Your first thought when you think about the benefits of Ice baths may be to do with the physical side, but have you heard about the benefits for your mental health?
Do you struggle with anxiety or depression? Or maybe you’re feeling stressed and going through a turbulent time in your life.
Cold water therapy helps to alleviate emotional stress by decreasing your stress hormone cortisol and releasing feel good hormones and chemicals – taking you out of fight or flight mode and reseting your thought patterns. Studies have shown that those who partake in cold water therapy like ice baths or cold water showers had significant improvements in their symptoms.
So how does Cold Therapy work?
Well, the initial “shock” of when you expose your body to cold water initiates your body’s response to stress. This is where the Vagus Nerve (the nerve that runs from the back of your brain to all of your organs) is activated and turns off the “fight or flight” response that your body can be in when experiencing stressful situations or emotions, and rather move into a “rest and digest” state.
Being able to get your body to turn off this fight or flight response is so influential with your mental health as prolonged stress can result in changes in your brain – which are often present in cases of anxiety and depression.
Cold water immersion also helps to reduce inflammation. Yes this can be great to reduce your post workout inflammation, but did you know that inflammation is also linked to causing or contributing to depression and anxiety?
Immersing your body in cold bodies of water will set off all of the cold nerve receptors on the surface of your skin. When this happens the brain receives a high influx of sensory information and the overload can act as a temporary pause to the neurological processes that can take part in your anxiety and depression.
Building Stress Resilience:
Luckily cold water plunging is a temporary stress to the body, but in this short time it does put the body into its survival mode. When the survival mode is activated for a short period of time, our response to stress is actually better off for it as it build up our bodies resilience to handling stress. It’s like a little stress response workout.
Regulates your hormones:
Regulating your hormones is so important as they can be a main driver in causing not only anxiety and depression but also other health issues. Specifically cold water therapy helps to significantly decrease the levels of cortisol released ( your stress hormone). When your cortisol levels are high not only can you feel stressed but you can also experience symptoms like muscle weakness, skin changes, high blood pressure and even cause inflammation in your digestive system, throwing off your gut health.
Not only does cold water therapy regulate your hormones by lowering your cortisol levels, but it also helps to boost your good hormones like endorphins, which help to relieve pain, reduce stress and improve your overall sense of wellbeing. Chemicals like norepinephrine are also released which help to regulate your mood, improve alertness.
Cold water regulates your hormones by:
Reducing cortisol – the stress hormone
Increasing endorphins – natural painkiller
Increasing norepinephrine – regulates emotional and boosts focus
- Increasing testosterone – promotes energy, muscle development and bone growth.
Want to try Cold Water Therapy for yourself? Try the challenge of taking the plunge 2-4 times a week in our Ice Spas at Central for 1-5 minute sessions. We can’t wait to hear about how you feel after!!