We all know the glorious feeling of stepping under a stream of icy water after an intense summer workout or jumping into a clear blue swimming pool on a hot day. While the hot weather wears us out and leaves us feeling sluggish, the icy water is invigorating. When it comes to showers, however, we don’t often think about turning the knob to cold! For this weekend’s self-care tip, we’ll discover 5 research-backed reasons to make your next shower a cold one.
- Increases Alertness
Anyone who’s ever tried taking a cold shower first thing in the morning knows this to be true! Your body snaps awake, your senses sharpen, and the rush of icy water causes your heart rate to speed up. Additionally, oxygen intake is increased, which leaves you feeling energized and alert throughout the day.
2. Opens the Capillaries
Because the water is so cold on your skin, your blood will rush to your organs to warm and protect them, increasing circulation. When this happens, the blood is flowing inward, flushing toxins out of the capillary system. It’s like a cleansing workout for your capillaries first thing in the morning!
3. Speeds Up Muscle Recovery
You’ve heard of athletes taking ice baths after an intense training session, and this is why! It’s not going to be exactly the same as taking an ice bath in a fancy facility, but the frigid water will help with circulation and clearing up lactic acid build-up. Hop in the shower after your workout to set your muscles on the path to recovery.
4. Strengthens Will Power
This one is obvious. The vast majority of us aren’t too excited about the idea of standing under a stream of icy water, but you’ll find that if you summon all your willpower and just do it, it’s not long before your body begins to adjust to the temperature. Yeah, the first couple minutes might be a shock, but once you get past the shivering and cursing, the water feels GOOD. It seriously strengthens your self-discipline muscles!
5. Relieves Symptoms of Depression
YES! While I certainly don’t think that a cold shower is going to replace prescribed medication or professional therapy, I am always down for a new strategy to ease depression naturally when you can feel it setting in. According to research, an icy shower can stimulate the release of noradrenaline (a chemical involved in soothing depression symptoms) in the brain as well as send a ton of electrical impulses to the brain as a result of the many cold receptors present in the skin. Both of these processes can help with alleviating depression symptoms. I’m not much of a science expert, but for me personally, the energizing feeling that sticks with me after a cold shower is in itself a boost of happiness!
My dad has always liked to take cold showers, but I thought he was crazy! I never took the idea seriously until I started learning more about Kundalini Yoga and found out that an icy shower every morning (known also as hydrotherapy, or ishnaan in Sanskrit) is part of the preparation for a Kundalini practice. I love all things yoga and tend to trust its tried and true traditions, so I gave the cold-ass shower a shot every morning for a week. And guess what? I loved it! This is one habit I’m definitely going to be sticking with, and I encourage you lovely people out there to give it a go, too. If the freezing water is too much for you all at once, try taking a warm shower and then switching the temperature to cold for the last minute or two. You’ll step out feeling glowing and rejuvenated!
So: whether you end up loving it or hating it, go forth, try this one out, and let me know how it goes!