In 2019, we’re exploring our energy. How it affects us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We’ve hooked up with a series of experts who will set an experiment every month to help us discover a new way of managing our energy. Throughout November we’re going to be exploring the impact cold water immersion has on our energy, by taking on a series of cold water challenges.
The physical and mental benefits of taking an icy plunge have long been celebrated; from Victorians gathering in public baths, to the lido boom of the early twentieth century. Science now backs this up with studies suggesting that there are lasting positive effects of a bracing outdoor dip...
It promotes a sense of health and well-being.
Every morning, Tony Robbins wakes up and plunges into a 57-degree Fahrenheit pool of water. It’s not exactly a gentle way to wake up, but he’s not just doing it to shock himself into action each day, it’s to activate his body’s natural healing powers that can relieve the symptoms of many medical conditions.
It’s been proven to increase our tolerance to stress.
When we get into cold water our body’s fight or flight mechanism kicks in and the more we do it the less the severity of the initial stress reaction is for us. But the real magic is that our reaction to other stressful events – from big presentation at work to bungee jumping at the weekend - is also reduced.
It creates a post-cold water high…!
The mix of exercise and cold water exposure triggers a release of dopamine, the body's feel good hormone. And if you take a dip with a buddy or in a group, the chance to share and compare your experience with like-minded people intensifies the experience.
So, with history and science behind us on this one we’ve got no excuse to not get out there and discover the bubbling rush of cold water immersion.
Our partners for this month’s experiment are the awesome Wild Swimming Brothers. Jack, Calum and Robbie have been swimming together their whole lives, and have never lost the sense of wonder, excitement and relief that getting into open water brings. Their latest book, Swim Wild tells the epic story of their swimming feats, from tackling the 145km River Eden to setting the world record for swimming in the Arctic. It’s safe to say we’re in good hands...
The brothers have set us a series of challenges to take on this month:
- Challenge 1: For the last half a minute of your daily shower turn the temperature down fully for a blast of cold water.
- Challenge 2: Go for a cold water wetsuit swim (check out the tips below).
- Challenge 3: Take a full length cold shower, once a week.
- Challenge 4: Go for a cold water dunk in skins (no wetsuit) – this can be in a lake, the sea or a plunge pool/ barrel. Practice deep breathing to help acclimatise.
- Challenge 5: Do a week of full length cold showers – no warm water at all!
- Challenge 6: Go for a cold water skins swim (no wetsuit).
Bonus Challenge 7 (for the brave): The ice barrel: Leave out a barrel to fill up with rainwater. In the winter months the surface will freeze but if it’s not that cold yet topping it up with ice cubes will work just as well. Jump in for at least one minute. Use deep breathing to help acclimatise.
To help us take these challenges on, the brothers have shared their top tips for things to do before getting into the cold water:
- Pick out your warmest clothes and favourite post-swim treats. Warm, stodgy foods are perfect for carb reloading and reheating (cake, sausage rolls...) to counteract the post-swim drop in body temperature.
- Recruit at least one friend for safety and to regulate each other’s acclimatisation when in open water. A blast of cold water therapy is always best when shared!
- Splashing water over your face and shoulders before the plunge helps to ease the entry.
- Don’t delay the inevitable. After a few deep breathes lower yourself to chest level. Take some time to breathe and allow your body to react to the cold.
- Go your own way. Cold water swimming is about total freedom. It’s a chance to escape what Roger Deakins called the ‘official version of things’.
A huge thanks to The Wild Swimming Brothers for putting this plan together for us. We’re all super excited about a month of cold water immersion. And for those looking out of the window thinking it looks a bit cold out there for a swim, it could be worse, we could be doing this one in Jan!
You can find out more about the Wild Swimming Brother at their website, you can buy their book, Swim Wild here and watch this great short film below that tells the story of how they discovered cold water and the powerful impact it's had on their energy.
We’ll be reporting back throughout the month on how the experiment’s going for us and how the impact cold water immersion is having on our energy. Follow our progress on LinkedIn and Twitter and share any pics or stories of your own cold water experiences.
We’d love to know how it feels for you.
The Upping Your Elvis Team