How to Mentally Prepare for Cold Water Immersion
Cold immersion is an ancient practice. It has gained so much attention over the last few years, there are tremendous benefits and it is certainly worth trying to explore getting your own ice bath so that you can make the most out of your cold water immersion therapy. Want to find out more about ice bathing, how to get started and mentally prepare yourself, along with how it could benefit your blood flow and central nervous system? Take a look below.
Benefits of Having an Ice Bath
Some of the many benefits of having an ice bath include balancing your hormone levels helping with fertility. Ice baths can also help to lower body fat and food cravings. They can even help you with your immune function.
Having Ice Baths at Home
If you want to start having ice baths at home or if you want to make sure that you are getting the best result from your cold exposure, then here are a few tips that will help you to get the best start with your ice bathing journey.
The Wim Hof Method
Wim Hof was the populariser of cold water immersion. The Wim Hof method involved him climbing up to snow-capped mountains in nothing but his underwear.
He spent decades trying to strengthen his immune system so he could withstand the cold temperatures. It’s possible to make cold water immersion part of your own routine by creating a cold water therapy routine at home, without going to the extremes that Wim did.
Have Cold Showers
It’s so important to prepare yourself for your ice bath, mentally as well as physically, to get the most from your practice. Cold therapy is a practice that is best done slowly and with some training just like you would with a muscle in the gym, so before you go ahead and invest in a full ice bath to lower your core body temperature, it helps to practice building your tolerance first
How Long Should You Have Cold Showers for?
One way to do this would be for you to have cold showers. This can be done over 30 days so that you can slowly accustom yourself to extremely cold temperatures that an ice bath will expose you to. Day 1-10 could consist of you having a cold shower for one minute at a time. For the next 10 days, you can build it up to 3 minutes a day, and then the final 10 days would be a maximum of 5 minutes.
Buying a Tank
The tank for your first ice bath should be modest. A lot of people buy ice baths for cold therapy to help with their blood flow, but they underestimate their tolerance for cold temperatures. For most people, a kiddie pool will do as it can be stored away when it is not in use. It is also very affordable.
Avoiding Negative Experiences
Getting an ice bath tub can be an option if you want something to really invest in but don’t buy one too big. if you plunge into the deep end with your ice bath experience, then you may end up having a negative experience with your cold water therapy, and this can put you off taking ice baths in the future.
Take it Slow
It may be called cold water immersion, but that doesn’t mean that you have to plunge yourself neck-deep in ice cold water. You should take it slowly so that you can grow gradually accustomed to your ice baths and practice easing into the cold by controlling your breath.
Filling your Tank
If you decide to opt for a freezer then make sure that you child-proof it. This can be done by putting a weight plate on it, as well as unplugging it when it is not in use.
Be mindful of displacement too, because the last thing you want is to have water flood the floor because you didn’t account for your own body weight within the ice bath.
Preparing your Mind
Before you even think about plunging in your ice bath, you need to make sure that you have your tub filled with cold water.
You can even use a hot tub if you have one. When your ice bath is ready, it is important to down regulate your nervous system down and optimise you’re breathing.
A lot of your pain will come from held tension. If you get it into your head that cold therapy is going to hurt, or that plunging into the ice bath is going to be unbearable, it likely will be more challenging than it could be. Feelings like this manifest and it could create the outcome you’re trying to avoid.
Engaging the Parasympathetic System
Before you decide to plunge into your ice bath, you need to engage your rest and digest parasympathetic nervous system. You can do this by taking slow, deep, whole-body breaths in and out through you’re nose or pursing your lips like they are holding a straw to create some pressure on your outward breath. Humming can also boost the production of nitric oxide which will help to dilate blood vessels and deliver oxygen to the body’s vital tissues.
Once you’re submerging in the ice bath, steadily move until you are submerged up to the lower part of your neck so that all of your shoulders are beneath the water. Submerging your head in ice baths is optional, and can help to constrict your blood vessels but I do not practice or encourage this as it is not necessary and can be quite uncomfortable for a beginner as well as prolonging the effects of after drop. Our most precious organ is in there so I like to take extra care of that part of my body. If you do not submerge your neck and shoulders in the ice baths, the longer it will take your body to become accustomed to the temperature.
You have to remember that when you plunge into ice baths, your body will go into some form of shock. Ice baths are designed to facilitate a stress response as this response is what will encourage your body to create health-boosting adaptations.
It’s useful to know that when you take ice baths or cold dips, it helps to focus on and prolong your exhale. Don’t worry if you enter the ice bath holding tension, as you take control of your breath and extend a slow exhale through pursed lips or nasal breaths, this will down-regulate your nervous system and after a short period of time, it is possible to experience a greater sense of ease in the body whilst in the cold.
You may find that you end up gasping, and this is something to work on by focusing on the control of your breathing and prolonged exhales. It can also help to control your breath if you can enter the water on an exhale as you might find that your first breath in will be relaxed, so you can benefit your entire body while getting the biggest ice bath benefits.