Move out of your comfort zone - a phrase describing an individual who has increasingly become sedentary and physiologically unchallenged due to the high degree of control they have imposed over their environment. Studies suggest that environmental stress that challenges our body's thermal equilibrium may produce significant health benefits.
Ice water immersion activates the sympathetic nervous system, increases heart rate, dilates the pupils, constricts blood vessels and stimulates the vagus nerve, causing a series of positive effects. The release of norepinephrine and adrenaline from taking an ice bath could have some effect on the brain that shows great promise for alternatives to prescription medications. Ice-water immersion may be the key to helping reduce anxiety and depression as there are studies that suggest ice baths improve mental health.
Doing ice water immersion therapy has been typically used to recover after a hard workout and reduce pain, swelling and inflammation, however, over the years it's been seen that it has some powerful neurological and neuroprotective benefits that could be a game-changer for improving mental health and therefore resilience.
Ice water immersion therapy increases the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood elevators. An increase in endorphins leads to reduced stress levels and a feeling of euphoria. When the body is exposed to ice water, it triggers the production of white blood cells. This is crucial in fighting off infections and diseases. A strong immune system means a better ability to fight off stress-related illnesses and cope with physical and mental challenges. During the immersion therapy the body goes into a state of vasoconstriction, where blood vessels constrict to reduce blood flow to the extremities. This causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, which can lead to improved circulation and oxygenation of the body that in turn leads to better brain function, increased mental alertness, and improved cognitive performance. Ice water immersion therapy can help to increase mental toughness and resilience. During the period of immersion, the body adapts to the ice water where the individual finds strength to increase mental toughness and resilience and over a period of time it increases the ability of an individual to handle stressful situations.
No matter how many times you dip yourself in ice cold water, you will be uncomfortable. you will feel the stress response, what changes with repeated cold water exposure is YOUR response to the stress, thus training the mind and body to be resilient.
*It is essential to note that ice water immersion therapy should be done under the guidance of a trained professional and with caution. Always consult with your certified physician before using ice water immersion therapy should you have any prior issues that could put you at risk.