Updated: Feb 22
This water is deceptively cold - much colder than it appears for New Zealand summertime. As someone who has always had a deep fascination with water, I've recently developed a particular interest in cold water. Not only does cold water offer a refreshing break from the heat of the day, but it also offers a host of health benefits, including boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, and increasing circulation.
For me, the most powerful benefit of all is the mental resilience that comes from pushing past the discomfort and asserting control over one's body and mind. As I step into the cold water, my body and mind immediately rebel, urging me to retreat back to the safety of the shore. It would be so easy to listen to their cries and avoid the discomfort, but I know that this discomfort is precisely what I need to build mental strength and resilience.
With each step deeper into the water, the resistance from my body and mind intensifies. I feel the icy water pressing against me, urging me to turn back, to seek comfort and safety. But I am determined to push through the discomfort, to prove to myself that I am the master of my own body and mind, I am in control.
As I finally submerge myself completely, the shock is intense. My breathing becomes rapid as I fight to maintain control, holding my body still. The temptation to jump out of water is strong, but I am in charge, not my temptations. Moments later, the shock fades, and I am left feeling euphoric and empowered. The water is still just as cold as it was before, but my body and mind have submitted to my will. It is normally at this point that I start smiling uncontrollably, almost like a drug, I am calm and I am in control.
The experience of entering cold water, pushing past the discomfort, and ultimately triumphing over one's own internal resistance is a powerful metaphor for life. It speaks to our tendency to procrastinate, become overwhelmed, and ultimately succumb to anxiety or panic. By willingly facing discomfort and asserting my control, I am demonstrating to my body and mind that I am the one in charge - not the other way around. Walking into cold water may be a simple act, but it serves as a powerful reminder that I have the strength and resilience to face any challenge that comes my way. For me, walking into cold water and submerging myself is a far more simple ordeal than removing some of the negative thoughts of my internal voice and stopping body from feeling anxious. There is no easy way to practise mental resilience. Just as we go to the gym to tear muscle tissue and train our bodies, our minds need training to become stronger. Arguably it is our mind that is far more important and requires far more training than our bodies.
I now take every opportunity I have to submerge myself in cold water. It is of particular benefit when done at the very beginning of the day. If I can overcome the cold and the nuance of getting into the water, over time, that difficult project that I have to work on later in the day seems a lot easier.
Next time you find yourself standing at the edge of a frigid body of water, don't turn back. Instead, I ask you to take a deep breath, plunge in, and embrace the discomfort. Your body and mind may scream in protest, but in the end, you will emerge stronger, more resilient, and more in control than ever before. #ColdWater #Anxiety #MentalHealth