Cold showers have been around for centuries and were the original form of a shower. We used to wash in cold water because there was no other option. Our lives have become more comfortable, making us softer. However, a cold shower in the morning can help you embrace discomfort. It takes a lot of endurance to overcome discomfort and achieve success. This small baptism of fire or ice can prepare you to face any challenge.
Even though I was hesitant to continue cold showers due to fear of worsening fatigue symptoms in the past, I now realize they play a vital role in recovery from many diseases. Cold showers are particularly beneficial for those with hormonal imbalances and mitochondrial dysfunction. Let’s examine the science behind this.
A Scientific Overview about Cold Showers
The study on the effects of hydrotherapy based on scientific evidence is quite fascinating. Firstly, it challenges the notion that cold showers may be too strenuous for people with adrenal fatigue. The study involved taking blood samples of patients who were exposed to cold showers at varying temperatures. We will focus on the results obtained from the lowest temperature, 14°C, as I believe in working towards colder showers.
A cold shower is an acute stress to your body
When your body cannot warm up, it perceives the situation as freezing and releases norepinephrine, causing increased heart rate and blood pressure. This can stress your adrenals, but acute stress hormones can have a therapeutic impact on your body’s ability to withstand stress.
Are cold showers effective for treating anxiety and depression?
After surviving the potential life or death experience that a cold shower can feel like to your body, your other worries appear less significant and much easier to handle. The study also documents this feeling of accomplishment, as dopamine levels increased by more than 250%. Cold showers have also been found to be effective in treating anxiety and depression in other studies. I believe that the surge in dopamine, coupled with norepinephrine and endorphins, plays a significant role in this.
Cortisol, the stress hormone
In the aforementioned study, cortisol levels were documented, which individuals conducting research would likely keep a close watch on. Surprisingly, the results revealed a DECREASE in cortisol levels. This finding alone assures me that cold showers are appropriate and safe for individuals who are anxious about straining their adrenals too much. Although I prefer to rely on scientific evidence, anecdotes also have significant value. From my personal experience, I can attest that cold showers are advantageous for adrenal fatigue and CFS. Now, let’s discuss mitochondria!
If you experience fatigue, it’s essential to consider your mitochondria at some point. These tiny furnace-like structures in our cells are responsible for generating most of our heat and energy. I refer to them as furnaces for a good reason. Can you see why they are crucial and how cold therapy might influence their behavior?
In a study conducted on rats exposed to exercise (swimming) in water at different temperatures, mitochondrial biogenesis (creation of new mitochondria) was evaluated. Both exercise and cold exposure resulted in significant increases in mitochondrial biogenesis. Since our mitochondria produce our energy, it’s logical that increasing energy demand would encourage biogenesis. Unfortunately, exercise isn’t a viable option initially for many people experiencing persistent fatigue symptoms, but cryotherapy is! Additionally, our mitochondria generate heat for us, so by stimulating an acute demand for heat, we promote the proliferation of our mitochondria, resulting in more heat generation – and that could never be a bad thing.
Cold Showers Enhance Immunity
Both anecdotal and scientific evidence suggest that cold showers can enhance immunity. Reports indicate that cold showers strengthen the immune system response by increasing white blood cells, which may result in reduced susceptibility to illness. Nonetheless, due to the lack of research on cold showers and immunity, there is no additional scientific evidence available to support this claim.
The vagus nerve is a popular topic nowadays, and rightfully so. The connection between the stress response and the vagus nerve is strong, and there is growing interest in its role in disease. As a critical component of the parasympathetic nervous system, the vagus nerve’s strength, also known as vagal tone, is closely tied to many diseases.
The balance between our fight or flight response and rest and digest mechanism is well-established, with the latter being mainly regulated by the vagus nerve. Enhancing vagal tone can help us relax more easily and recover from hyper-arousal states more quickly. Given that most illnesses have a strong connection to the gut, improving vagal tone can be immensely helpful.
Improving parasympathetic activity not only enhances stomach acid and enzyme secretions but also improves gastrointestinal motility, which is critical in healing gut problems. One of the most effective ways to enhance vagal tone is through cold exposure on the face, head, and neck. Therefore, cold showers are also beneficial in this regard. Undoubtedly, the vagus nerve deserves a dedicated article, which we’ll have coming soon.
Cold Showers Boost Productivity
As I touched on a little in the intro; there’s a lot we want to achieve in life, and sometimes you just don’t know where to start. For me, for the longest time I could lose focus, passion and inspiration for what I do, and productivity would plummet.
Although doing something you’re passionate about is rewarding, it’s not always easy. Sometimes, you have to buckle down and work even when you’re not feeling inspired. I discovered that starting my day with a shower helps me overcome this problem. After completing the task of taking a shower, other activities such as changing some links, making a phone call, or writing a post seem trivial. Moreover, it not only motivates me to complete the work I was avoiding, but it also helps me find inspiration.
Perhaps it’s due to the endorphins or dopamine, but it happens without fail. Even better, I can enter the flow state much more frequently and feel like I’m not even working; I’m just enjoying myself.
My Challenge To You
30 for 30. That’s my challenge. For 30 days, at the end of your morning shower, turn that temperature all the way down to cold for 30 seconds. At first, the hardest part is making that difficult decision to turn it to cold. When I’m getting in the shower and I know what I’m in for, I’m honestly thinking to myself, ‘what the hell is wrong with me? I must be insane!’ But afterwards when I’m towling myself off, that sense of wellbeing, hardiness and ultimately the power I have to withstand discomfort makes me feel like a god.
I’m at the point where I ALMOST don’t want to get out when my shower is coming to an end, and I’m slowly extending the length to five minutes (3:30 at time of writing) and I feel this is a habit I will keep for a lifetime. I hope this article helps. Stay sexy, embrace discomfort, happy healing.
After I finished my 30-day challenge, I sensed that I needed a break from cold showers. I try to listen to my intuition and I’m glad I did. I don’t know if it’s because of my persistence or my current healing journey progress, but I needed to stop taking cold showers every day. They were too much for me.
The difference between a medicine and a poison is often the dosage, and I think that applies here. My challenge still stands, but if you feel like the dosage is poisoning your body, then cut back. Now I take cold showers when I need them, like when I’m having a difficult day, need inspiration, or experiencing vagal-related health issues such as slow motility.
I feel better for not continuing to take them dogmatically. Do what’s right for you and happy healing!
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