What if there were one quick and simple thing you could do every morning that helped you feel less anxious, eased chronic pain, sped up weight loss, and even reversed aging? Sound too good to be true? It might not be! Research shows that turning your shower temperature down a few degrees can actually do all of these things, and more. Read on to find out how cold showers helped one woman end her panic attacks — and how they can help you, too.
An essential worker’s anxiety.
Working as a nurse’s aide in nursing homes during the pandemic, 54-year-old Deb Poore suffered from crippling anxiety. But to her great surprise, a simple change in her morning routine made all the difference.
Dressed in hot, cumbersome protective gear, including an N95 mask, Poore was finishing her shift at the COVID unit in the Omaha, Nebraska, nursing home, where she was working as a traveling nurse’s aide. Suddenly, her breathing became labored and heavy and she began sweating. I’m hyperventilating, she panicked.
Deb had noticed her anxiety growing as the pandemic unfolded. Taking a moment to do some abdominal breathing, she managed to calm herself down. But as she got back to work, she told herself, These panic attacks are getting worse. I have to find a way get my stress under control.
Searching for a natural cure.
Having used holistic remedies for other ailments, Deb decided to look into natural treatments for her stress. That’s when she remembered an article she’d read about cold showers having a calming effect on the body, and she began searching for more information.
Deb found that a lot of research had been done on “cold water therapy” and read that, along with improving metabolism and circulation, it activates beta-endorphins and noradrenaline in the brain, improving mood and quelling anxiety. Moreover, it helps reduce the production of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.
Deb cringed at the thought of stepping into a bone-chilling blast of water, but she was desperate for help. And, reading that it takes only 60 to 90 seconds in cold water to reap the benefits, she decided to at least give it a try.
A cool remedy.
The next day, at the end of her morning shower, Deb took a deep breath and turned off the warm water, letting only ice cold water wash over her. I can hardly stand it! she shivered, turning off the faucet after just 10 seconds. But as she was drying off, Deb noticed she felt more alert.
So the next morning, she ended her shower with another douse of cold water, staying under the frigid flow for a bit longer. She continued every morning, building up to a minute, then two. As weeks passed, she was surprised to notice that her mood and energy level kept improving and her anxiety level dropped. Deb was especially delighted that she was no longer experiencing panic attacks at work. Thrilled, she shared what she was doing with her doctor, who acknowledged the many health perks of cold water therapy.
Today, cold showers remain part of Deb’s regular morning routine. “They are so invigorating,” she says. “My mood is more consistently upbeat. I have more energy and my anxiety is so much better, at work and overall. I haven’t had a single panic attack. It’s good to know there are simple — and free — methods for managing stress and anxiety.”
More health benefits of cold showers …
• Slows aging — Ending a shower with a quick hit of cold water is a mild body stressor that activates an internal self-cleaning system to nudge your cells to age in reverse, asserts Frank Lipman, M.D., author of The New Rules of Aging Well.
• Speeds slimming — Showering under water as hot as you can stand for 90 seconds, then switching to cold water for another 90 seconds (and repeating up to seven times) boosts lymph flow to help trigger the release of trapped fat, says Jamé Heskett, M.D.
• Fights fatigue — Brief exposure to a cold shower instantly invigorates, says Dr. Lipman. In fact, studies show a 45-second blast boosts energy and focus by 50 percent, and is proven to reduce even chronic energy-sapping pain by 62 percent — for hours!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.