I love ice baths.
I’d happily marry one if I could, such is the feelgood factor they bestow upon me.
The fear can be crippling just before you dip your hairy wee toe in, but after 5 minutes when you get out, you enter into some mad state of euphoria, trust me on this one.
Let’s give you a quick hisotry lesson, run through the benefits then tell you how to do it.
And yes, I am teaching you how to take a bath…
Let’s talk a little bit about Ice baths shall we?
It’s as simple as it sounds, just get a bath that is ice cold. You can fill a tub entirely with ice if you’re crazy, you can fill it half with cold water and half with ice or you can just use the ice cold water.
I’ll be straight with you, I’ve just been using the ice cold water and that is more than enough to shrink your gonads inside your body.
Sometimes I’ll pop a bag of ice in with me but to reap the benefits, I’d wager the cold water does the trick.
Do you want a quick history lesson? No?!
Doesn’t matter, still gonna give you one.
Cold water immersion has been around since the dawn of time itself, with loads of different civilisations giving it a go – the Romans, Ancient Egyptians and more recently – sort of, the Victorians.
In The Victorian era, cold water therapy was prescribed for just about any ailment you could think of, be it hysteria (whatever that meant) or the flu.
People rated it.
And so they should have.
Cold Water therapy has come full circle and is now back in fashion thankfully, with Paula Radcliffe (famous for being a world class marathon runner, infamous for taking a poo at the side of the road during one of her races) attributing her 2002 Olympic gold to cold therapy – barmy.
What are the benefits?
The list is basically infinite when it comes to the benefits of taking ice baths. It offers even more than my trusty favourite, the cold shower.
Euphoria & Natural energy
This is without doubt my favourite byproduct of an ice bath. You get a sense of euphoria that’s extremely hard to match.
When you step outta da tub, you feel like you’re floating 3 inches off the ground – it really is heavenly.
Do some Wim Hof breathing beforehand and you’ve got quite the potent 1-2 combo for a drug-free morning high.
Let’s call it; Wake and Lake (lake is the only water-based word I could think of to replace bake – maybe it’ll catch on, who knows – #WakeAndLake).
Reduce stress, depression and anxiety
This is such a key benefit to consistent ice baths. They can actually help to alleviate symptoms of all 3 of these potent mental illnesses.
I can become riddled with stress really easily and I have no idea why but I find it can be kept well managed when I am taking cold showers and ice baths regularly.
This is due to the fact that when you plunge yourself deep into cold water, you cant think about anything else but breathing and the sensation on your body.
You become instantly present and it feels good. Your mind becomes empty and that immediate lift you get really gives some mental clarity to your day, trust me.
I like to do an ice bath in the morning, do a workout, go in the sauna, steam room then the plunge pool (if your gym has these – make use of them!), have a cold shower, meditate and do some Wim Hof breathing. This will all usually be done by about 2pm, meaning the rest of the day I can relax with a quiet mind.
I’m well aware that this sounds like some optimal guru parody but all of those activities have been clinically proven to alleviate stress, depression and anxiety and I know for a fact that doing them keeps all 3 at bay for me.
It is especially important in today’s climate that you take care of your noggin as well as your physical state, so doing a combination of physical activities like the ones I have outlined above is a double edged sword in terms of its efficacy at improving both the mind and body.
Stepping into an ice cold bath every single day builds major mental fortitude. The willpower to force yourself out of your comfort zone every day will have a positive effect on your overall willpower.
I am notoriously terrible with my self-control and willpower but about 3 weeks after I started regularly doing cold immersion I noticed I was snacking less on garbage and I had managed to stick consistently to my 5am wake ups.
I think it’s a case of not wanting to waste your day now that you’ve done something so difficult if you get what I mean?
Say for instance, you take a big fat ice bath in the morning, do a bit of meditation and Wim Hof breathing – you don’t then want to break the chain by having a snickers for breakfast or drinking so much Guinness that you poo your pants.
How to do it
Ideally, you’d want to do this in the morning or if you’re at home, when you hit the afternoon slump around 2-3pm. I tend to do it in the morning as I wake up around 5am and need something severe straight away to wake me from my zombie-like state.
Fill the bath up so that when you get in and lie down, only your head will be poking out. This way, your full body is getting hit with that cold ass h2o.
I tend to put my feet in first (like anyone was going to dive into their bath head first…) and just stand there and take 5 deep breaths to brace myself for the onslaught of feels about to come my way – I highly recommend this step.
Then lower yourself in and sit in the water for another 15 deep breaths. This acclimatises the majority of your body to the cold.
Once you’ve taken your 15 breaths, it’s time to lower yourself down into the lying position. This takes major stones – it’s okay if you wuss out the first few times. But if you feel like going the full 9 yards, dump yourself back and let the water flow over you.
You’ll feel like screaming – do so if you wish. After a few sharp inhalations, you’ll actually get used to it and the water won’t even feel that cold at all.
You may also get some numbness but that’s all part of the fun – obviously if you start to feel too weird, get out. I won’t be held responsible for you drowning in a tub full of your own filth you animal.
Anyway, take another 30 breaths and then dunk your head under briefly before getting out. This will give you a final shock and if you weren’t already awake before that, you certainly will be after it.
Get yourself out of the tub and get dried. You’ll feel instantly better. Literally as soon as you stand up out of that water you’ll feel like a new person.
Take a look in the mirror and more than likely, your skin will be pink as anything and it’ll feel tight – in a strangely rather good way.
Put your clothes on, feel on top of the world and get out there to smash whatever goals you may have.
That sounded a bit GaryVee didn’t it lol.
The sentiment still stands though. An ice bath will set you up for success in whatever you do, I don’t care if anyone disagrees with me they’re all wrong and stink because they didn’t take a bath.
Ice baths – a potentially life altering (in a good way) change that you can make to your daily routine.
You’ll experience a whole load of benefits, the only thing you need is a honking great set of cojones to face up to that cold every single day.
Trust me though, it is worth it a million times over.