As shocking as it sounds to lay in a bath of ice, it may just be the shock you need.
Ice baths, also referred to as cold water immersion involve sitting in freezing water for 10 to 15 minutes... or as long as you can handle!
Doesn't sound like your kind of thing?
The Happiness Hunter founder, Fiona Redding had her first ice bath experience recently. After sustaining a minor running injury, she heard from another mother at school that ice baths were meant to be very healing. She explained that Jurgen, her husband, had recently undertaken a training course with Wim Hof and started a new cold water therapy business based in Black Rock; setting up a sauna, a pool and had converted their garage into an ice bath studio where Jurgen teaches people breathing techniques to help them get the most out of the experience.
The hot and cold concept of moving from the sauna to the pool and then into the ice bath for as long as you can handle, is all about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and working on mental control. Fiona has taken this idea into her morning showers, turning the water onto cold right at the end to slowly build up a tolerance.
“I was already feeling really good about myself and the day before I got in (I've got a great morning routine anyway, with meditation and exercise already built in), but the cold shower is stepping it up another notch and I am feeling unbelievably awesome. I won't quite say invincible, but certainly stronger than before and that feeling is carrying me through the day.”
This practice isn’t just something people have started to do in their garages.
Cold Water Therapy has been known for its healing benefits and has been practiced around the world for a long time. Like many of these ancient things though, it is now gaining popularity here in the west as the hottest new trend.
Why would you do that to yourself, you may ask?
Cold water therapy is a positive stressor and has been proven to speed up the healing of sporting injuries, manage chronic pain, assist in weight loss, reduce depression and improve overall health and well being. When practiced regularly, cold water immersion can support your bodies immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems.
Ice baths have been proven to reduce inflammation and allow fluids to flow through your body. If your whole body is immersed in cold water, your blood vessels tighten and when you get out of the cold, they open back up. This process can help pump the heart more efficiently and the increased blood flow floods your cells with nutrients and oxygen.
Cold water can help you deal with difficult mental challenges
As you can imagine it’s very cold and can be even painful to hold your body under icy cold water. One way to help yourself stay strong, is to focus on your breath, and to build a tolerance to the painful situation.
If we apply this concept to uncomfortable feelings and mental states that arise for us in our lives, we can learn to focus back on the breath and believe that we can handle it. Tuning into the breath helps to bring you back to the present moment experience, and not straight into a reaction.
Practicing being outside of our comfort zone, and doing hard things, makes it easier for us to continue to step outside of our comfort zone and do other hard things.
Cold water can even help spike happiness
A 2007 research study found cold water immersion can actually boost your mood and help treat symptoms of depression, especially when practiced daily. This works by triggering a bunch of happy hormones to flood into the brain. Have you ever dived into a body of water and let it wash off all that you no longer need? It is invigorating, and diving into icy water is even better.
The best part of cold water immersion is this is accessible for all of us. We all have a shower at home! And if you live near a lake, or an ocean, upping the experiences and jumping into the cold water in winter will also do the job. Now there’s a way to wake up in the morning!