3 steps to CRUSH your cold immersion
No one likes the cold.
I sure didn’t. And it doesn’t get easier or warmer the more you do it.
BUT you do get better at it. Better at approaching it.
The cold is a mirror.
It brings up our deepest fears and anxieties. It represents the biggest roadblock and obstacle in our life. It shines a spotlight on our inner critic. It is a glass ceiling of perceived limitations we place on ourselves.
Most of us are noticing more people doing cold immersion. Ice baths, cold showers, polar plunges and everything in between.
We all know there are benefits for it.
I’ve spent many years learning and refining my approach to the cold. My journey into the cold began several years ago during a Wim Hof breathwork and cold immersion expedition in Iceland.
However cliche it may sound, the cold truly changed my life.
For reasons that will become clear, I dove into this deeper. This naturally led to teaching others and helping them tap into their own power through the cold.
Through guiding hundreds and hundreds of people through their first cold water immersion, I learned a few things.
I began to refine a 3-step framework I learned on how to approach it.
Equipping people with this tool, I started watching people who thought they could never ever get in the cold CRUSH the cold and change their life.
Athletes who had PTSD from ice baths became addicted to it. Even my mom who wears a parka in San Diego winters crushed the cold and now does it on her own.
I started to see people sleep better, recover faster, feel stronger, become healthier, and tackle bigger challenges.
With this instruction and approach, you can learn to love it too. The cold will no longer scare you and you can start to use it to unlock all of the benefits that come with it (which we’ll dig into).
Whether you are immersing into your Edge Tub, taking a cold shower, ice bath, or dip into a cold lake this will make it MUCH easier to do it.
We all fear the cold.
But what if on the other side of the thing we fear the most is the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for?
What if everything we want is just one step outside of our comfort zone?
Let’s dive in!
3 STEPS TO CRUSH YOUR FIRST COLD IMMERSION
Think of approaching a cold water immersion with these 3 steps, or chapters. I like to consider them a Warm Up, Practice, and Cool Down.
Chapter 1 - The Warmup
Chapter 1 is everything that happens before you actually get into the tub. I like to consider this the ‘warmup.’
Notice how this part may be the hardest! Most people don’t actually make it past this part of nervousness to get into the tub.
“Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.” - Theodore Vail
Where does your mind go?
Remember that this isn’t real stress yet, it’s still perceived. But it’s about to be real, so we want to prepare the mind and body for it.
Step next to the tub ready to go in.
Drop into a horse stance (a wide squat with heels in, and toes out) and start some tai chi arm movements or whatever movement feels good to fire up the muscles and warm up the body from the inside out.
Take a deep breath. Literally. Your breath will take you through this.
The quality, depth, and focus of your breath will set the tone for the ease of your immersion.
Use a few long, deep breaths to relax your body and get to a point of acceptance rather than fight.
Deep inhales through your nose and long slow and controlled exhales through your nose. This will generate heat in your body.
Embrace the suck that’s about to happen, and remember why you are doing this.
As you focus on your breath dropping into the body, I encourage you to use this as an opportunity to set an intention for the cold.
What do you want to let go of? What do you want to strengthen? Give it to the ice. Forge it in the cold.
It could be as simple as letting go of stress or soreness or as deep as leaving limiting beliefs of worthiness behind.
The goal of Step 1 is to get to a place of acceptance and surrender, to make it a choice to go in on your own time.
If you try to fight the cold or brave the cold, the cold will win. If you surrender and accept it, the cold welcomes you with open arms and a warm embrace.
Start the timer (or trust the person next to you to keep time).
Take a deep breath and step into the tub.
Chapter 2 - The Practice
This is the practice! I like to think of this like a workout. Allow it to be your meditation.
Don’t think twice, go all in!
If you’re new to this, then I recommend you keep your arms resting on the side of the tub.
There’s no sugar coating this – this part sucks. Your body will go into shock, and you may find it hard to catch your breath.
Fight the urge to want to get out by taking powerful breathes. Forceful exhales. The cold will force you to take shark quick inhales and we want to move through that to long slow exhales as quickly as possible.
You won’t have a problem inhaling (thanks to our body’s fight or flight response) so I want you to focus on pushing the air out making a “shhh” sound.
Forcefully dump the air out focusing on the exhale as many breaths as it takes until you feel like you can breathe fluidly again.
It typically takes 10-30 seconds to get back to a slower fuller breath, and once you do that, the worst is over.
As you continue to take powerful inhales through your nose and long, slow exhales, you are cuing your body to relax. You are taking control.
TRUST yourself. Get out of your own way. Remember, your body was build for this. It knows exactly what to do, and is doing it without you thinking about it!
You don’t have to focus on releasing norenephnerine or adrenaline or cortisol and you don’t have to try to focus on bringing the blood from your extremities to your core. That just happens.
Go for timelessness. Notice how quickly you may be wondering “how much longer?!” but just keep focusing on the quality and depth of your breath.
Every exhale, relaxing a bit more, sinking a bit deeper in the tub. The goal is to eventually be fully submerged with your arms and hands and shoulders in the water to soak up the full benefits.
Take whatever time and reps it takes to get there.
How deeply can you surrender?
Enjoy the forced meditation and stick with the breath.
And just like that, time is up.
Chapter 3 - The Cool Down
Your cold immersion experience doesn’t end when you get out of the tub. some may argue that this is where it really begins. I like to think of this third chapter as ‘the cool down’ after a workout.
Step out of the tub and get right back into your horse stance squat and start moving. Do some body weight squats to engage the glutes to fire up your adrenal system and to start to bring some blood flow back to your body.
This is where the benefits actually happen.
Our bodies are smart. We know we can survive without an arm or a leg, but we need our heart and our lungs.
When you were in the tub, all of the blood from your extremities gets pulled to your core to protect your vital organs. (which is why your body may feel totally numb).
That blood circulated at your core, became SUPER oxygenated and nutrient rich.
Now when you get out, that fresh blood will flow back to your extremities and flush out lactic acid and inflammation along the way. (this is why athletes have long since used this practice).
You may want to jump for your towel or warmth right away.
Resist the urge! Stay present with it.
Stay present with your body’s response to the cold. The magic is in the response.
With everything, the benefit of an action comes from the response to a stressor.
Stay present with the process and focus on regaining composure on your own. This will help you avoid the shivers
You must cue your body that you are okay and it’s time to downshift back to rest and digest nervous system. Lean into the sensations of the warm and cold blood mixing which can at times be intense.
Visualize your veins opening up and circulation flowing all that fresh blood to the rest of your body, and specifically any body parts that may need some recovery.
And just like that, you’ve done it! Now you get to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of doing something hard, and reaping the rewards from it. We have a pharmacy within our brain and body and we can tap into all of these feel good hormones and neural chemicals – we just have to work for it.
That’s why we are obsessed with the cold and its healing powers and are on a mission to educate, inspire, and empower high performers to use the cold to get the edge.
You got this, and we got you. Go All In!