Ok, you’ve heard all the hype about Cold Therapy and the benefits, including being able to adapt to stress better, increase brown fat activity and dopamine, and help with insulin sensitivity, especially when you shiver (research found here) . And there are more anecdotal benefits too like improved immune health,the lowering of inflammation, and helping with anxiety and depression.
So now you may be interested, and wondering how to get started. It can feel intimidating at first. So we here is how we recommend starting off…
How To Start With Cold Therapy
- When first starting to dip your toes in cold therapy (pun intended), pick a time when your “stress bucket” isn’t overflowing. This means a time when you’ve been getting adequate sleep for a few nights in a row, when you’re feeling healthy and emotionally stable, and more so in your follicular or ovulation phase (for all the ladies). Also – we recommend avoiding a cold plunge or therapy right after a big meal, or if you’re having severe digestive stress, as this could make it worse for some people.
- Do it with people, or right after a workout. Either one will make it more inviting when you’re first starting off. When you’re with people, you have support and accountability to help you actually take action and get you through it. You also get the benefit of being with others and having a sense of community through a hardship – which also shows health benefits. And then after a workout, your body is already warm, and often looking to cool down. If you tend to be a cold person in general, we recommend you get your body temp up a bit to make it feel more doable to start.
- Try short and simple cold showers. Doesn’t have to be ice cold. Doesn’t have to be long. We recommend ending your daily shower with 30 seconds colder water. If need be, you can even alternate between cold and warm for a few minutes – 20 seconds cold, 10 seconds warm (like a Tabata!). Then over the course of a few days, try staying in the cold longer, rotating your body, getting your head and chest in, and/or making the water colder if possible. A great goal is being able to work up to 2-5 minutes, and ending your shower cold.
If you are still unsure about cold therapy, consider going to a spa and trying their cold pool and hot tub. That way you know you have something warm to go to after and can make it more enjoyable to begin with. We are also big fans of heat therapy (like saunas), and many times that can be more inviting for people to start with when it comes to getting uncomfortable.
Final and Very Important Tip!
No matter what your route and journey looks like, remember to always focus on your breath, and give yourself space and grace in the process. Longer exhales, and working to get control of your breath will help you be able to stay in longer and help your body relax more. You can also add in an affirmation to help you get through it. Something like, “I am safe”, “I got this”, or “I can do hard things”.