7 Benefits of a Cold Shower( #7 shocked me)

Years ago, I began to hear how cold plunges and cold shower were healthy. That sent shockwaves through my system, and I vacillated between total denial and the compelling desire to prove that theory wrong …. surely subjecting yourself to freezing cold water, by choice, was a terrible idea.

You see, when I was young…okay, okay, I admit,  even now as a grown adult, I would stand by the side of the ocean, lake, pool or anywhere there was cold water and wait until everyone was about to get out. Then I would jump in and immediately jump out again…just so I could say I did it but I wouldn’t have to spend any time in the .

I know it’s kind of wimpy, but I’ve been just fine with that. However, recently I've had several teachers, friends, and even strangers, yes, a woman on the subway  tell me about the incredible value of cold showers and how I "had" to do it. Ugh…..it was clearly a sign.

So I begrudgingly tried to understand and dare I say experiment with this practice. And what I experienced really surprised me.

First of all, it has been historically steeped in different cultures including my Scandinavian ancestors who have long believed a cold dip would  kick start blood flow and increase endorphins. That explains why my Norwegian mother always comes out of cold pools smiling and happily announcing how “invigorating” it was.

It also has many other powerful benefits:

  • Reduces Depression And Makes You Feel Happier. There are some studies that suggest the shock of cold water on your skin sends an alert signal to your brain. This triggers the release of all the feel good “happy hormones” like dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.
  • Boosts Your Metabolism And Helps With Weight Loss.  There is also some evidence that cold water immersion can improve your metabolism. In a recent study, they found that participants who dunked in 57 degree water daily increased metabolism by as much as 350%, Also in the process of the body trying to create heat, it burns off what is referred to as “white fat” or bad fat. The two in combination have been shown to increase weight loss.
  • Reduces Anxiety.  Anxiety kicks off a fight, flight fright response in the body.  Cold water seems to activate the parasympathetic nervous system also known as “rest and digest”. This slows down the heart rate, reduces blood pressure, and lowers cortisol levels, all of which help the body to relax.
  • Boosts Your Immune System.  Did you ever hear, “Put on your coat or you will get sick”. Well it turns out that advice may not be accurate. In fact, a large study in the Netherlands found that people who took regular cold showers called in sick 29% less.  Scientists believe this is a result of increased circulation and immune cell production.
  • Combats Inflammation And Improves Muscle Recovery.  Athletes have sworn by the use of cold ice packs or ice baths for decades. The cold restricts the blood vessels and decreases inflammation. When the body tries to heat up again, there is a flood of fresh blood to the cold areas. This increased circulation can also promote healing.
  • Great Skin.  Heat and hot water can remove the natural oils in your skin and make it appear dry, red and more wrinkled. The cold water constricts the blood vessels, tightens pores, improves firmness, reduces red or dry patches and increases the skin’s ability to repair.
  • Improves Resilience And Willpower.  There is a biological principle called hormesis. Essentially it says that some amount of stress or pain is good for the body. That can include things like cold showers, intermittent fasting and exercise.  

This increased “stress”,  causes the release of  hormones and neurotransmitters to compensate or   adapt. This leads to improved “physiological and mental resilience”. Cold therapy is often used to help   people overcome addictions using this principle. As people learn to cope with the discomfort of the cold,   they also learn to withstand the challenges of withdrawal. So if you are wanting to “toughen up” or increase your willpower, cold showers are a very inexpensive and natural way to support your journey!

As for my little experiment, I started with a 2 minute cold shower daily (They recommend the water is above 57 degrees…mine was about 67 degrees)
I’d like to say I LOVE it, but I don't... yet. :-) I do notice a definite improvement in focus and energy.
AND the biggest surprise has been the powerful shift in perspective. Whenever I hit up against something difficult, I find myself thinking…this is tough, but it’s way better than that cold shower. Then instead of procrastinating and belaboring the action, I just do it.
That simple (though dreaded) daily ritual  has truly seeded and reinforced the belief  that  if I can willingly stand in freezing cold water than I can willingly do anything I put my mind to.

And THAT is worth a cold shower

So if you are wanting  a more natural strategy to help manage anxiety or depression, kickstart your weight loss, increase your energy or change your belief in what's possible for YOU.  I say go for it. 
Turn on that cold water, jump in and come out ready to SHINE!!!


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