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Cold Shower: Powerful Way To Improve Your Mental Health

Cold Shower: Powerful Way To Improve Your Mental Health

Ask anybody if they have heard of hydrotherapy and you will probably get a negative response. They may even look at you strangely. It is a pity that hydrotherapy (water therapy) is not yet widely accepted in mainstream medicine.

According to the statistics from Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 5% of the Americans suffer from depression. To address this increasingly common and pressing problem, medical scientists endeavour in looking for alternatives to prescriptions for antidepressants.

Now imagine if taking a cold shower was the answer. I can picture you shuddering if you live in the northern hemisphere and detect a certain amount of interest if you live near the Equator! You may think I am talking nonsense. But some interesting studies show that patients suffering from anxiety and depression were actually helped by simply taking a cooler, I mean cold, shower.

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Cold water is beneficial for overall health

From winter swimmers and people taking part in properly organized medical trials, we realize an interesting fact–our bodies react to cold water and love it. People with the habit of swimming in cold water and taking cold showers coincidentally reported improved mood, less stress, more energy and pain relief from rheumatism.

How does cold water help with depression?

According to Dr. Nikolai Shevchuk, we need to be exposed to more thermal stress. He states that we need to be exposed to cold water shock treatment because that activates beta-endorphin and noradrenaline in the brain. The latter is used in many anti-depressant medications. Here we have a natural process doing the same job without any side effects.

The shock of the cold water is similar to electrical shock treatment in many ways. The electrical impulses travel in large quantities from the nerve endings of the skin to reach the brain. Dr. Shevchuk’s hypothesis is that this reaction can have a beneficial effect on depression. However, more research needs to be done to confirm this.

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As an extra bonus, one research study found that cold showers helped to reduce uric acid levels. If these levels are not kept in check, you might suffer from painful gout and kidney disease.

Another bonus mentioned by Dr. Neil Schultz, a dermatologist, is that our skin will benefit enormously from taking cold showers. By first washing in warm water followed by cold water, you will get rid of redness and puffiness around the eyes. This will definitely put you in a great mood!

The same study found that exposure to cold water also had the effect of increasing gluthathione which is a super antioxidant and helps the other antioxidants to keep performing at the best possible levels. This sort of oxidative reaction can strengthen our resistance to physical, emotional and mental stress.

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How can cold showers help with anxiety?

Researchers from University of Osaka found that cold water bathing had a beneficial effect in reducing the cortisol hormone. This usually kicks into action when stress and anxiety are taking over. Some studies show that it can improve our resilience to stress.

If you are still not convinced, watch the entertaining video on all the health benefits of taking cold showers (7 mins). This should motivate you.

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Here are some tips to help you get started

As with most new activities, you can ease your way into this one. Have your normal shower at a lukewarm temperature. Then start to reduce the temperature gradually for a few minutes. Ideally, you will want to get the temp at 68° F (20° C) and try that also for a few minutes and see how you get on. Remember that you should not abandon the cold shower immediately as that will defeat all the hard work you have done in getting accustomed to that temperature. Once you start getting used to this, remind yourself that you are on this mission for at least a few weeks.

If you suffer from migraines, pain or a heart condition, check with your doctor that it is safe to do this procedure.

If you find that your depression and anxiety are markedly better and your overall health has improved, you will never have a hot shower again. Great savings on meds, water, electricity and there are no side effects at all!

Featured photo credit: Hugh Lunnon/Flickr via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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