Many people aim to avoid any kind of discomfort in their lives, thus hoping to achieve a constant state of relief. However, this cautious attitude can lead to negative consequences for their health, both physically and mentally. Sometimes, taking a step towards an uncomfortable environment helps you build up resistance and ironically enough, even comfort.
This logic applies to a simple activity that could become a beneficial daily habit: taking cold showers. Putting your head and shoulders beneath running water at low temperatures may sound like a harsh thing to do, but it can actually improve your well-being in various ways.
Water is a vital component of life. This natural element has been used in medicine, in what may be called “hydrotherapy“- a complementary therapy that uses water for health purposes. Although this kind of treatment has a wide range of applications, one of the practices involves using cold showers to heal the body and refresh the mind.
- 5 Cold Shower Benefits for Your Body and Mind
- The Cold Shower vs. Hot Shower Debate: Which One Has More Benefits?
- Reap All the Benefits of the Cold With the Wim Hof Method
5 Cold Shower Benefits for Your Body and Mind
Having a cold bath might not be an official medical treatment, but it certainly is a great alternative practice. See below the main benefits for your body, when taking a cold shower:
1. Blood Flows Better
When the surrounding temperature drops, the human body tries to keep its warmth, by going through several physiological changes. In order to keep vital organs safe when the body is in direct contact with chilly waters, it improves its blood flow to the core. For that to happen, the heart pumps harder, which results in a stronger blood flow to the internal regions–transporting necessary nutrients, oxygen, and heat to the organs. This translates into better overall health, faster recovery from effort or exercises, and a more effective healing process.
It is worth noting that the increased blood flow to the innermost body parts comes at the expense of the circulation to the peripheral regions, such as the fingers and toes.
2. It Stimulates Your Brain and Uplifts Your Day
It isn’t hard to notice how a cold bath gets the body up and running. Moreover, it also energizes the mind. The shock felt by the body when immersing yourself in low-temperature water stimulates the brain to produce endorphins, also known as happiness hormones. These substances inhibit pain receptors and boost the mood, while increasing optimism.
In conclusion, cold showers may help avoid or treat depression. Surely, seeking professional help, taking the necessary medications, and having a healthy lifestyle are all measures needed to treat this condition, but hydrotherapy can also be a powerful addition to classical therapy.
3. Catch a Cold Shower, Not a Common Cold
Studies indicate that cold showers could increase the body’s resistance to common sicknesses like colds and flu, by activating the immune system.
Improved circulation and the release of endorphins both support the immune system. A healthy body can better react to viruses and bacteria, while a happy and content mind plays an important role in the overall well-being when fighting against illnesses.
4. Less Inflammation
Inflammation is a normal process that occurs when the body’s tissues are damaged. It typically involves pain, swelling, fever, or rashes, but these don’t last long and usually help repair the body. Sometimes, though, inflammation can also lead to discomfort and permanent damage, especially if it gets chronic. So in some cases, it’s better to seek early relief from its’ annoying symptoms.
By inducing better circulation to the internal organs and less blood flow to the inflamed area, cold showers can fight inflammation by reducing swelling, inhibiting pain, and improving the general well-being.
5. Increased Resistance to Cold
The best way to build resistance against something is to face it, right? It might seem obvious, but one of the most noticeable cold shower benefits is the incremented tolerability to low temperatures. For every chilly drop that runs down your body, a neuron is triggered and sends signals to your brain. With each new trigger, that neuron needs more stimuli to become activated.
That means the body will start needing colder stimuli in order to feel really cold. This could be useful for people preparing for the cold season, for a ski trip, or for an early morning marathon. By constantly training the body with colder and colder showers, they will gradually build resilience to cold and will be able to handle freezing temperatures better than people who haven’t prepared for this.
The Cold Shower vs. Hot Shower Debate: Which One Has More Benefits?
Hydrotherapy involves using water, but it doesn’t have to be at a low temperature. In fact, hot water also has its own benefits for health. So, in a cold shower vs. hot shower debate, which one would come out with the most benefits for ou body?
Both water therapies have their own advantages, but it eventually comes down to each person’s individual needs.
When the body comes into contact with cold water, it typically activates its survival instinct and the sympathetic nervous system is fired up. Warm water generally does the contrary: it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is related to calmness. As such, hot showers are great for inducing muscle relaxation, which is great to relieve fatigue from a workout, or from a tiring day.
Moreover, when water at higher temperatures warms the skin, the pores open up. With that, the pores are more easily cleaned. They also help to open up and clear the airways.
Generally, hot baths are good to take at the end of the day, when we want to relax right before sleep. Cold showers, on the other hand, are good to wake up and get energized for a new day. They’re also useful for those seeking relief from certain illnesses, such as arthritis or skin conditions.
The cons of a hot bath include skin drying and irritation, so people with skin problems such as psoriasis should avoid them.
Cold showers also have cons. While they can activate the immune system, they’re obviously not recommended when you’re already sick. They can strain the body, making it inappropriate for weakened or sick people.
Reap All the Benefits of the Cold With the Wim Hof Method
Getting into contact with low-temperature water has many benefits, but some of them don’t come by simply taking a cold bath. One way to unlock the full potential of cold showers is through the Wim Hof Method.
Wim Hof is a famous Dutch athlete who has an incredible resistance to cold. The way he attained this performance is known as the Wim Hof Method, which involves constant exposure to low temperatures, controlled breathing, and commitment to stick with the training.
This set of techniques is based on the interaction between the human body and nature, just like our ancestors did thousands of years ago. When performed correctly, this interaction not only increases the human body’s tolerance to extreme environments, but it also helps with stress and pain management, inflammation, and chronic conditions such as psoriasis and arthritis.
There are many ways to learn the Wim Hof Method. Commitment is a must, along with the development of a deep connection between body and mind. Although this is accomplished in time through hard work, there is a free mini-class available for starters, to quickly teach you the fundamentals of this method. If you find it interesting, you can learn more by reading books on the topic, taking full classes, or getting personal guidance.
Bear in mind that these practices are not adequate for everyone! Each person should get in contact with their health professional to see if this method is safe and recommended for their own condition, then carefully read about the benefits as well as the potential dangers of the Wim Hof Method, in order to avoid misconceptions or accidents.
Cold showers might be uncomfortable at first, but they can improve general health, promote alertness, and provide relief from some conditions. Still, they don’t miraculously heal every illness; cold showers should be complementary to other treatments and habits.
So, evaluate your situation to see whether or not a cool, refreshing bath is good for you.