Fighting stress during the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a number of people to find new outlets to help their mental health. Trips to the gym or weekly book clubs have turned virtual, forcing people without their temples of Zen in the time of social distancing. Visits with a therapist too are virtual, while things like morning meditation at your desk to daily city walks have been altered and feel a little different today.
Finding outlets for stress relief can come through exercise, but have you tried taking a cold shower yet?
Rob Whitley, as an assistant professor in psychiatry at McGill University, proposed the idea in a column for Psychology Today suggesting cold swims or cold showers could be therapeutic to people during the coronavirus outbreak. In his piece, Whitley outlines the mental health benefits of cold-water activities (60-70 degrees Fahrenheit), specifically open-water swimming, which can “elevate mood, increase happiness, and regulate sleep.”
“Swimming outdoors in the summer can also involve exposure to sunlight, which gives multiple health benefits, including the release of vitamin D, which can help protect against a range of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. Complete cranial immersion in cool water can also stimulate the vagus nerve, which can help reduce swelling and inflammation,” Whitley wrote.
Whitley noted that cold showers at home can also be beneficial, although it limits the benefits of exercise and being exposed to sunlight, which carries its own health benefits.