We often think about breathing practice as a distinct moment in time similar to meditation. You sit down in a comfy spot and settle into your breathing practice for the next few minutes. If you’ve got your breathing practice down as a daily routine then congrats! That’s pretty great, and you should feel fantastic for slotting some self-care into your everyday life.
Of course, there might be another way to integrate your breathing practice into your routine that could pay far greater dividends if you stick to it. The part of the day we’re talking about is when you have a shower. Now, it’s safe to assume that everyone has a shower in the morning before going to work, right? Regardless, this technique relies on the idea of not just taking a shower- but a cold shower.
If that sent a shiver down your spine then good, it was meant to. In today’s blog, we’ll be exploring how combining yogic breathing with cold showers in the morning can help alleviate stress and anxiety while building up your mind and body to become more resilient at the same time.
If you regularly suffer from chronic stress or anxiety, you’re probably familiar with a few of the common symptoms: a quickened heart rate, breathlessness, and feeling restless. Other common symptoms include clammy hands, sweating, and increased body temperature.
Symptoms of anxiety and stress often multiply when facing a panic attack, as many people report feeling incapable of breathing and profuse sweating when going through an episode.
In Cold Water
Using a cold shower to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and chronic stress isn’t as insane as it initially sounds. In fact, many of the reasons why we love warm/hot showers are arguably less effective than cold water at reducing anxiety.
When stressed, your body rises in temperature due to an increased heart rate. With a warm shower, your body temperature will likely stay where it is, which doesn’t really help reduce the effects of an episode. Conversely, a cold shower is super effective at bringing your core temperature down, forcing your body to normalize your heart rate and improve oxygen supplies to the brain. This, in turn, improves your overall clarity while releasing tension. Furthermore, cold showers help regulate rates of cortisol in the body while enhancing levels of endorphins.
So, cold showers are already pretty great, but a proper breathing technique can take those benefits even further when dealing with chronic anxiety.
First, when you have a cold shower, make sure to step directly into the cold water with no preamble. The immediate feeling of cold water to a warm body will instantly shock the body into action. However, by applying a deep breathing technique, such as square breathing, you can educate the body’s response more positively to the sudden change in temperature.
Think of this as like a miniature “training course” for the mind and body, where you can reprogram how your body responds to sudden changes and stressful situations, ensuring a more effective response that doesn’t involve releasing excessive amounts of cortisol.
For more information regarding how to manage your breathing for a more effective lifestyle, visit our other blogs here at The Exhale to get the latest tips and tricks. For free guided breathing exercises that you can take anywhere, try out the Breathwrk app here.
And remember: Breathe Better, Live Better.