How I Manage Pain and Lower Stress
Those long soapy, almost boiling winter showers are things of the past.
I used to love spending never-ending minutes under the warm water, filling the bathroom with a mist that smelled like phthalates-free soap. Those were a few minutes where I could stay with myself, let the rest of the day go, and relax my muscles entirely.
Things quickly changed after having a baby; those long showers shifted almost instantly to tears filled seconds, that saw me running out of the bathroom while my hairs still had some conditioning on. Showers weren’t fun anymore, as those precious seconds waiting for the water temperature to warm up, was how long it took to my baby to realise that I wasn’t in the same room anymore.
At the same time, I was experiencing frequent flares, and I was finding myself to be in chronic pain; I thought the long showers were helping me, but I always felt somewhat really tired and still in massive pain after getting soaped up.
By accident, I came across the Wim Hoff Method and his theory behind breathing and ice baths. It took me 13 months to challenge myself and joining his crew on a weekend workshop where I found myself getting immersed in an ice bath for 2 full minutes, although the external temperature was barely touching the 8 degrees. Before that workshop, I followed their challenge where I had to take 20 days of cold showers and work myself up to spend 2 full minutes under the cold water. It all happened during winter time in Australia, where heaters and warm places aren’t really a thing.
But why did I challenge myself to that torture?
This method claims to:
- Lower bodily inflammation
- Strengthen the immune system
- Revitalise the cardiovascular system
- Increase energy and lower overall fatigue
- Speed up the metabolism
- Promote a better quality of sleep
Thinking about it, it was cheap, doable within my own routine (not much needed to be put in place to take the plunge), and it promised me a way out of getting sick throughout winter (thanks childcare germs) while decreasing the overall chronic pain.
I couldn’t see a single reason why I shouldn’t try it, although it meant “suffering” for less than 2 minutes a day.
After 5 months of cold showers and 2 ice baths, this is what happened:
My pain has decreased tenfold
I didn’t pay too much attention to my pain in the beginning, as I was focusing on the challenge and how to breathe while icy droplets of water were caressing my back. 2 weeks into the challenge, I realised I hadn’t touched the Ibuprofen or Panadol tablets for a long while. It was miraculous to me, and a massive relief to my poor liver. After a month, I found myself postponing the appointment with the pain specialist (back in the past I would have looked forward to it), and I stopped treatments altogether. The pain isn’t gone completely, as the condition remains, but my life’s quality has improved tremendously because of it.
Mind you, I’m not here telling you to stop treatments and jump into the nearest lake during winter time. All I’m saying is to incorporate a cold shower into your routine and see if you get any improvement, or if it does decrease the incidence of flares.
I’m not getting as sick as before (I haven’t had a cold in 2 months)
My little bundle of joy has been going to childcare for months, and every week I found myself battling with new and potent germs; I noticed that all family suffered from this change in routine, and I was the only one that took more than a week to recover. Somewhere along the line, that changed as well. I stopped getting sick, and whenever I did I managed to jump back and get on top of things within an unthinkable timeframe. This has obviously lead me to feel overall much happier, as I manage to spend joyful moments with my daughter without crying because of the bodily pains.
I save water
Long are gone the soapy shower and the 6 minutes of water waste with them.
My baby doesn’t mind watching me taking a 2 minutes shower (as she doesn’t get engulfed by steamy clouds anymore), and I feel more environmentally friendly, without having to join my community and pick up rubbish from the beach on weekends (which is something I do anyway.
I feel more revitalised
Also when sleepy, or after a tough night, or a tiring day, cold showers wake me up as much as a slap in the face (minus the violence). I feel much stronger mentally and physically in less than 90 seconds, and I receive a load of necessary energy to tackle the rest of the day. Amazingly enough, if I take a cold shower at night, instead of waking me up, it calms my mind and allows me to have a better night sleep
But how can you start a cold water therapy without having to shock your system?
I started by having warm showers and then move the water from lukewarm to cold for 10, then 20, then 30 seconds and so forth; I found it challenging and quite torturous.
It all became much easier when I decided to give up the hot water all together, so I didn’t need to bring up the courage to turn the tap.
Find what works for you, and aim to have at least 1 minute of cold shower every day, and direct the water to the where the pain is in your body.
If hot showers are your things, and you feel that they are your “YOU” time, and you don’t really wanna give them up, I have great news; you really don’t have to. Cold showers aren’t for everyone, and it’s something you have to get used to. Nonetheless, you now know that they are an option that could give you immense benefits in the shortest amount of time, without having to leave the house or spend any money.
You can also find more of my life with an Autoimmune condition by clicking here.