I know that cold showers are all the rage at the moment, and are being suggested and recommended everywhere for anxiety and mental health benefits. So, let me preface this by sharing firstly, that as with anything and everything - you are a unique individual - and something that works for one person, may not work or feel good or right, for you. I believe in a truly holistic approach for everyone.
The benefits of cold showers have been shown increasingly, to be effective for a lot of people for many reasons, not only anxiety and mental health. They can increase endorphins - the 'feel good' hormones that elevate our mood, and hence, can reduce anxiety as well as depression. They can help with metabolism - which can aid in digestion and weight loss. They can improve circulation, and may be beneficial for injuries (acute injuries I should add, and not necessarily chronic pain. They can improve our immune system - cold water can stimulate leukocytes which are white blood cells that help fight colds and flu. And they can bring a general feeling of optimal wellbeing, and increased energy. This is true for many people. But not for all.
It's always important to remember that as with everything, what works for someone, may not work for someone else. We are as unique as our finger prints and I always am passionate about a truly holistic approach. Even more, I will add, when we talk about supporting anxiety and any mental health issues. It's just so important to take a holistic, personalised, trusted and safe approach.
You might try cold showers and really notice the benefits for you, if you have stress or anxiety. Or you may try them, and they just don't feel good or right for you. And this is okay. And if they don't, please don't berate yourself or feel like you are failing. We can often be drawn to new things, or see how others are loving and finding the benefits of things - and feel discouraged if we don't feel the same. Anxiety is unique to us all, and there many 'generalised' suggestions we can take on board, but remembering always, that you are a unique individual. What supports someone else with anxiety, may not be what truly supports you.
There are so many things we can do to support ourselves through stress and anxiety - to improve our mood and support our mental and emotional wellbeing (and whole wellbeing) - and cold showers are just one thing, of so many.
If you're trying anything new, and you're feeling defeated or deflated as it's not matching up to what you expected, you're not feeling the results, or feeling worse, or you're comparing your own experience with anxiety, to someone else - this is all counterproductive to you and your own healing journey.
By all means, try new things, educate yourself as to why things are having beneficial results and see if it's something that might feel good, and reach out to a health professional (like me) to see if we think it could be good for you - or not.
And I want to make special mention, that if you have an underlying health condition along with anxiety - such as a heart condition, PTSD, chronic illness or chronic pain - cold showers may not be the best choice for you, even with the benefits mentioned above - it still may not be good for you. Or, it may be best to start very slowly, and ease yourself into things - and have some advice along the way.
Cold water can be an abrupt shock to the body, and it may take some time for our bodies to adjust. How we adjust to this shock is an individual response. For some, the response may be to breathe deeply, and others, the shock may feel too much and even increase anxiety. This happens, and I know this from speaking to many who have experienced this.
If this is you, and you're really not feeling the benefits, but the opposite to be true - please listen to yourself and to your body - and choose what is right for you. This is the same with every healing modality we try for ourselves.
The cold water causes blood vessels to constrict, blood pressure and heart rate to go up, and this can cause stress on the heart - this 'may' be a reason why sensations can increase - why some people don't feel the benefits but instead, more stress and anxiety, more pain (especially nerve pain) and any conditions that might worsen with stimulation of our sympathetic nervous system. So, caution and discernment is always so important - as with everything.
This is a gentle way I encourage you to try cold showers, if it's something that you want to explore and are curious about -
Don't just jump straight into a cold shower, but start with your normal temperature of showering and let yourself relax into that. And then at the end, turn the temperature down to cool for a few moments and a minute, and then a little colder for another few moments and a minute. See how this feels, breathe into this and through this, and notice and become aware of the sensations and how you can either get used to it and even relax into it, or notice if it doesn't feel comfortable or you feel more stressed or anxious or any increased pain.
Learn to trust yourself and your body and how it feels for you. Try it for a few days, and if you notice benefits, that's a great thing for you. But if you don't - I cannot encourage you enough, to not feel deflated or to think 'why does this work for someone and not for me', but rather re-frame into a knowing of yourself as a unique individual and trust in yourself and your body, and in knowing there are other ways that will best support you, in a more true way for your whole wellbeing.
Remember too, that just as some feel the benefits of cold showers, others feel the benefits and love for warmth and hot showers too. Or a beautiful soothing warm bath. I know personally for myself, after going for a swim, it is just so relaxing and feels good for my body and for my mood, to have a warm shower and to relax into this. And there are reasons too, why hydrotherapy is supportive, especially if you live with an autoimmune condition or chronic pain - whist it is true that cold water can decrease inflammation, the warmth of hydrotherapy water allows rehabilitation and movement of joints in a far more relaxed and gentle way.
Knowing yourself if the best thing you can possibly do for your whole wellbeing. And this comes with trust, with connecting deeply within yourself, and really learning and knowing ways to listen to what it is that feels good and right for you, as a unique and beautiful human being.
And do reach out for holistic support, as this is what I am deeply passionate about, with all the modalities I bring and combine together for holistic wellbeing support - learn more about working together here.
PS. If you would like to experience a beautiful and supportive meditation to help bring ease and calm, through anxiety - you can sign up to receive this 'Soothing Calm' meditation, here.
Katie Jane is a Holistic Therapist, Life Coach, Health Coach, Nutritionist, Naturopath, Meditation teacher, writer and author. Katie has been working in the wellness industry for over 15 years, in private practice and online, and brings all of these qualifications and skills, along with her own lived experiences through challenges, changes and transitions. Her approach to life and wellbeing is truly holistic and unique for each individual. She supports and coaches clients to make powerful changes, to feel calm through uncertainty and change, to embrace self care as a way of being, and to thrive through life transitions.