How to Instantly Lift Your Mood Using Cold Showers

Blue background with cracked crystal ice texture to indicate ice cold water as holistic treatment for depression.
Life can be stressful and overwhelming. What to do when you feel down? It turns out cold showers can be an effective strategy to cheer you up. Here's how...

Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s natural to feel down from time to time. What do you do when you feel down?

 

Over the years, I’ve tried many strategies, including relaxation techniques, working out, reading a book, watching a movie, and calling a friend. One of my favorite strategies is taking cold showers.

 

I know what you are thinking — the initial shock of the cold, the goosebumps, the chattering teeth. Yes, it can be uncomfortable in the beginning. The trick is to go slow and steady.

 

Start with your regular shower routine. When you’re done, try slightly turning down the water temperature for a couple of seconds before shutting off the water. Once you get used to it, try adding a few more seconds of “cold treatment.” When you can withstand ten seconds at a time, lower the water temperature and start the acclimation process again.

 

**DO NOT try cold showers when already feeling sick or cold. Consult your doctor for specific health conditions**

 

My first encounter with cold showers was at a local gym when the water heater stopped working. Sweaty as I was post-workout, I had to get ready for work. It was the shortest shower I’d ever taken in my life.

 

On my commute to work afterward, I felt unusually refreshed and relaxed. My coworkers commented on how perky I was that morning. Since then, I’ve tried swimming in rivers and lakes, and learned to enjoy the cold plunge.

 

A young woman taking a cold outdoor shower to showcase the mental health benefits of cold showers
by robyvannucci

 

What’s so great about cold showers?

 

Healthline published the following evidence-based health benefits of cold showers:

 

Calming itchy skin

Waking you up

Increasing circulation

Reducing muscle soreness post-workout

Potentially boosting weight loss

Glowing hair and skin

 

Studies on Cold Showers’ Benefit on Mental Health

 

One popular holistic treatment method for depression is hydrotherapy. Taking a cold shower for up to 5 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week, was shown to help relieve symptoms of depression in a clinical trial.

 

According to Psychology Today, hydrotherapy is an old-time nature cure to balance the body and mind. Hippocrates believed water therapy “allays lassitude” (physical or mental weakness). “Later, one German water cure from the 1800s often used various applications to help treat disease (Barry and Lewis, 2006).”

 

This is because cold water causes the skin blood vessels to vasoconstrict (tighten up), driving blood from the surface of your body to the core. “Not only does it conserve heat, it also reflexively bathes the brain and vital organs in fresh blood. This movement will bring nutrition, oxygen and also help gently detoxify the area.”

 

For people with depression, cold showers serve as gentle electroshock therapy. The cold water sends many electrical impulses to the brain, jolting your system to increase alertness, clarity, and energy levels. Endorphins, the happiness hormones, are also released during cold showers. This effect leads to feelings of well-being and optimism.

 

Prairie Spine and Pain Institute website mentions one case study about a woman who had experienced anxiety and depression since age 17. At 24 years old, she began a trial program of weekly open water swimming.

 

Over time, her symptoms improved so significantly that she weaned off her medications. A year later, her doctors found that regular swimming kept her depression symptoms at bay.

 

Curious about cold showers? This man chronicled his 30 days of cold shower experience. Give it a try, and see if it works for you.

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Dr. Ivy Ge

Dr. Ivy Ge

Doctor of Pharmacy, author of The Art of Good Enough. She writes to inspire women to design their own fate. Her writings and interviews have been featured on MSNBC, Thrive Global, Working Mother magazine, Parentology, and The Times of India.

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