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The Physical and Mental Benefits of Cold Water Immersion
By WH Staff | Oct 8, 2021
By Aisling Quigley, founder of The Sunrise Collective, mindfulness & meditation facilitator
With the latest health trend seeing everyone from celebrities and athletes to wellbeing advocates either dunking themselves into the sea pre-7am come rain, hail, or shine, or swearing to anyone who’ll listen about the game-changing effects of cold showers, it seems many are catching on to a long tried and tested wellbeing hack and learning first-hand the benefits of cold water immersion.
It’s not just the physical benefits to be gained – but also the potential to drown out your inner saboteur.
Once known as something only endured by top athletes post-performance, cold water dunks have well and truly entered the mainstream, with communities formed, viral sand-filled videos spread all over the internet, and more lockdown dunks than you can shake a stick at.
Boasted by civilizations through the centuries as “the cold water cure”, cold water immersion is not new news. In fact, its ability to help flush out toxins, boost immune and circulation systems as well as power in helping to reduce inflammation is well documented. What’s not so well known, however, are the benefits it can have on the mind.
Believe it or not, time in cold water can be incredibly helpful in stimulating dopamine (our happy hormone) which helps us to feel more energetic and active, especially post-dunk or post-shower, offering similar effects to an exercise high. Not to mention the time spent in nature and facilitating connection with other human beings. Let those good vibes roll!
It can also be a pretty powerful way to increase our resilience levels – shaking up comfort zones and testing ourselves, getting out of our heads and our own way to prove we are up for a challenge. This can have a significant roll-on effect in all other areas of your life too. If you survive a 3-minute cold shower or sea dunk first thing in the morning, imagine what else you could accomplish with that feeling of empowerment! We are often our own worst enemies when that inner voice pipes up, so by choosing to face the fear and do it anyway, we can drastically shift perspective and silence that inner saboteur for good.
So, the next time you are feeling a little stagnant, or that voice in your head is feeling loud maybe it’s worth trying something a little different, and whether done solo or with a friend giving a dip in the ocean, lake, or cold shower at home a go.
Keen to dip your toe in but not sure how to get started? Here’s what you can do…
The good news with all of this, you don’t need to jump straight into an ice-bath to benefit from all the good cold water can offer.
Here are a few things you can do to begin your own cold water journey:
Start at home. Slowly decrease the heat of your showers and ease yourself into colder showers. Start at a temperature that feels sustainable and take a few deep breaths. Do that for a few days and gradually start to decrease the temperature and increase your time. You might be surprised by how quickly you adapt!
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
It’s not easy or fun when you start, but that’s the point. Challenge yourself to try something new and exercise the boundaries of your comfort zones. You’re a lot stronger than you may think. The benefits are well worth it.
Make it part of your routine & find support through others
Make it part of your every day routine whether with a cold shower or joining a sea swimming community if you feel you need a little more support. Tell someone what you’re doing to keep accountable or set yourself a 7, 14 day or month-long challenge to build that habit.
An incredible benefit I have found through my own journey has been the element of community. The bond that is formed from dunking yourself into the chilly sea at 6am has been nothing like I have ever known. Friendships have formed, support offered and many laughs had along the way. And if you’re afraid to go alone, that’s all the more reason to go! Open, welcoming, and incredible communities are waiting, they are only a dunk away.
About Aisling Quigley
Entrepreneur, mindfulness and meditation facilitator Aisling Quigley is on a mission is to positively impact the mental health of 1 million people over the next 10 years, through her corporate workshops, retreats, online meditation courses and community initiative, The Sunrise Collective.Working with world-leading brands like Kmart, Bunnings & Cystic Fibrosis Australia, Aisling shares evidence-based tools, practices, and concepts to help people find connection and community and transform their lives and wellbeing in meaningful, tangible ways.
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