Icing or Mental Training
I am a strong believer in the power of mind. Strong mind is what makes elite the elite, either in sport, business or life in general. To achieve great results, to brake out of the comfort zone requires at least 101% of effort. Nothing great in the world were achieved without struggle, paint, tears and sweat. Dare to struggle, dare to win.
I will share with you the simple technique that will improve your mental toughness, will make you healthier and will boost you with the energy so you rock your day.
Few facts about your body:
- Your body is tuned to optimally operate within 20-21°C (68-71°F)
- 125,000 km (77,671 mi) of blood vessels running through your body. It’s enough to go around the world 3 times! Just think about that for a sec.
- There are two types of fat in your body: White fat and Brown fat. Brown fat is keeping your body warm by utilizing glucose and fat. Newborn babies don’t shiver as they have a lot of brown fat to keep them warm. People who live in the colder climates have more brown fat than those that are not. By exposing to cold, overweight people loose weight by fueling brown fat with the white one.
When I take ice baths:
My body closes blood flow to less important parts of my body to remain in homeostasis by keeping the core temperature above 35°C (95°F). Blood rushes from the skin and muscles into the organs to keep the body temperature within healthy range. The more cold your body gets, the more blood vessels in my my arms and legs contract to ensure that the heart, liver, kidneys get enough blood to continue working. This is why you may feel burning or tingling sensations in your toes and fingers. By taking a cold shower or ice bath you essentially train your blood vessels to open and close, just like training your muscles.
Known health benefits from exposing your body to cold:
- Improves blood circulation
- Activates brown fat
- Trains you heart and cardiovascular system
- Improves immune system by increasing the amount of leukocytes, which helps fighting against viruses, parasites, bacteria and foreign substances
- Clears your skin and making it soft
- Charges you with energy. Adrenaline and dopamine levels rise instantly, giving you the “energy boost”
- Improves your mood
What do I get from it?
Besides the health benefits outlines above, there are additional reasons I personally found for myself:
- Its a good mental training
- It raises my self-confidence and gives me the sense of accomplishment. A mini-win over my mind
- Speeds up the recovery after training session
- It helps me to clear the mind and fight negative feelings
- I get the sense of stillness and connection of my mind and body
It’s not all just about the cold!
There are two parts of the exercise: breathing and cold. The breathing part is not intended to relax you. It is there to enable you to control your mind and body.
It’s not all just about getting cold!
Ice bath, or cold shower is only the tool that allows you train your mind. Think of it as a mental gym. Just as if I would go to the gym to train my body, I dive into the ice to train my mind.
Step 1. Take contrast showers:
A contrast shower is simple. You just alternate between hot and cold water. The hot water opens your blood vessels and increases blood circulation, and the cold water contracts your blood vessels and decreases blood flow. While on the beginning you wont be able to stay long under the cold water, with time you will get more used to it and will even start to like it. When you open up the cold water, naturally you will start breathing fast. The trick here is to calm your breath by breathing in deeply and exhaling slowly. Control your breathing. Week by week slowly increase the time under the cold shower, and remember the main thing – breathe slowly and deeply. With time the ratio between hot:cold will decrease and you will be able to stay under the cold shower much longer and it won’t shock you as much as it did on the beginning. Practice it in the morning or first part of the day.
Step 2. Take ONLY cold showers:
Now that you’ve been playing with contrast showers for a while, cold water doesn’t feel as cold and you significantly increased the time you spend in the blue zone. It’s time to level up. In the morning, right after you woke up, jump into the cold shower right away. Remember: the trick here is to calm your breath – breathe slowly and deeply. Begin from 60-90 seconds, then step out of the shower and dry your body with a towel as fast as you can. Day by day slowly increase the time under the cold water.
Step 3. Superman Level:
Fill your tub with a cold water. Add the ice. Don’t think, just jump in! The more you think, the less likely you will do it. When you’re in, focus on your breath. As I already mentioned before, deep breathing is the key. If your breathing is fast and shallow, you will start panicking and your reflexes will take over, forcing you out of the ice water. Breathe slowly and deeply, watch your breath. The second you noticed your mind started wandering, come back to your breathing. Don’t sit in the ice for too long. I would say a minute would be a good start, and then slowly progress.
Your breathing is the link between the physical, material world and the spiritual, non-tangible world.
It’s all Good Mental Training
It’s been almost a year since I started taking cold showers. There wasn’t a single day that I missed a cold shower or an ice bath. When people hear that I dive into the ice they usually say: It’s just not so cold for you anymore, or, You’re from Ukraine, You’re used to it. It brings up the smile on my face to hear those excuses people find for themselves why not to do it. I took the cold shower approximately 365 time and let me tell you, there wasn’t a single time that I felt like taking it. Every time I left my warm bed and came up to the shower, my mind would give me million legitimate reasons why I shouldn’t do it. 365 time I forced myself to open the cold water. 365 times I won the internal battle between ME and MY MIND. 365 times I stepped out of the shower as a winner. 365 times I trained my mental muscle and strengthen it. The cold showers are still as cold for me as they were a year ago, but now my mind is much stronger. The ability to control the mind doesn’t stop in the tub of ice, it impacts all the areas of my life. I put the reins on the crazy “monkey mind” of mine. It allows me to step back and take control over the impulsive behaviors, I wasn’t even aware of before. It allows me to do the right things when I don’t want to, when I’m being lazy or tired. It allows me to push through discomfort and pain. It opens up the whole new, previously unreachable world.
A few useful tips:
- Don’t think about taking the cold shower. Don’t think how cold and uncomfortable it will get. Don’t let your mind talk you out of it.
- Focus just on stepping into the shower. Period. Just step in, the rest will follow.
- When in cold, focus on what follows. Think of how good the warm water will feel afterwards and how good you will feel about yourself.
- Remember, the cold shower won’t lats forever, but the mental strength will.