Every time I talk to people about cold exposure, I always get the same response, 'why would I do that? It sounds like hell, and I could never do that', and you know what I always respond with?

'The fact that you responded like that, is exactly the reason why you need to try it!'

The cold is the fastest, easiest, and most impactful tool we have at our disposal when it comes to creating mental toughness/resilience, and getting out of our own heads, because of this, it does wonders to our stress response system. I PROMISE you that if you're under the pump, stressed out, or have a tonne of head noise that if you expose your body to an environment that's cold enough, you will forget about all your troubles and worries in seconds, I 100% guarantee it!

Because of this, it's ones of the most freeing experiences we can have. Name another time when you've been truly devoid of all thoughts, all your worries and all your stresses?? I'm pretty sure you can't! So what is actually happening in the cold?  When we are stressed, stress hormones are secreted (Cortisol, Adrenaline & Norephinephrine) to help us in 4 key ways; fight, flight, freeze or f@#k, but once this event has passed these stress hormones head back down to base level.

Here's the problem though, 99% of us don't head back down to baseline levels, why??

Because we are in a constant chronic state of stress, we are stressed at home with family life, we then spend an hour commuting to work, we are then under the pump for the next 10hrs with work, we then commute home, family life hits us again as soon as you open the door etc etc you get the picture, so our stress hormones never get turned off, they in over drive, 24/7!

But here's the beauty of the cold... Say we are in a chronic state of stress, our stress hormones are constantly switched on, we're under the pump and we can feel it all through our body (we all know the feeling right).

If at this point, we were to jump into a cold tub, a cold shower, or an ice tub etc, our stress hormones will be hijacked with such a surge of hormones (Cortisol, Adrenaline & Norephinephrine), far greater than what we were already experiencing from the chronic daily stress, and it's this surge where all the magic happens.

Because this initial shock of the cold is happening to your body rather than mind, you automatically become very in tune to your body, you will forget about every single thing that is happening in your life apart from what is happening to your body, you don't give two hoots what you did at work today, the fact that your kids pissed you off all morning, your financial struggles, all you care about is whether you're going to get out alive from this experience or not.  And it's the most freeing experience you will ever have!

There are 2 key points that I want you to really understand and to take away;

1) Once you're finished with the cold, your core temp needs to get back to normal, which takes time, and if you let yourself warm up naturally (thermogenesis) rather than by having a warm shower, a hot bath or hot tub etc, your mind is still thinking about the body rather than your stressful life, so your stress hormones drop significantly during this process, to a level far lower than what they were prior to the cold.

2) When it comes to experiencing the next stress that life throws your way and you feel that up regulation of your stress hormones building up, there's going to be a major difference now, your mind and body have been here before, it's experienced levels of stress far higher than this thanks to the cold, you tell yourself that this is an OK feeling, I've felt much worse, this isn't so bad compared to the that cold shower I had this morn before work, and in time you will learn to down regulated your stress response system. So essentially the cold trains or primes the body with stress so that it can learn to deal with it, be OK with it, and move on.

The cold also stimulates our Vagus Nerve, this nerve is the biggest in the body and it has a very important interaction with our nervous system, it's primary role is to calm us down and to down regulate our system, and if you know anything about this, its called our Parasympathetic Nervous System (rest & digest), it's job is to bring us down and the cold helps it to be activated!

The final piece of the puzzle is what happens afterwards, and it's not really talked about enough, and that's the Dopamine & Serotonin hit!

Dopamine plays a role in many important bodily functions, including movement, memory, pleasure, reward and motivation, whereas Serotonin plays a role in our mood, emotions, appetite and our digestion.

But here's the crazy part, after cold water immersion, we can get up to a 250% increase in both of these these. Think of a runners high, but on steroids!

What's even more promising is that people with depression and mental illness tend have lower levels of Dopamine, Serotonin & Norephinephrine which is why the cold plays such an important role in our overall mental health, and an area that is being heavily researched at the moment!

Hopefully you've made it down this far and you're curious enough to give this a go, so what are my go to options with cold exposure??

- Scottish Shower (hot & finish with cold)
- Cold Shower
- Cold Bath
- Swim In A River Lake (in winter of course)
- Ice Tub/Bath (click here to check out the one I sell)
- Walk Outside (when snows out or a frost with minimal clothing)

Don't let fear get in the way of your freedom;

Until Next Time,