Updated: Oct 20, 2020
For generations, philosophers, religious leaders, and mystics alike have sought a way to overcome the mind, manipulate physiology, and tap into the soul. And one of the people leading this charge in the 21st century is Wim Hof.
Hof has bathed in ice for over an hour and run a marathon in the desert with no water. His namesake breathing method has taken the world by storm—and, according to him, "A cold shower a day keeps the doctor away." And because we're in the throes of flu season and the cold weather is doing nothing to help our aches and pains, we wanted to dig into this cold shower recommendation.
The benefits of a cold shower.
Last year, Hof sat down with mindbodygreen founder and co-CEO, Jason Wachob, and they talked about how to ease into—and eventually even embrace—cold showers (you can listen to the full episode here).
It all started when Hof was just 17. He developed a somewhat interesting hobby: hanging out in ice water. He quickly realized he could control his breath in such a way that allowed him to overcome the sensations, which he said brought him closer to his soul. And thus, the Wim Hof Method was born.
"The cold," Hof says, "is undeniably a great force. It's merciless but righteous."
Beyond that, "cold therapy," or cryotherapy, is known to help reduce inflammation, improve sleep, ease pain, and alleviate anxiety and depression. And if you don't live near a freezing body of water, a cold shower can have similar effects. Some research-backed benefits of cold showers include a boosted immune system, improved mood and alertness, and faster recovery from injury.
How to give it a try.
Cold showers benefit your body and mind. Your best bet, according to him, is to gradually increase the length of your showers, as well as how cold you get them. It obviously won't be super comfortable, but you may find it invigorating (you may not). Hof claims you'll eventually become accustomed and maybe even look forward to your daily dose of cold.
And as Hof insists, the more cold showers you take, the more unshakable your mind will become. "Sometimes we are unhappy because of stress we cannot regulate," he says. But when we learn how to deal with a stressor like freezing cold water, we can apply that strength and concentration to other areas of our life. Or as Hof explains it, "We can be within the eye of the hurricane, without being affected."
So if you're looking for a cool new way to reduce inflammation, along with all the other benefits, give cold showers a try.
If you want to learn more about the mental and physical health benefits related to open water swimming and cold exposure, feel free to join our ICEWIM Facebook group.
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This article was first published on https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/wim-hof-explains-why-he-takes-cold-showers