Have you ever taken a cold swim? After you get over the initial shock of the cold, it’s stimulating. This is because when you enter a cold temperature quickly, your blood moves from the surface of your body to the core, which helps bathe your brain in fresh blood and cleans out your system.
Molecular biologist Nikolai Shevchuk has found evidence that a cold shower can offer relief from depression and anxiety his 2007 study, according to this article in Lifehack. His results showed that cold showers might even be more effective than prescription antidepressants.
Shevchuk’s study found that when exposed to cold, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, and the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline is increased. Norepinephrine, an organic chemical that functions in the brain and body as a hormone that can help people feel happier, naturally is released in the brain as well. The cold water can also increase production of beta endorphins, or ‘feel good’ molecules that will give you a sense of wellbeing.
Due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower sends an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect.
Neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, such as dopamine, participate in a wide range of behavioral and cognitive functions in the adult brain, including movement, cognition, and reward. “The mechanism that can probably explain the immediate mood-lifting effect of immersion in cold water or cold shower is probably the stimulation of the dopaminergic transmission in the mesocorticolimbic and nigrostriatal pathway. “These dopaminergic pathways are known to be involved in the regulation of emotions. There is a lot of wellness research linking these brain areas to depression,” Sheychuk said.
You can use your shower at home to expose your body to cold water. Start with a shower at a comfortable warm temperature. Slowly cool the water down over a 5-minute period, until your water gets down to 68°F, or until it’s almost too cold to tolerate. Stand in the cold water for 2 to 3 minutes. Some cold water enthusiasts use the “all-at-once” method, saying that sudden immersion into cold water is more effective. Do what works for you.