I learned this week that cold-water immersion affects your nervous system the same way exercise does. That is to say, I read a scientific journal article confirming what I already knew in my body. I’m generally a pretty happy person. But sometimes—like lots of folks—I feel heavy, dark, sinking, unmotivated. The refreshing lift I usually get from running feels impossibly far away. Putting one foot in front of the other feels next to impossible.
When I saw a case report about a woman with major depressive disorder who found such relief in cold-water swimming that she was able to reduce and finally discontinue using medication, I immediately recognized what I feel each time I step out of that burning cold river. It’s like a short-cut reset. A hard rewire. For someone who doesn’t believe in short-cuts.
This is all to say, please accept my letter of recommendation for cold-water dips. It may not be for everyone, but if you have any inkling that it might be for you, I say go for it! I’ll be cheering you on.
P.S. This is NOT a recommendation for anyone to stop any sort of medication. Simply an acknowledgement that this natural therapy can have surprising impacts.