Chill Out: The Surprising Effects It Will Have On Your Body

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After a very productive and fast paced week at Ali Specialties, I can’t help but to appreciate the time I have off on the weekends. Like most people I know, I like to spend my downtime relaxing, recharging and reflecting.

Barton Springs Pool, a pool that is fed from underground springs, is considered one of the crown jewels of Austin. It has quickly become my happy place and often serves as my “pick me up” spot. The first few times I visited the springs, I wouldn’t dare to even think about jumping into the 68 degree water (despite the fact that I usually love being in the water!) In fact, taking a steaming hot shower is my favorite way to start the day. When it comes to water, I have always been on “the hotter the better” train.  I am a huge fan of wading in warm ocean water and taking piping hot showers everyday. But all of that has changed after learning that cold water can actually have some remarkable health benefits.

A few weeks ago (before the massive storms hit) I met my friend at Barton Springs Pool.  After spending some time laying in the sun, he convinced me that I should jump into the water for little cool down. Although it did not happen without a great deal of hesitation, I finally took the plunge (literally) into the springs. I’ll be honest- my immediate reaction was to get out of the water (and back into the sun) as quickly as physically possible. My body was in shock from the abrupt change in body temperature.

After a bit more convincing, I found myself back in the spring for the second time. But this time around, I made it a point to stay in the water and even set out to swim to the other side. Strangely enough, when I got out twenty minutes later, I felt nothing short of incredible!

“Cold water is a great reminder that you are alive!” my friend joked-and I couldn’t agree more.  Suddenly, I felt energized and I was overcome with a new sense of alertness and vitality. My muscles even felt more relaxed than normal, and I felt ready to take on the rest of the day. Now, I can’t help but to crave this feeling every single weekend (particularly if I happen to be struggling a bit from the night before.)

The amazing mood-boost that I had experienced that day (and every time I have visited a swimming hole since then) led me to inquire more about the effects that cold water can have on one’s body. After doing a little bit of my own research, I was thoroughly impressed with what I learned. As it turns out, I was right. There is even a name for this phenomenon. This practice, known as “cold water therapy”  is scientifically proven to have some seriously amazing effects on the human body.

1. Body Benefits. According to my research, cold water can have a wide array of health benefits. Some of the most interesting perks that I came upon during my research are improved blood circulation, boosted immune system functioning, and even weight loss/metabolism stimulation.

When it comes to hair and skin, it turns out that one of the most natural ways to improve the quality of your hair and skin is by adding cold showers to your regular routine. The reason behind this makes perfect sense: hot water has the tendency to dry out our skin. So by using cold water instead, you can help tighten your pores (and even your hair cuticles) which will in turn prevent them from getting clogged.

2. Mind Benefits. Cold water therapy can contribute to improved mood, increased alertness and it has even been known to relieve depression! According to the Underground Health Reporter, not only does cold water stimulate the release of mood-boosting endorphins, it also activates sensory nerves leading to the brain. The results can be very uplifting and can even prepare you emotionally to experience new life challenges.

3. Soul Benefits. Nature is proven to be good for the soul. If you want to be successful, creative, and have a balanced life, you must learn to enjoy the simplest and beautiful things that surround you each day.  “Nature is fuel for the soul, ” says Richard Ryan, lead author and a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. “Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature,” he says.  If you want to feel alive and more energized, I believe that there is no better way to spend your time than outdoors.

This summer, I highly recommend adding some swimming holes to your summer “to do list.”  Whether you are looking for a simple cool down or even just a refreshing pick me up on a hot summer day, try visiting some springs if there are any in your area. Whether you are looking to achieve any of the above health advantages or not, you can kick back and relax while simultaneously reaping the benefits that cold water has to offer. If you live in Florida or Texas, I have included some links below which list some of my personal favorite natural springs.

*I would be remiss if I did not add in one word of caution here. Experts advise that cold water therapy is not suitable for everyone. The potential spike in blood pressure caused by cold water can be dangerous for those with uncontrolled high blood pressure and those with several other conditions. Please consult your doctor and ask your own questions before trying cold water therapy on your own.


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