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5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

You probably see cold showers as dreadful things that you’ve never put yourself through of your own free will; rather, they’re forced on you by circumstances beyond your control. The jerks in your dorm or apartment used up all the hot water or some inconsiderate person may have flushed the toilet before you were finished bathing. Ticked off and uncomfortable, you become irate at these people for making you have to endure this terrible thing… but what if I told you that you should thank them instead? If a person makes your shower go from hot to cold, they are doing a solid favor for your health and waistline. I invite you to consider five surprising benefits of cold showers!

There is nothing special about hot showers

Before we get into the actual benefits of cold showers, let’s establish the simple fact that hot showers are a luxury and not a necessity. Throughout most of human history, people had to bathe in whatever water was available to them. If you’ve ever swum in a lake, you can probably remember that said water often happened to be cold. The Greeks invented heating systems for public baths in the 1st century BC, but interestingly enough, many Greeks chose to continue bathing in cold water due to the health benefits.

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1. Cold showers burn fat

There are two kinds of fat in your body: white fat and brown fat. White fat is the bad guy (think the Joker) and brown fat is the good guy (think Batman). White fat is the body fat we all know and struggle to get rid of. When we consume more calories than our body needs to function and we don’t burn those calories for energy, they are stored as white fat, which tends to accumulate at your waist, lower back, neck, and thighs. Brown fat is the good guy you might have never even heard of, and its function is to generate heat to keep your body warm. Here’s the good news: when brown fat is activated due to extreme cold, it burns calories to keep you warm, which could provide a helpful assist in your weight loss plan. How much of an assist? Scandinavian researchers found that exposure to cold temperatures increased the metabolic rate of brown fat by fifteen fold, which could help a person drop nine pounds in a year if sustained.

2. Cold showers boost recovery after exercise

Athletes often take ice baths after vigorous training do reduce soreness. You don’t have to take it that far, but you can obtain a similar benefit with a quick cold shower after your training sessions. Maybe dropping a pencil or walking upstairs won’t be quite so agonizing with a little dose of cold after all of that running.

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3. Cold showers increase mood and alertness

Who doesn’t feel a bit groggy when they take that first step out of bed? This is something everyone struggles with, but if you’d like to put some pep in your step first thing in the a.m., take a cold shower before you go to work. When cold water pours over your body, your breathing deepens in response to the shock of the cold (this is your body trying to keep you warm by increasing overall oxygen intake). Your heart rate will also increase, resulting in a rush of blood through your body that will help you get energized for the day.

4. Cold showers strengthen immunity and circulation

Remember how I mentioned that cold showers speed up your metabolic rate, which helps you lose fat? The increase of this rate activates your immune system, which releases virus-fighting white blood cells that will help you get sick less frequently. Cold showers also increase your overall blood circulation, which can help you avoid hypertension and the hardening of arteries.

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5. Cold showers give you attractive hair and skin

If you’d like to reduce the appearance of acne, cold showers could do the job. Hot water dries out your skin, while cold water tightens your cuticles and pores, preventing them from getting clogged. You can also use cold showers for shinier, more attractive hair that your partner can’t resist playing with. Cold water will close your cuticle, making it less likely dirt can accumulate in your scalp. For further reading that will help you improve your skin appearance, check out these four skin care hacks for people who think they’ve tried everything.

Put it in Practice

If you have read any of the James Bond books, you surely have noticed his unique take on showers. Bond, tough guy extraordinaire, started with hot water, but turned the temperature down to freezing cold for the very end of his bathing routine. This character quirk is theorized to be a nod to Bond’s Scottish ancestry, since a “hot-to-cold” shower is often referred to as a “Scottish Shower.”

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If you’d like to take advantage of the surprising benefits of cold showers, I’d suggest starting off by emulating Bond’s bathing routine. You could also take an alternating shower by simply switching your water temperature from hot to cold every 10-20 seconds. When you’re feeling brave and have the mental toughness you need to survive the shivering, try a full blast cold shower on for size. Challenge accepted? Come back here and tell me how it goes in the comments.

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Daniel Wallen

Freelance Writer

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Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

“For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

Primal Therapy

Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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How it Started

“During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

“I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

Delving deeper

Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

Some Methods To Practice Screaming

If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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  • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
  • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
  • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
  • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

Scream Sing

Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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  • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
  • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
  • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
  • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
  • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
  • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
  • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

Scream into a pillow

Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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