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Jumpstart your morning
Legend has it that the Samurai warriors dipped their heads in buckets of ice-cold water before marching into battle. The Finnish, Russian and Latvian people traditionally cut a hole in an icy lake in winter and dive in. They then steam in the sauna, rinse and repeat. These cultures recognise the immense power of hydrotherapy for physical health and mental clarity. But you don’t need to go to these extremes to reap the benefits of hydrotherapy, you can simply start with your own shower at home.
Stand under the shower stream and turn on the water as hot as you can handle. Stand there and let it splash all over your body for a minute. Now turn it to the coldest setting. After one minute, turn it back to the hot setting. Repeat this at least seven times so the shower lasts 15 minutes. Finish with cool water. Psychologically, contrast showers prepare you to face even the most intimidating day.
Mental Health Benefits
Studies have shown that contrast showers can lead to improvement in patients with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. This is due to the link between water therapy and the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. Contrast showers are also amazing for recovery after athletic training, travel, general malaise and exertion.
Hydrotherapy has been in use since ancient times as a way to balance the body and mind. 5th-Century Greek physician Hippocrates taught that water therapy ‘allays lassitude’.
Hot-cold therapy is the most effective way to move the blood and improve circulation.
Contrast showers also benefit your lymphatic system, a key component of your immune system. The lymph fluid often stagnates in our vessels because it does not have a central pump. When you expose your body alternately to hot and cold water, this gets it flowing, easing inflammation, flushing pathogens and transporting antibodies to the site of disease.
Power of water – in the evening, finish your shower with hot water to relax your muscles and help you sleep. In the morning, finish with cold to wake you up.
Tip: If you are experiencing muscle soreness or an internal health challenge, use a handheld showerhead to stream hot and cold water directly on the affected area while massaging it vigorously. The improved circulation may help speed up recovery.