SCL Weekly Wellbeing: The Cold Shower

Created for SCL by Nick Watson and Gary Waters

To help support its members, SCL is providing a Weekly Wellbeing blog to provide insights and inspiration to help you be kinder to yourself and to support the wellbeing of others. #SCLweeklywellbeing

The Weekly Wellbeing blog has been specially created for SCL by Nick Watson and Gary Waters.

Unlike most Legal Technology entrepreneurs, Nick Watson comes from a development background with a history of developing large, bespoke projects for a variety of industries including the Law. Launching in April 2016, Nick co-founded Ruby Datum, a user experience-driven, pioneering Virtual Data Room company. He also has a passion for wellbeing and is working towards a vision of a more mindful legal industry.

Gary Waters
 is a respected coach and entrepreneur. Gary’s background includes building a #1 ranking hospitality business in one of the UK’s most competitive tourism markets in the South West of England. Gary decided to sell that business so that he could channel all his energy and focus into his passion, which is helping people through coaching. Gary specialises in helping clients develop an Empowered Mindset, which enables them to navigate life’s challenges on their own terms. He’s passionate about helping people create a life of purpose and fulfilment through Personal Coaching, Business Coaching and Consulting programmes.

For the first week, we discussed the importance of a morning routine. We then expanded on one of the key areas for growth, gratitude and the profound impact it can have on our lives.

This week is all about the cold shower. It may seem a bit far-fetched to isolate the cold shower to one article, but the benefits it produces are well worth the focus.

Firstly, it's an easy, quick win. You don't have to spend time making lists, reflecting or exercising. The cold shower only takes a minute, with the impact being rapidly noticeable. If you were struggling to motivate yourself in other areas, this is a great place to start.

Why?
Cold Showers will make you feel great.

Endorphins are hormones that, to put quite simply, make you feel great.

Clinical studies show that just 5 minutes of a cold shower can help relieve symptoms of depression, increase alertness, clarity and energy levels through the release of these Endorphins.

Alertness
It probably goes without saying, but plunging yourself into a cold shower in the morning will awaken you from the most groggy of states, increasing alertness and without a doubt, kickstart your day in style.

Boost your immune system
A randomised clinical study against a control group saw a 29% reduction in sickness absence for those who took a cold shower. Plus, it makes you feel great (perhaps the reason why). A clear, optimistic mindset often leads to a much healthier person. Stress is a great producer of illness.

Improved circulation
When you hit the cold shower, your body starts working to try and regulate its temperature. As your heart beats faster, your blood starts to circulate quicker. This will improve your circulation over time, if taken regularly.

Improved circulation aids with cell regeneration, such as muscle recovery or improved, smoother skin (as reported by many) when fresh, oxygenated blood flows to these areas.

Metabolism benefits
Cold showers cause increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system. In-tandem with other efforts to change lifestyle habits, research shows a cold shower can increase metabolism and subsequently lose weight. We still don't know the why, but it works.

Reduced Pain
One study showed that cold water can result in effects similar to anesthetics for pain relief. The nerve signals conduct impulses and blood vessels constrict, reducing swelling and edema. In turn, this reduces the rate at which nerves transmit pain to the brain.

How do I begin?
If you can manage just 10 seconds of a cold shower, it's something to celebrate. We like to aim for at least 30 seconds. A minute at 20°c is what you should be aiming for, however many people have reported further benefits from cold showers for as long as 5-10 minutes.

Next time you're in the shower, turn it to cold and breathe slowly, drawing your focus to your chest as it expands and contracts.

Some people like to take the Wim Hof breathing method as an approach. Wim Hof is known as The Iceman and holds Guinness world records for prolonged time spent under ice. The method is quite simple:

  • Get comfortable, relax
  • Breathe in fast and deep, don't hold, let it go
  • Repeat 20 to 40 times
  • With your last breath, make it a big one and exhale squeezing all the air out your lungs
  • Hold as long as you can whilst exhaled
  • When gasping for air, inhale deeply, hold for 10-15 seconds
  • Repeat if you wish, perhaps 2-3 times
  • Hop into the shower

Some people like to hold their breath in for longer too. It's about finding what works best for you.

Just one final note
Stressed during the day? Struggling to break the cycle of anxiety or anger? Hop in a cold shower! You'll be forced to shift focus into the present moment and often see things from an alternative perspective.

This does all come with the caveat that those with heart problems or medical issues should consult a doctor before taking cold showers, to be safe. Particularly as the cold shower will increase your heart rate. **This article is not medical advice**

Studies:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S030698770700566X
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5025014/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049052/  

Also see:
SCL Weekly Wellbeing: https://www.scl.org/blog/10886-scl-weekly-wellbeing
SCL Weekly Wellbeing: The Ultimate Life Hack: https://www.scl.org/blog/10892-scl-weekly-wellbeing-the-ultimate-life-hack

SCL Weekly Wellbeing is created by Nick Watson and Gary Waters. #SCLweeklywellbeing

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Published: 2020-05-08T08:54:27

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