Cold Water Immersion for Mental Boosts
Over the years, research has been revealing more about the benefits of exposure to the cold. One of the primary methods of cold exposure that's been proven time and again to improve health is cold water immersion, also called CWI. From better cardiovascular health to improved mental states, researchers have seen cold water immersion work wonders for study participants.
If you want to benefit from cold water immersion as well, it’s key to understand that it requires far colder water than what your shower can produce. Water temperatures between 39º and 55º Fahrenheit are ideal for getting the most from CWI, which can feel downright shocking at first. Let’s dive deeper into this promising therapy and how it could provide the mental boost you’ve been looking for.
Understanding the Fight-or-Flight Response
When your body is exposed to certain stimuli such as a stressful or traumatic situation, a fight or flight response kicks in. This response produces a flood of stimulating endorphins that turn up your heart rate, increase your awareness, and speeds up reaction times. The adrenaline rush caused by these types of situations can feel intense, for sure.
One key to how this works is the vagus nerve, which connects the brain with the vital organs and body. This nerve is thought to play a role in mental health and stress-related conditions, and crucially, it turns off the fight or flight response.
Research has shown exposure to cold water activates the vagus nerve, slowing breathing and heart rates, and switching the body to a state of rest and digestion. Developing your ability to calmly maintain control during stressful times using cold water immersion can curb the negative health effects caused by chronic stress, such as anxiety and depression disorders.
Benefits of Ice Baths for Mental States
If you need a boost to your mental state, there’s promising proof that cold water immersion can make it possible. Numerous health benefits linked to CWI are emerging with more research, including mental health. How might you benefit from cold water immersion?
Inflammation can be a result of excessive training or disorders like arthritis, causing painful joints and muscle aches. Cold water immersion helps reduce inflammation, lowering pain levels and easing the mental burden of enduring constant pain.
Another benefit of cold water immersion therapy is increasing your ability to cope with sensory input. When you first get into icy waters, your body tries to react instantly. By training your body to better handle shocking sensory input through cold water immersion, you’ll be able to better cope with other types of sensory input as well. All this translates to more control over your mental state, no matter the circumstances.
When you train your body how to respond to perceived threats, it’s far easier to be resilient when you’re facing stressful situations. Cold water immersion builds your stress resilience by teaching your mind how to handle stress in a more constructive way. By working on breathing techniques and mindfulness while taking a cold plunge, you develop the same capabilities for when you encounter stressful moments in your life outside of the cold water.
What to Know Before Trying Cold Water Therapy
It’s important to remember that while there is a broad array of health benefits associated with cold water immersion, safety precautions still must be adhered to. What should you focus on to remain safe while practicing cold water immersion therapy?
Set the Coldness Accordingly
Cold water immersion is more than just dumping a bunch of ice into a bathtub and hopping in. It’s essential to your safety to properly set the temperature of the water to prevent hypothermia and ensure the most benefit to your health. Set the temperature of the water to between 39º and 55º Fahrenheit for a safe, effective cold water immersion session.
Do It Consistently for 30 Days
As with most health regimens, consistency is key to getting the most from your efforts. Time after time, the research on cold water immersion benefits has found that consistent, long-term practice is what produces the best results. One trick to developing this healthy habit is to commit to 30 days of sessions. By setting a well-defined goal like this, you’ll find it much easier to push through the initial acclimation phase of cold water immersion therapy.
Mental and Physical Preparation
Another key element of effective cold water immersion is preparing yourself mentally and physically. One good way to do this is by working on your breathing technique while taking cold showers. Learn to control your breath, and you learn to control your mind, making it easier to take the polar plunge into a full-on cold water immersion tank.
Should You Get a Cold Water Plunge?
If you’re convinced that cold water immersion is right for you, buying a cold plunge tub for home is probably a top priority. But is a cold water plunge tub the best option for you? It’s important to do your research to understand just what cold immersion entails. If you plan on practicing CWI regularly and have already been taking cold showers to understand how your body reacts, there’s a good chance you’re ready for the real deal.
RENU Therapy makes cold plunge tubs that make at-home CWI simple and safe. Rather than fussing with bags of ice to fill a bathtub, RENU cold water immersion tubs are always ready with water set to your ideal temperature. There’s also a filtration system to keep the water perfectly clean and ready at all times.Cold water immersion can play one of the most important roles when it comes to at-home health regimens, both for physical and mental health. The ability to better control anxiety and stress are invaluable, so it’s crucial to have tools like cold water immersion therapy in your arsenal for developing this ability. Explore all the ways you can benefit from RENU’s therapeutic solutions for the mind and body today.