The Ultimate Natural Shower
My husband enters the room, having been awake for an hour already (he is a morning person) gently rouses me with his hand on my shoulder and a kiss to my forehead. He places a freshly brewed coffee on the bedside table and announces that he is making breakfast.
I flutter my eyes open and am welcomed to the sunrise of another beautiful day as he has raised the blind to flood the room with morning light. Sleepily I take a sip of water on my bedside as I move towards the shower.
The warm water washes over my body. The pressure of the water massaging my head and soothing my shoulders, I consciously draw my shoulder blades back and down away from ears, releasing the tension from the previous days workout. I wash my body, set my intention for the day ahead, and move through my routine stretches that limber my body into action.
Before I can create a myriad of excuses, my heart takes control over my mind and abruptly turns the tap to full cold. It takes approximately 4 seconds before the chilling water hits my skin and the initial gasp reaction is instantly controlled with conscious breathing. I tingle all over as the water hits my head and washes over my body. My skin tightens closing off the pores and to retain heat to my organs, the chilly water hits my skin like little needles penetrating the psyche; the masochist in me loves it. Truth be told, it’s a learned effort.
I love the resilience of my body and mind being built with this simple daily routine. The power that is created from breath control and the mental override that I am able to practice that will resonate into all areas of my holistic well-being. Strengthening my resolve, connecting body and mind as one.
90 secs is the approximate time I spend in the “chill-out zone”, sometimes more, rarely less. 3 minutes is said to be the optimal time, something that I am working myself up to. I’d prefer a full-body immersion such as the beach or bath but the shower provides a daily opportunity to reap the benefits.
Stepping out of the shower, there is a rush of blood as my circulatory system powers up, delivering fresh oxygenated blood to my extremities, a feeling of warmth, exhilarating, and invigorating.
“Out of life’s school of war—what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.”
Friedrich Nietzsche – Philosopher
So WHY do I put myself through this on a daily basis? Some would call me crazy, I call it empowering.
Our society has more chronic stress and illness despite the leaps and bounds we make in health care, science and understanding longevity and what constitutes optimal health. We are constantly alerted to notifications, workloads, family pressure, societal expectations, and food that require a science degree to read the labels.
We live in air-conditioned homes, drive temperature-controlled cars, rug up and avoid the outdoors in winter, live in air-conditioned environments in summer and try to chase the constant feeling of comfort, avoiding the seasonal benefits of nature's elements. If we feel any discomfort, many turn to food, alcohol, or Netflix to drown out the feelings. Cumulative this creates a perpetuating cycle of avoidance, chasing comfortability and ill-ness.
I believe, as do many scholars, athletes, and scientists that exposure to the uncomfortable, creates strength more than metaphysical. Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable may just be our best bet to overcome chronic stress and the volatile hormonal cocktail that is ever-present in our bodies.
"It brought me a sense of tremendous power within. A control. I was looking for that. That's the way it all began."
- Wim Hof
With chronic stress, our bodies are constantly flooded with norepinephrine, cortisol, and adrenaline. Our bodies become accustomed to them, building tolerance and letting run rogue. This results in inflammation- aches, and pains/ bone density reduction, immune deficiency, gut/digestive disorders, mental health issues, increased risk of heart disease, loss of libido, and in some cases loss of period in women and reduced sperm count in men.
Acute stressors refer to the hormesis process, a two-phase response to a toxin or a stressor. The initial contact causes injury to the body with the subsequent reaction leading to adaptation, leaving the body in a better condition than it was before.
If the stress that we put our bodies under is short-lived, like exercise, cold showers or hiking in the cold or rain, and we ensure ample time for recovery, the response from our bodies and benefits create a positive outcome; essentially making us more resilient and stronger.
Research shows that the benefits of cold exposure are but not limited to;
· Boost immune system
· Reduce the inflammatory response to stressors
· Improve cognitive function; memory, concentration, creativity, mood and overall psychological wellbeing
· Increase sports performance and recovery times
· Relieve stress and build a toolkit of resilience, determination and performance that translates into all aspects of holistic well being
· More energy and increased libido- more energy for sex
· Improved quality of sleep and in some case extended time
· Improved willpower (aka superhuman)
· Assists depression and anxiety symptomology- Activates parasympathetic nervous system
· Assists with auto-immune, arthritis, asthma and Ms suffers
· Improve your mind-body connection for better wellbeing
· Lowers blood pressure
· Increased circulation
· Increased metabolism and fat burning
· Improves pain threshold
To claim the power over the mind, a cold shower burst is an optimal strategy to increase your cognitive and physical performance as a human. Live longer, better, and reduce your stressors naturally. Are you a game?
I've included some links below to the Wim Hof website where you can read up on the scientific research that backs such claims. Better yet try it for yourself and feel the difference.
Throughout the year, Holistic HIkes will be running water therapy sessions at Mornington Peninsula beaches to delve into the benefits and experience first hand the healing benefits combined with saltwater for optimal human performance.
Image: A recent Holistic Hikes retreat - Water therapy session
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24799686 A 2014 study observed benefits that radically controlled the test subjects' adaption to the cold exposure with profound benefits.
https://www.wimhofmethod.com/science Read up on the research from the iceman himself