, so this is personally the most interesting benefit.
Cold water stimulates the vagus nerve. This nerve controls your parasympathetic nervous system.
This nerve activates our rest and digest response, counteracting fight/flight responses- especially good if this is easily switched on and becomes stuck causing anxiety, stress and chronic pain
The nervous system ultimately governs our behaviours, responses and thoughts. It controls our gut health. When regulated with a healthy vagus nerve, it triggers relaxation, flushing cortisol levels from the body.
In term, this decreases anxiety, chronic pains, mood fluctuations, depression and deepens sleep.
So if it was so easy why is everyone not practicing?
As great as it sounds, I still cannot imagine starting. Does this sound like you?
Here are some methods I use to help me take the plunge.
When embarking on any new challenge, experience or way of life- it is absolutely essential to have a clear vision and clarity to why you are doing this, what goals you are wanting to achieve and how you can grow from this experience.
This is personal to everyone, with our own reasons and goals to why.
Preparing before hand mentally will help you set up for success + once you are approaching the plunge, it is essential to keep this mindset up to avoid nervous anticipation setting in and taking the lead.
You will be tested here, but do not give up on the power to unlock your inner potential
The breath regulates the automatic nervous system.
As breathing is an unconscious process, it requires focus to shift the breath from the chest to the belly. Breathing from the belly activates the parasympathetic nervous system- the part which allows us to rest and digest sending signals to the body we are safe.
As the mind can only process one thing properly at a time, it is important to focus on your breathing technique, which brings presence and an overall sense of calmness.
Breathing deeply on the inhale from the stomach and exhaling the breath without force before and during lets the body feel calm, inviting more energy into the cells instead of tightly constricting and activating our fight/flight response.
This overall practice builds up deeper resilience to stress and anxiety- not just from the moment- but it reflects into everyday life.