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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 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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