Here you are today, living in a fast-paced world where technology is evolving in the blink of an eye. Your brain is processing a ton of information every day. Sometimes a good news but mostly a stressful one.
Most of the information come and go. It only transits in your mind. But in the other time, there is some information that stuck in your mind. Bothering you all day.
Remember when you were late in the morning and your lecturer didn’t let you into the class? Or when your boss said that your report was all wrong and you had to do it all over again?
That kind of information is usually getting stuck on your mind. It makes you think like “today is the worst day of your life”. You come home exhausted with no spirit left. You feel stressed, anxious, and finally, you are falling asleep.
The next morning you wake up feeling tired. There are negative thoughts in your mind. The voice in your head said “What am I gonna do with my life? Why is this happening to me?”
Have you ever feel like that? Well, I do. Sometimes life is not as easy as you thought. Shit happens. People get stressed. But it’s okay. It’s natural. That’s how our body reacts when the external situation got worse. If you saw a bull coming towards you, your instinct would be to run away. Your stress hormones would help you to run faster than normal until you were out of danger.
Okay, first of all, sorry for the “little-bit-dark” introduction. The reality is that’s how most people live their life. Full of stress & anxiety. So, how to deal with it?
I found that there is some way to reduce your stress and improving your mental health. One of it called Hydrotherapy. Or as you know, cold shower.
What?! Taking a shower could make me stress-free? Are you crazy?
Whoa! Calm down. you haven’t misread anything. It is true that taking a cold shower will improve your mental health and makes you a better person.
Actually, taking cold showers isn’t just a new and hip trend. The Ancient Greeks, Russians, Zen Vajrayana Monks, Native Americans, Japanese Shinto Monks (they call it “Misogi“, or spirit cleansing) and Spartan Soldiers were well aware of the benefits of cold water, and in the 18th century the modern revival of cold water treatments was re-discovered in Germany under the new name “Hydrotherapy”.
According to a journal by A. Mooventhan and L Nivethitha, Hydrotherapy is one of the basic methods of treatment widely used in the system of natural medicine, which is also called as water therapy, aquatic therapy, pool therapy, and balneotherapy.
Is there really any difference between taking a cold shower and a hot shower?
Sure, the temperature of the water is different! Meh, just kidding. I believe that you would be a skeptic until you tried it by yourself. But let me tell you this. A. Mooventhan and L. Nivethitha also said in their study that on a 14°C cold shower, our cortisol concentrations tended to decrease comparing when we shower at 32°C. It means that our stress hormone is getting reduced.
Exciting right? But in my experience, the most exciting part is not from the science perspective. But from the mental perspective.
4 Benefits of Cold Shower For Your Mental
- Wipe All Your Negative Thoughts
When your head is exposed to the cold water, all your worries, anxiety, negative thoughts, bad feeling are suddenly disappeared. The water has wiped them from your brain. Close your eyes and you’ll see light. Your head will feel lighter. It is the best moment that you could get from cold water showering. You are free of all your problems for a while and actually feeling present. Having a hard time believing me? Try it by yourself.
- It Gives You Momentum To Start Your Day
Most of the people don’t want to have a cold shower in the morning because they are afraid of taking a risk. They love to live in a comfort zone. Taking a hot water bath and feeling safe. But what they do not realize is a cold shower in the morning is the perfect habit to train yourself to gamble more often. Overcoming the intense anxiety of stepping into the shower when you know the water is freezing completely breaks the endless cycle of comfort. It will give a momentum to start your day.
- As a Form of Meditation
Japanese meditators are famous for meditating outside during cold weather or under cold-running waterfalls [taki-shu-gyou 滝修行]. Like everything in Japan, the Japanese like to put practices into mental or spiritual challenges. Meditation under a chilling waterfall is usually being treated as a perseverance test more than a day-to-day practice routine to nurture one’s level of chi energy, or to open one’s chi channels – like the central channel where the chakras are located.
- Increases Your Awareness
The moment you step into the cold water, your heartbeat accelerates and your breathing becomes deeper due to the shock that your body experiences. Your deeper breaths are your body’s attempt to keep you warm and in the process, this also oxygenates your brain while the increased heart rate releases a rush of blood and adrenaline throughout your body. This provides the perfect energy boost to ‘wake you up’ and start the day.
4 Benefits Of Cold Shower For Your Body
- Increases Immunity Defenses and Blood Circulation
Cold water can improve circulation by encouraging blood to surround our organs, which can then help to heal some problems of the skin and heart. As cold water hits the body, it’s ability to get blood circulating leads the arteries to more efficiently pump blood, therefore boosting our overall heart health. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, a natural health expert. It can also lower blood pressure, clear blocked arteries, and improve our immune system.
- Increases Skin and Hair Health
When it comes to hair and skin, one of the most natural ways to maintain your appearance is with cold showers. Hot water has the tendency to dry out our skin, so it’s best to use cold water to tighten your cuticles and pores, which will prevent them from getting clogged. Cold water can “seal” the pores in the skin and scalp too, preventing dirt from getting in.
Jessica Krant, a board-certified dermatologist, told The Huffington Post that ice-cold or lukewarm water can help our skin and prevent it from being stripped of its healthy natural oils too quickly. Remember, cold water only temporarily tightens skin as it constricts blood flow, but it does not shrink pores. When it comes to haircare, cold showers can make hair appear shinier, stronger, and healthier by flattening hair follicles and increasing their ability to grip the scalp.
- Increases Stress Tolerance
A study conducted in 1994 found that exposure to the cold was an effective means of decreasing uric acid levels. Exposure to the cold also increases glutathione, an antioxidant that keeps all other antioxidants performing at their optimal levels, helping us adapt to repeated oxidative stress.
- Increases Weight Loss
There are two types of fat within us; white fat and brown fat. White fat is the excess fat our body accumulates when we are consuming more food than we actually need. Brown fat is the good fat which is responsible for generating the heat to keep our body’s warm.
When we shower in cold water, brown fat (the good fat) starts burning up in order to keep our body’s warm. A 2009 study found that our brown fat increases 15 times the normal amount when we regularly expose it to extremely cold temperatures. This could account for up to 4kg’s (9 pounds) of weight loss per year.
3 Tips for Getting Started
- Just Do It
At the first time, you may procrastinate to step into the shower. Don’t waste 30 minutes of your life like I did in the beginning. Don’t give yourself time to think. Pull the curtain back and run in. The cold wouldn’t kill you.
- Splash The Water To Your Body First
If you feel like running in the cold water is too much, you could try to feel the water first. Splash the water to your body using your hands. Feel it. Adapt to it. It will reduce shock because of the temperature change in your body.
- Make Sure The Shower is High Pressure
If the pressure of your source water is too low, showering on cold water wouldn’t feel so refreshed. It needs to be under high pressure to maximize the effect.