please folks - don't get your latest news from TikTok - chances are it's flawed. Let's check out the 'cold shower trend' and see what the science says...
What are the benefits?
From a psychological perspective, using cool water (not ice cold) in the shower can be extremely beneficial for grounding purposes. Grounding is a psychological term we use to indicate getting ourselves back in our bodies and it is particularly helpful when we are stuck in the anxious spiral of our mind, and using temperature changes is also a component of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) which can be very helpful for emotion regulation. Warm water can be also be very soothing and relaxing, while cool water can 'wake up' the body and help a person be aware of their senses around them. We are not talking about hours here - we are talking about a couple of minutes of temperature change to make the person aware of their sense and out of the worry of the mind. This can be paired with other senses, such as noticing one's visual surrounding, what smells are in the air, what the water feels like on the skin, and what it sounds like as they hear the water. A full shower is also not necessary. Sometimes people can use a simple bowl of cool water and place their hands in it for a minute or splash some cool water on the face. These are all beneficial when the anxiety spin is in full force.
Are there any people should should NOT take cold showers?
Again, from a psychological perspective, we want to be aware that any extreme panic, fear, worry or anything of that nature requires more than simple grounding techniques. For this issues and concerns, involve a licensed professional on how to proceed. Anyone using any variance in water temperature as a grounding technique should always ensure they are medically cleared for such activity prior to engaging, and psychological professionals do not encourage extremes in temperature of burning hot or ice cold as this could be damaging to the skin, rather gentle changes that can shift our awareness to the body. There are people that may have cardiac conditions and other medical issues that may react poorly with significant changes to the norm of the body in any direction. Safety is always priority.
What's the final vote?
Well, using cool showers is great when it is done in moderation as ONE part of an entire grounding strategy. It was not invented by TikTok-ers so go to the real experts like the DBT researchers who understand the why behind it. Most importantly, a person needs many tools in their bag that can decrease stress - not just one. This cannot be your only tool - how often is a cool shower available when we are overwhelmed? Think more broadly and get a coping plan that involves behavioral tools as well as cognitive strategies and other helpful distractions. Contact KML or your provider if you need more help!
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