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A Case Against Cold Plunges: Why Cold Plunging Is Keeping You Stressed

Posted by Liz Tenuto on

You've probably heard the craze about cold plunges recently. And while research does show that cold plunges do have benefits to some, we strongly do not recommend cold plunges for others. 👇🏼

In the pursuit of wellness, many people turn to various practices, and one trend that has gained popularity is cold plunging. While the invigorating effects of submerging oneself in icy water are celebrated by certain folks, a closer look reveals that this practice may not be suitable for everyone, especially those living with chronic stress.

In fact, cold plunging could potentially exacerbate the very issues it aims to alleviate.

The Nervous System's Role in Stress

Living with prolonged stress can take a toll on the nervous system, trapping it in a perpetual state of fight or flight. The fight or flight response is a survival mechanism hardwired into our biology. It prepares the body to face imminent danger by releasing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. But for individuals experiencing chronic stress, this mechanism becomes a persistent companion, affecting overall well-being.

And cold plunging, often seen as a form of self-care, can inadvertently interfere with the body's attempts to return to a state of balance.

Misleading Signals to the Nervous System

The crux of the issue lies in the body's inability to distinguish between intentional cold plunging for self-care and an accidental plunge into icy waters. When subjected to cold temperatures, the nervous system receives a signal akin to a survival situation, urging it to stay in fight or flight mode. This miscommunication can be counterproductive, especially for individuals who are already struggling with stress-related imbalances.

The Immediate Feel-Good Factor

Many enthusiasts of cold plunging report an immediate sense of euphoria and well-being after the icy experience. However, this positive feeling may be deceptive. The body, in its survival-mode response, releases a surge of stress hormones, creating a physiological illusion of having narrowly escaped danger. This temporary relief masks the underlying issues and may contribute to a cycle of stress and relief that fails to address the root causes of chronic stress.

Exacerbating Stress Hormones and Health Issues

For those dealing with high stress levels on a daily basis, engaging in activities like cold plunging can inadvertently raise stress hormones even further. This additional stress burden may contribute to inflammation, sleep disturbances, gut issues, and cognitive dysfunction, further compounding the challenges faced by individuals stuck in a perpetual fight or flight mode.

Survival Mode: The Unintended Consequence

In essence, cold plunging, while touted as a means of enhancing well-being, is inadvertently keeping you in a survival mode. And this perpetuation of the fight or flight response can hinder the body's natural ability to return to a state of rest and recovery, ultimately counteracting the intended benefits of relaxation and stress reduction in the first place.

Recognizing the potential harm cold plunging can inflict on you if you're living with chronic stress is the first step in breaking the cycle. And exploring alternative practices that promote relaxation without triggering the fight or flight response becomes paramount in supporting your body toward genuine healing.

Ditch The Cold Plunge For Somatic Exercises

In light of the potential pitfalls associated with cold plunging for individuals already burdened by chronic stress, it becomes imperative to explore alternative avenues for well-being. And somatic exercises offer a promising approach. Focusing on re-establishing neural pathways within your nervous system that guide your body back to a state of homeostasis, somatic exercises are a less invasive (and less uncomfortable!) way to start a healing journey.

Unlike the temporary relief provided by cold plunging, somatic exercises target the root causes of chronic stress by fostering a mindful connection between the mind and body. Through intentional movement and awareness, these exercises encourage a recalibration of the nervous system, helping you step out of your fight or flight mode. 

Start a 30-day course today to ditch the cold plunge and stay warm with somatic exercises!