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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 September 10, 2019

7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

1. Gratitude

Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

Gratitude-Quotes

    2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

    This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

    For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

    What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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    Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

    3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

    This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

    Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

    An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

    Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

    write down goals

      4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

      According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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      There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

      5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

      Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

      Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

      6. Rise Earlier

      The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

      For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

      So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

      Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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      7. Listen to Uplifting Music

      Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

      Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

      It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

      Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

      More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

      Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
      [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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