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April 12, 2021

Could Cold Water Help Grow Your Business? (It's a resilience thing)

'Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.' - Thomas Edison

Procrastination, self sabotage, impostor syndrome... Any of those sound familiar?

Do you often find yourself doing anything but the best thing for your business?

Could something as simple as cold water be the answer you've been looking for?

Cold Showers, Ice Baths, Cryotherapy all make up a cold water immersion movement that is growing in popularity. The reported physical benefits of cold water therapy are many, athletes have used ice baths to recover from big games or training for years, but recent research suggests cold water immersion reduces inflammation (1) , boosts the immune system (2) and even promotes weight loss (3).

Now that's a nice list of potential benefits, however an aspect of cold water immersion that may be particularly valuable when it comes to business and personal development is that of building resilience. Resilience is often mentioned as a component of business success with many even rating it as being the key ingredient. Defined as the ability to adapt to change, get over setbacks and continue despite adversity.

The Reckon Resilience Report shows that highly resilient small business owners are more likely than their counterparts to be financially successful (43 per cent vs 23 per cent). They are also twice as likely to be happy (93 per cent vs 43 per cent) and satisfied with their job (80 per cent vs 40 per cent), in addition to being nine times less stressed (6 per cent vs 57 per cent). What does that have to do with cold water?

Cold water immersion is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. The minute you hit that icy cold water your mind tells you to get out as fast as you can. The focus and mental toughness required to "get comfortable being uncomfortable" can help unlock new found reserves of resilience that you can carry forth into your daily life.

The marines have a saying "Embrace the suck" that helps them encourage each other to push through mental and physical challenges believing it's the embracing that makes you stronger and better for it. Breathing into the discomfort of cold water immersion applies the same mental approach and strengthening your resolve is an effective way to build your resilience.

It's popular with many high achieving individuals outside the athletic space such as Lady Gaga, Tim Ferriss, Zac Efron, Kevin Hart, and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. Joe Rogan had this to say about it “Hot sauna and then a cold shower after working out is a religious experience when you get hit with that Boston cold water! It’s hard to breathe for a few moments but if you can get past that it’s worth it! Woooo!”

One of the most well known proponents is Wim Hof also known as The Iceman, a Dutch extreme athlete recognised for his remarkable ability to withstand freezing temperatures. He had this to say on the matter "If we always choose comfort, we never learn the deepest capabilities of our mind or body" as well as this "We are so successful at being comfortable, that comfort has become the enemy of our success."

The reasons for procrastination, self sabotage, impostor syndrome are many and complicated but a common aspect when it comes to these debilitating habits is the avoidance of things that are uncomfortable. Could cold water therapy be helpful in building your tolerance to uncomfortable situations and therefore your resilience? The jury's out but it's certainly worth exploring further and there's always the reported physical benefits as an additional upside.

If you're interested in giving it a go, start slowly, you can start with something as simple as switching your shower to cold water at the end for a 30 to 60 second invigorating boost. The level of invigoration will vary based on your environment mind you. When you're ready to take it up a notch you can try ice baths at home with 3-5 bags of ice and something big enough for you to submerge most of your body - a bathtub, old chest freezer, a large esky, there's even purpose built options available on Amazon that are quite inexpensive. There are also recovery centres popping up in many places that feature ice baths, cryotherapy chambers, infrared saunas where you can really test your limits.

“I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance.  Never settle for the path of least resistance”

― Lee Ann Womack, I Hope You Dance

References

1. The effects of cold water immersion and active recovery on inflammation and cell stress responses in human skeletal muscle after resistance exercise https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5285720/

2. Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034215/

3. Frequent extreme cold exposure and brown fat and cold-induced thermogenesis: a study in a monozygotic twin https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25014028/

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