Nearly 8 in 10 Americans feel stressed out every week. High stress increases your risk of heart disease, obesity, depression and anxiety.
Now before you freak out – stress may be the problem, but it’s also the solution.
To understand this, we must first recognize that there are 2 different kinds of stress.
Real stress and perceived stress.
Real stress is when your life is in danger. It’s when you open a bathroom door and a tiger is in there ready to pounce. When you fall through the ice of a frozen lake and hit the water.
Perceived stress is when you feel stressed out but your life isn’t in danger. It’s the mountain of emails in your inbox. A deadline is coming up at work. A tough conversation you are avoiding.
If you remember back to 7th grade science class we learned about our body’s brilliant response to stress. If you were doodling in class like I was and not paying attention, let me briefly refresh your memory.
In stressful environments, we kick into the sympathetic nervous system which prepares us for fight or flight. Our pupils dilate, our heart rate skyrockets, we release cortisol and adrenaline as our body prepares to defend its life through either fighting or running as fast as possible.
When the threat is no longer present, we kick into the parasympathetic nervous system which helps us rest and digest. Our heart rate decreases, digestion is stimulated, adrenaline production is inhibited. Our body calms down and restores a very important balance.
Here’s the kicker.
Your body cannot tell the difference between a real event and a vividly imagined one.
So when we are ‘stressed out’ from the perceived stress of a work deadline, our body elicits the SAME fight or flight reaction as if a great white shark was circling us in the middle of the ocean.
Our bodies were built to handle stress. They were not, however, built to live in a prolonged state of stress.
See, we are ancient beings living in a modern world.
We have the hardware of an old flip phone operating in an overstimulated smart phone world.
Our brain and body have not evolved as quickly as digital technology has, and we are starting to see some of the negative effects of this.
This is why we have a population of people who are over-stressed and under fulfilled.
90% of what sends people to their physician is stress related. Stress is the ultimate cause of illness and disease.
The solution isn’t to destroy technology and revert back to the caveman days.
Rather introduce practical tools to help us be healthier, happier, and stronger human beings.
We can teach our mind and body the difference between real stress and perceived stress.
We can hit ‘download’ on a new software to help us operate in this modern world.
We can hit the reset button on our nervous system and recalibrate our stress levels.
Enter cold immersion...
The cold (and our relationship with it) may just hold the key to this upgrade.
Immersing yourself into cold water gives you a dose of stress – REAL stress.
Our body elicits the fight or flight response mode.
The magic (and the practice) happens when we are able to take control and shift back into a state of calm and relaxation even in the stressful environment.
We begin to train our body to recognize what real stress is.
We start building the muscle of staying calm under pressure. Focused under duress. Present in the intensity.
Submerging in cold water for 3 minutes every day is the hardest and most stressful thing you will do all day (unless you end up getting into a fist fight in the street or rendezvousing with a bear in the woods).
When we consciously dose REAL stress in safe and controlled ways, then perceived stress doesn’t bother us as much.
Our body is able to confidently shift into the rest and digest nervous system after we get out and return to homeostasis, leaving us feeling calm and relaxed and feeling good.
After a morning cold dip, the emails don’t seem so scary. Pushing yourself in a workout doesn’t feel so difficult. Traffic doesn’t bother you as much.
Add this on top of the well researched benefits that cold water immersion brings like decreasing muscle soreness and inflammation, increasing your metabolic rate, circulation, and immune strength and you see why we believe cold is the secret weapon.Feeling ready to take on the cold? At Edge Theory Labs we teach a 3 step approach that will allow you to CRUSH your cold immersion. Check it out here, and get after it!