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Do You Need A Cold Shower?

With the heatwave in UK this week there's no better time to discuss the benefits of COLD SHOWERS and even ICE BATHS if you're brave enough (or paddling pools for wimps like me) so below is an article I received from my friends at Precision Nutrition discussing the benefits of "stressing" your body with cold temperatures for the good of your health.

BONUS TIP: Electric Pumps are WELL worth the money...

How a Little Stress Can Make You More Awesome

This may seem pretty weird at first. Why? Because we’re about to suggest you take a cold shower.

We have a legit reason, though. One that, with practice, could help you strengthen your mental and emotional health, and stay calmer during times of stress. In turn, those benefits can positively affect just about every aspect of your life—from improving your productivity and relationships, to bolstering your ability to make better food choices. But yeah, you may think it’s weird—and so might everyone else you know. That’s actually a bonus benefit, though: It’ll give you something interesting to talk about at dinner! Let the weirdness begin. Today, we share a “stress inoculation” technique, courtesy of Craig Weller, co-author of PN’s Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery (SSR) Coaching Certification. For background, Weller is a former Special Warfare Combat-Craft Crewmen in the Navy. This is the elite U.S. Special Operation Force that inserts and extracts Navy SEALs from all kinds of dangerous situations around the world. It’s a high-stress job if there ever was one. So to prepare for it, the Navy requires a lot of high-stress training, or “stress inoculation.” Much of this training is spent in jarringly cold water. (We’re talking hours and sometimes days on end.) You can imagine how fun this isn’t. Exposing your body to shockingly cold temperatures is naturally stressful, and for good reason, says Weller.

For most of human history, suddenly plunging into ice water often meant that, within the next few minutes, you’d be faced with possibly losing your fingers and toes—or even your life. Thanks to the conveniences of modern life, though, you can now experience this strongly-wired stress response in complete safety—and with full control over the stressor. Think of cold water as a stress simulator. You probably understand why a flight simulator is so valuable to a pilot: It allows them to practice flying in difficult scenarios. They have to make all the same decisions, but they can safely learn from mistakes and adjust the intensity of the practice session depending on their ability. Similarly, you can use cold exposure to practice your ability to accept physical discomfort without adding mental or emotional stress to it. How? By maintaining a state of mindfulness—and regulating your self-talk and physical responses—when the cold hits you. This builds an important generalized skill that helps you stay calm and thoughtful during stressful experiences. Here’s how to do it. Your goal: Allow yourself to experience something uncomfortable while observing and controlling your reactions. Step 1: While in the shower, turn the water to cold. Stand directly under it for several seconds. Aim for 10 seconds of cold water before you turn it back to warm. If 10 seconds seems too long, that’s okay. You can go for just a quick shot of water for only 1 or 2 seconds, and only reduce the temperature a little bit. Maybe lukewarm instead of cold. Whatever you choose, just figure out how to get a little uncomfortable. Step 2: Stay as calm as possible. When the icy water hits, you’ll want to startle or gasp. Or tense up, bracing against the cold. Don’t. Instead, consciously try to stay relaxed—inwardly and outwardly calm. (You might even find it useful to think the word “calm” to yourself before and during these few seconds.) Take some deep, easy breaths. (Try not to get water up your nose.) Step 3: Observe and be curious. What’s happening in your mind? Ask yourself:

  • Who or what is in control right now?

  • How do I instinctively want to respond?

  • How am I choosing to respond? Why?

  • Does this feel like a threat?

  • Is it a real threat?

  • Will this kill me or cause tissue damage?

  • What thoughts are coming up?

  • What emotion am I experiencing?

Go deeper into that emotion: What is this sensation, really? What color is it? What does it taste like? Does it manifest in a particular part of your body or in a particular way? Begin a relationship with that panicky stress response. Learn to recognize and control it. After your 10 seconds, step out of the water, and flip the faucet back to hot. Enjoy your newfound appreciation for warmth. One very important rule… You must have a successful conclusion to this exercise. Even if that means you barely lower the water temperature and only for 2 seconds, you must be able to maintain relaxed, deep breathing with calm, deliberate thoughts throughout. No tensing, no racing thoughts, no rapid breathing. Just calm, thoughtful acceptance. As you practice, you can increase the amount of time per session, and gradually make the water colder—as long as you’re always staying at a level of challenge that allows you to be uncomfortable but successful. Aim to work your way up to about 10 total minutes of cold water exposure spread out over the week. Even if cold showers aren’t for you… … understanding—and improving upon—how well you manage your emotions can be seriously valuable.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on.


your Personal Trainer / Paddling Pool Lover


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