We usually associate "relaxing" with non-aggressive activities: a gentle massage, lighting a candle, or strolling through a meadow. However, we have some news for you; some things can be vastly uncomfortable yet provide the best stress relief.
If you've ever been driven to a Chinatown massage parlor by a neck kink and held in tears of pain as the masseurs' fingers pulled contorted muscles apart — you know exactly what I'm talking about. Likewise, if you have never had a deep tissue massage, all you need to know is that after the bruises have faded, you'll feel like a newborn baby.
A Posh Celebrity Activity That Anyone Can Do
If any of you follow Kim K's social accounts, then you might have seen a recent post where KKW chickens out of an ice bath dip while attending a girls' day at Poosh Spa. Most of Kim's friends make it about three minutes, and one makes it six whole minutes by compartmentalizing her discomfort (loosely based on her own words.) Goat status achieved.
Tip: It's all about mind-over-matter in this scenario. While you soak, focus on your breathing, do a body scan, or try picturing your body healing and thanking you.
Ice baths are not reserved for athletes nor celebrities; there are plenty of perks for everybody. For example, if you feel frequently worried or stressed, the extreme cold could improve your mood. Coldwater emulates shock therapy, sending electric impulses that energize you and trigger happiness hormones. There are other benefits as well:
- Improved Sleep
- Speedy Muscle Recovery
- Decreased Inflammation from Chronic Pain
- Decreasing Feelings of Depression
- Increased Blood Circulation
- Mental Clarity
- Improved Mood
Cold immersion (cold showers or ice baths) is a fantastic way to clear away tension and release your body from the constant stress induced by physical activity. In addition, plunging into the ice causes vasculature contraction and reduces inflammation, helping prevent muscle fatigue (myositis.)
Ice Cold Water Increases Plasma Norepinephrine
Our bodies are very delicate ecosystems. Too much of a stress hormone is *no bueno* but not enough; in the case of norepinephrine, it results in a loss of focus and feeling sluggish.
Norepinephrine acts as a neurotransmitter and stress hormone; when levels of norepinephrine are low, it could trigger low blood pressure, depression, and ADHD symptoms.
Ice Baths Act as a Holistic Solution for Hypertension, Depressive Feelings, and ADHD
Unfortunately, the holistic solution for low levels of norepinephrine could be as uncomfortable as willingly crawling into a freezing ice bath. A research study found the sympathetic nervous system could be stimulated by hypothermic stress (in this case, cold water immersion) and cause the release of norepinephrine.
So saying that again, with less jargon, jump in the freezing water could make you feel better if you've been experiencing hypertension, depressive feelings, or increased agitation related to ADHD.
Ice Baths Alternatives
Don't have time to fill your tub with 10 pounds of ice? If it's been a particularly rough week, try cold showers twice a day.
Don't have the time or courage to soak or jump into a freezing bath or take a cold shower twice a day? Try herbal-infused ice cubes. According to Vogue, using ice cube facials is the best-kept skincare secret there is. Ice cube rubs can minimize pores and tame facial redness. In addition, you can infuse ice cubes with milk or green tea, Vogue says, for even more benefits.
But if you want the benefits of cold immersion, you can work your way up to it: finish the end of your *warm* shower with the faucet turned all the way to the "C."
Perhaps you can only handle the cold water for 15 seconds the first two days; on the third day, increase it to 30 seconds, and then 15 seconds feels like nothing after a week. After that, your tolerance for cold water will increase; hang in there; it might become a part of your daily meditations.