Cold Plunging – An Art of Perseverance and Grit
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We have an innate, human tendency to be productive, to achieve greatness, and to reach our highest individual potential. The self-induced pressure to wake up and “live our life as if it’s our last day” is seemingly unattainable at times, but our collective drive is what makes us the most competent, intelligent race in history. On occasion, our tenacity puts us into a state of overdrive. When this happens, what does it take for us to find our way back to our center?
Everett Wiethorn, a jewelry maker living in Bend, Oregon, has a devoted passion for creating one-of-a-kind, bespoke jewelry pieces made from precious metals and stones. As an entrepreneur, the success of his business solely relies on the dedication he puts forth. Prioritizing his craft to meet the demands of his loyal customers is a natural tendency, but in order to maintain focus on his precision craft and optimize his mental health, he found his way to the river.
Read on for some thoughts and reflections on the benefits of incorporating cold plunges in your wellness routine:
How did your cold plunge journey start?
After listening to a wellness podcast called “The Huberman Lab,” I was inspired to create space in my schedule, let go of the entrepreneurial pressures and find calm in the cold water. I needed to find my center again. I was being consumed by the demands of my work and I noticed my attention being hooked by my emotions rather than focusing on my craft. Feeling the full spectrum of human emotion–relative to entrepreneurship, being a high achiever, navigating relationships, and realizing my personal potential–was intense.
When did you first take the plunge?
One afternoon, I was walking my dogs by the river and I noticed how consumed I was by my own emotions and thoughts rather than experiencing the present moment of the walk. I recalled the positive effects of cold plunges that Andrew Huberman spoke about in his podcast. I said to myself, “I need to get in that water.” And so I did.
What did it take for cold plunging to become a habit?
Cold plunging is more of a craving than a habit. I crave cold plunging because of the way it disrupts my mental reel of “need to dos” and the emotional tangle I experience. Cold water immersion demands ultimate presence in my body, in the water, and in my mind.
How do you stay motivated?
What helps me stay motivated is the rush and aliveness that I feel each time I do it–stepping out of the freezing cold air and feeling my blood pumping, skin tingling, and the endorphin rush that floods my system. Every time I cold plunge it feels like a personal win.
What are the benefits of cold plunging?
I feel benefits such as mental clarity, focus, presence, and particularly, an expanded capacity for adversity. A cold plunge is deeply uncomfortable, but every time I push through, I realize that I am fully capable of overcoming the temporary discomfort. When my mind and body are telling me to quit, I access a state of peace in the moment’s intensity. Perseverance is worth the grit.
“I feel benefits such as mental clarity, focus, presence, and particularly, an expanded capacity for adversity.”
Have you noticed other positive impacts on your well-being?
Connection with Breath - Cold plunges have caused me to become increasingly mindful of my breath. Slowing down my breathing improves focus and helps me regulate my nervous system.
State of Presence - Using my breath enables me to connect with the body and slow down. When I slow down, I tend to notice the sweet details of my day, expand my internal awareness and experience life in the present moment.
Focus - Submerging in freezing cold water allowed me to let my external and internal world fall away. It gave me a moment in my day where nothing else mattered because my mind was purely focused on finding my deepest breaths and being in my body.
How to Cold Plunge
Get ready to plunge! Grab a towel, slip into your favorite pair of men’s or women’s KUHL Freeflex quick-dry shorts (these are the perfect lightweight, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying shorts for a dip), and a KAMA Surface Poco Mat (to keep your bare feet safe from the dirt), and find a safe river, lake, or ice bath for your cold plunge. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind–
Before your cold plunge…
1. Don't focus on the "cold" factor. Anticipating the shock isn't mentally helpful.
2. Practice your breathing technique in a comfortable setting prior to the cold plunge.
3. Set an intention of how long you desire to submerge. Having a goal will help train mental endurance.
While you’re submerged in the water…
1. Focus on your breath to quiet your mind. Notice the feeling of adrenaline and the fight or flight response heightening in your body. Let it go.
2. Set a timer, but don't anticipate your timer.
3. Imagine the sensation of warmth. Focus on your core and visualize a fire inside.
When you step out of the water, you may feel physical sensations such as a sense of burning on your skin, tingles, and numbness. These sensations can be a gentle reminder of all the biological impacts that are happening within your body!
Cold Plunge Benefits
Cold plunging the ability to increase your baseline dopamine. Dopamine is the molecule in our brain and body that is linked to motivation.
Increases Energy Levels
Cold water immersion can increase circulation by constricting blood vessels and then dilating them, which can help improve oxygenation and nutrient delivery to the body's tissues. This is beneficial for a healthy heart and a high level of energy throughout your day.
Cold water immersion stimulates white blood cells which fight off infections and illnesses in the body. Additionally, the lymphatic system contracts, which causes lymphatic drainage which is a process that detoxifies the body by removing waste and toxins from tissues.
Cold water immersion stimulates the body's production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are signaling molecules that stimulate cell growth to repair and regenerate cell tissue. Reducing inflammation in the body can help alleviate soreness and improve recovery after exercise.
This practice takes commitment and grit. Submerging in freezing cold water is not a comfortable feeling, nor is it natural. It takes motivation and desire and ultimately, a light-hearted sense of discovery to see how an alternative practice can positively impact your physical and mental body. Dip your toes, walk-in waist-deep and take the plunge. However you can, notice how a cold water plunge impacts your overall well-being.
Our Cold Plunge Go-to Items
Written by Danielle Caruso.
Featuring Everett Wiethron