The Beginners Guide to Cold Swimming
We often have a giggle when we chat with our friends and family who struggles with Australian winter. After all, it doesn’t get that cold here (that is if you live north of NSW like us)!
We are also in awe of the oldies but goodies who never shy away from a cold morning dip in the ocean pool all year long. While we love the warmth, this nordic practice had us intrigued. Buzzing in the past few years among millennials for its amazing mental and physical benefits, we decided to explore this winter practice - without surfboard and wetsuit that is.
What are the benefits of cold swimming?
With the late sunrises and the colder mornings, getting out of bed and down to the ocean for a dip might feel like a challenge. As we’re currently slow pacing the depts of Australia’s winter, our mood, motivation, and immune system can be low (especially with the recent lockdown).
A cold swim daily seems to have the ability to reverse these effects quite efficiently.
- Reduce Stress Level. Cold exposure, in small amounts, conditions the body to stress by gradually stimulating our nervous system. Plus, it forces you to adjust your breathing pattern, slowly reconditioning you to a healthier pace.
- Boost Immune System. Studies have found that a daily cold shower or swim increases white blood cells count in the body - aka the type of cells that protects against diseases.
- Improve Circulation. A cold swim can be invigorating as the body works a little harder to adjust the temperature. As a result, our circulatory system kicks up the delivery of freshly oxygenated blood around the body, gradually improving circulation.
- Nurtures Mindfulness. Plugging your skin in cold water is a rapid way to get your attention out of your mind and into your body. When the cold grasp you, you shift your focus onto the breath and sensation that currently occurs. It is the ultimate meditation.
Who knows a quick dip in ice-cold water could do so many goodies to your body? And according to the Wim Hof method, your body only needs about 10 days of exposure to adjust and experience the first signs of benefits.
What are the best (and safest) techniques?
It’s no secret that we all have some sort of mental blockage when it comes to immersing ourselves in cold water. Our fight-flight compass acts as if the water could harm us in some way. So while as a beginner we definitely wouldn’t dive into the antarctic - because well, hypothermia - there are a few safe techniques we can all start with!
- Cold Shower. A good way to ease into cold exposure is to spend 15 to 30 seconds of your regular shower under cold water and increase your exposure gradually from there. Not only it will give you a taste of how good the cold actually feels, but it is also a safe option for both your health and your unconscious self.
- Cold Dip. Yes, the ocean can be really cold in winter, but think of it as a dip rather than a swim. You can start slowly by immersing yourself in the water and out in a matter of seconds, then working your way a little longer. Make sure to bring a large and fluffy towel to wrap yourself with. Hot coffee in your KeepCup can help motivate you as well.
- Cold Swim Tip. If you want to expose yourself to the cold a little longer than a dip, perhaps you might want to try some breathing techniques. Breathing can help you maintain your core body temperature and enhance the benefits of cold swimming. You can start by taking deeper breaths, with a count of 4 on the inhale and exhale, or try the Win Hof method - which consists of 3 series of full belly breaths.
Like any other holistic practice, cold swimming should be adapted to your own lifestyle and needs. You don’t need the latest tools to immerse yourself in cold. In fact, all you really need is a fluffy towel for the aftermath, a natural zinc sunscreen for your ocean swim, a one-piece because duh, and your breath.
And for surfing? Well, we still recommend to keep using a wetsuit during your practice, but it doesn’t hurt to drop the board on the sand when you’re done and run back in the water with your swimmers-only for a dip.Looking to get a fresh tin of zinc for your cold swim? Shop our collection here.