"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone" Neale Donald Walsch
Did you know we really limit our growth if we stay fixed inside our comfort zone? That’s right, if we remain inside our comfort zone, everything there is already known and experienced – so there’s no opportunity for growth.
We could actually say that our comfort zone is our “UN-comfortable zone” as we can stagnate and experience frustration and procrastination here.
In order to grow and step into our fullest potential, it’s essential we access our courage and step outside of our comfort zones. It’s here that we soak up learnings and expansion and become a wiser, more experienced version of ourselves - better equipped to navigate life’s challenges.
In this article we’ll explore the what, why and how of cold water immersion therapy and look at the famous “Wim Hof method.”
Introducing Cold Water Immersion therapy
What is it exactly?
Cold water therapy is an immersion process where we allow our body to spend time in cold water that's below 14 degrees Celsius. Cold showers and ice baths activates the body's natural healing abilities and helps relieve chronic illness.
Where does cold water immersion originate from?
For centuries, cold temperatures have been used by humans for therapeutic, health and sporting recovery purposes. Cold water immersion is an ancient tradition dating back to as early as 3500 BC where cold was used for therapeutic purposes as referenced in an ancient Egyptian medical text entitled “Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus.” The ancient Greeks 700-480 BC, practised “thermalism” using water at various temperatures to help ease muscle fatigue and other health ailments. And in Russia it’s reported that swimming in ice holes for health benefits was a popular tradition from as early as 1525.
Fast forward to today and cold water therapy has gained serious popularity because it’s linked to numerous health benefits, and is now an accepted treatment for acute injuries and post-exercise recovery. Heralded by Wim Hof, continued research shows that cold water therapy is safe and effective to assist with chronic diseases and to boost our general well-being.
WHY is Cold Water Therapy so good for us?
In basic terms - when we're immersed in cold water, our blood vessels constrict so there's less blood flow to that area, meaning there's less swelling and inflammation, which helps with pain relief. It’s been proven scientifically that cold water immersion helps reduce muscle inflammation, as the cold temperature lowers the damage of affected tissue, reducing further swelling, making it perfect to improve post-exercise recovery.
The cold water effect on our bodies boosts our cardiovascular circulation – supporting a healthy heart, a strong immune system, well-balanced mental health, an improved sensation of wellbeing and a high level of energy. Other benefits include better sleep, heightened focus and willpower, balanced hormones and the release of endorphins in our brains, that elevate our moods.
Cold water immersion supports with weight loss, as the cold temperatures stimulate the activation of brown fat tissue which provides fat loss, helping your body to generate heat and burn off excess body fat. The cold exposure stimulates our vagus nerve, which increases our parasympathetic response, the “rest and digest” branch of our autonomic nervous system. This helps us manage stress, anxiety, depression and gut issues.
Introducing the “Wim Hof Method”
Who is Wim Hof and what’s his story?
Aged 63, Wim Hof is a Dutch extreme athlete, known as 'The Iceman'. As a result of his “Wim Hof method”, he’s broken a number of “cold exposure” records including: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts, running a barefoot marathon on ice and snow in the Arctic, and standing in a container covered with ice cubes for 112 minutes!
Interestingly, for many years Wim’s incredible achievements were disregarded as a “circus act” and thought scientifically impossible. This all changed for him in 2011 when scientists at Radboud University performed a study on him which showed he was able to voluntarily influence his autonomic nervous system.
They also ran a controlled experiment to later prove the powers of the “Wim Hof Method”. The study involved followers of the Wim Hof Method and non-followers both being exposed to a type of bacteria, while being closely monitored. The participants that practiced the Wim Hof Method showed an increased immune response and fewer symptoms of diseases. Committed to spreading the health benefits of his method, Wim continues to submit himself for scientific study and trains Wim Hof Method facilitators all over the world.
How does the “Wim Hof Method” work?
The power of Wim’s technique lies in the combination of three pillars used together: Breathing + Cold water exposure + Mindset.
Pillar One – Breath
Many of us are unaware of the tremendous potential available to us when we practise conscious breathing ie: “breathwork”.
The breathwork technique Wim shares invites heightened oxygen levels into the body. It includes powerful inhalation, relaxed exhalation, and prolonged breath holds. The specialised breathing technique is practised prior to the cold water immersion therapy and helps to prepare the body and mind for the experience.
Pillar Two – Cold Water exposure
The guidance is to stay in the ice baths for 2-3 minutes to get full benefits, however you can leave whenever you’re ready. The goal is to deeply relax in the ice bath, using mind management to access inner peace, whilst in the cold water.
Pillar Three – Mind management
Applying the cold water therapy with the conscious breathing technique requires us to be determined and dedicated and increase our willpower. Practising conscious breathing allows you to witness your habitual thoughts and emotions without attaching to them. This helps foster willpower to be able to cope better with life’s adversities.
Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone and into an Ice Bath?
As part of the 2023 NZ Retreat in stunning Queenstown, we’ll be offering our delegates the opportunity to experience cold water immersion therapy utilising a trained cold-water therapy facilitator to guide them through the process. For an added extra special twist, this experience will take place at Lake Wakatipu, which is incredibly clean and a perfect 8 degrees Celsius!
Are you curious how your body, mind and spirit would benefit from experiencing this ground-breaking therapy? Is there a readiness within you to step forward and discover a more expanded version of yourself, to meet your limits and at the same time soak up incredible health benefits?
We are all stronger than we think we are.
We’d love to have you join us for our 2023 NZ Retreat in October 2023, and witness you gift yourself this opportunity to access courage, train your mind, breathe consciously and take with you the methodology, to be used time and time again on your journey forward into optimal health.
Find out more about The Design Coach: who we are and what we stand for.
Stay well, and believe in you!