Among all the amazing things life has to offer, there are still some stresses that can arise from life’s fast pace and high demands. While some stress is normal and healthy, too much stress for too long can negatively affect your physical and mental wellbeing.
While you can’t always get rid of stress, the good news is that you can train your body and mind to better react to it, and be more resilient when facing pressure head-on. Cold plunging can be an effective stress-reducing method to train your body and mind to handle pressure. How exactly does cold plunging for resiliency help you handle stress? Keep reading to find out.
How Stress Affects Your Mind and Body
Stress is a strong force. According to the American Psychological Association, when you feel maxed out, several damaging things can happen to your body and brain.
Stress Causes Muscle Tension
For one, your muscles tense up. This is your body’s way of protecting itself from injuries and pain. Excessive muscle tension can lead to chronic stress if your muscles stay triggered over a long period. Stress can also lead to migraine headaches which can develop from chronic muscle tension in your shoulders, head, and neck.
Stress Causes Respiratory Challenges
In addition to muscle tension, stress affects your respiratory system. It can cause shortness of breath and rapid breathing as your airways become constricted. For people with diseases and conditions like respiratory disease, panic attacks, and asthma, stress can bring on dangerous breathing challenges and trigger attacks.
Stress Increases Your Heart Rate
Furthermore, stress can affect your cardiovascular system, causing an increase in your heart rate as the hormones associated with stress - cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline - race through your body.
Stress dilates blood vessels to your heart
Finally, stress makes the blood vessels that direct blood to your heart dilate. This happens to increase the amount of blood flowing to your heart. This is your typical fight or flight response, and it's your body’s way of preparing you to either “fight” or “fly away” from the stressor. Too much of this over time can lead to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
Don't stress about stress
Overall, too much stress is bad news. The condition can raise your cholesterol, impair your immune system, cause chronic fatigue, and lead to metabolic and immune disorders. Stress can also cause gut diseases, affect your nutrient absorption, lead to a malfunctioning nervous system, and lower your reproductive capabilities.
Feeling stressed reading about stress? Don’t worry! This is where cold plunging / ice baths comes in.
How Cold Plunging Can Help You Build Resiliency and Decrease Stress
As an extra tool in your kit when it comes to facing life’s pressures, having a regular ice bathing routine can do wonders. When it comes to personal development and self-improvement, ice bathing presents unique advantages. Among the many benefits of cold plunging, increased resiliency is one of them. By exposing your body to the controlled strain of sitting in icy cold water, you can train your body and mind to better handle stress over time due to hormone changes and “stress training.”
Cold Plunging Adapts Your Body to React Less to Stress
Like exercise makes your body stronger, cold plunging acts in a similar way to build your body’s resiliency. A leading researcher in cold water swimming, Professor Mike Tipton, found that cold water swimmers had a better adaptation to their bodies’ “fight-or-flight” response, with decreased levels of cortisol - your body’s main stress hormone. He explains that by exposing one’s body to the controlled stress of cold water repeatedly over time, one’s body adapts to react less to the shock of the cold water while also adapting to react less to stress long-term.
Also, a study found that cold water swimmers were able to handle the cold more easily the more they plunged into cold waters. This short-term voluntary cold exposure resulted in long-term lower levels of chemicals that cause oxidative stress and an “increased tolerance to environmental stress.”
Cold Plunging Produces Norepinephrine (Which Boosts Focus, Mood, and Attention)
When cold water shocks your body, your brain produces norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter and hormone, which helps you gain better focus and attention. Norepinephrine also plays a role in regulating your emotions. Depleted levels of norepinephrine are said to play a significant role in causing lack of energy, lack of concentration, and even ADHD and depression. Since ice bathing has been shown to increase norepinephrine production, it’s worth exploring not only as a stress reliever but also as a mood booster.
Are You Ready to Take the Plunge?
The proven science behind ice bathing’s ability to help you control your body and mind’s reaction to stress is remarkable. In addition, the fact that cold plunging can help promote your body’s production of mood-regulating chemicals is a true win.
If you are ready to change your life, check out the Cold Plunge tub today and gain the resiliency to bounce back from stress better than ever.