How to Fight The Winter Blues with Cold Water and Sauna

October 10, 2023
5 min read

The winter season can often bring a sense of gloom and discontentment. The shorter days and colder temperatures can leave many people feeling down and lacking energy. However, there are ways to combat these winter blues and boost your mood. We will explore the benefits of two powerful therapies: cold water therapy and sauna. 

We will dive into the science and provide practical tips on how to incorporate them into your winter routine. So, let's jump in and discover how you can beat the winter blues with cold water therapy and sauna.

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Before we delve into the remedies, it's important to understand the condition that plagues many during the winter months: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that occurs during specific seasons, most commonly in Autumn and winter. The lack of sunlight during these seasons can disrupt our body's internal clock and affect our mood and energy levels.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

The symptoms of SAD can vary from person to person, but some common signs include:

Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed.

Low energy and fatigue.

Difficulty concentrating and making decisions.

Changes in appetite, especially cravings for carbohydrates.

Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleepiness.

Social withdrawal and isolation.

If you experience these symptoms for consecutive winters and they interfere with your daily life, it's essential to seek professional help

The Power of Cold Water Therapy has numerous benefits, including:

Boosting Mood and Mental Well-being

Cold water immersion has been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good hormones. This can lead to an improved mood and increased mental well-being. Additionally, cold water immersion activates the sympathetic nervous system, which can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Improving Circulation and Immune Function

When exposed to cold water, the body constricts blood vessels, redirecting blood flow to vital organs. This process, known as vasoconstriction, helps improve circulation and can enhance immune function. Cold water therapy has also been shown to increase the production of white blood cells, which play a crucial role in fighting off infections.

Promoting Recovery and Relieving Pain

Cold water therapy is commonly used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts to aid in recovery and reduce muscle soreness. The cold water helps reduce inflammation and swelling, allowing for faster healing and relieving pain. It can also help improve joint mobility and reduce stiffness.

Incorporating Cold Water Therapy into Your Winter Routine

Now that we understand the benefits of cold water therapy, let's explore how you can incorporate it into your winter routine. Here are some practical tips to get started:

Cold Showers

One of the simplest ways to experience the benefits of cold water therapy is by taking cold showers. Start by gradually reducing the temperature of your shower until it reaches a cold temperature. Begin with short durations and gradually increase the time spent under the cold water. Focus on deep breathing and embrace the invigorating sensation.

Cold Water Plunges

If you're feeling adventurous, consider trying a cold water plunge. Find a natural body of water, such as a lake or river, and immerse yourself in the cold water for a short period. Start with brief dips and gradually increase the duration as your body acclimates to the cold. Remember to prioritise safety and never plunge alone.

Ice Barrel Therapy

For those seeking a more controlled and convenient option, an Ice Barrel can be a fantastic investment. An Ice Barrel is a specially designed container that allows you to immerse your body in cold water in the comfort of your own home. It provides a similar experience to a cold water plunge but with more convenience and safety.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Sauna

Saunas have been used for centuries to promote relaxation and improve overall well-being. The combination of heat, steam, and the environment of a sauna offers numerous therapeutic benefits. Let's explore how saunas can help combat the winter blues.

Increased Circulation and Detoxification

When you enter a sauna, the high temperatures cause your blood vessels to dilate, leading to increased circulation. This enhanced blood flow can help deliver vital nutrients and oxygen to your muscles and organs, promoting overall health. Saunas also induce sweating, which aids in the detoxification of the body by eliminating toxins through the skin.

Stress Reduction and Relaxation

Saunas provide a peaceful and tranquil environment, allowing you to escape from the stressors of daily life. The warmth and soothing ambience of a sauna can help relax your muscles and calm your mind. Spending time in a sauna can promote the release of endorphins, reducing stress and promoting a sense of relaxation and well-being.

Improved Sleep Quality

Many people struggle with sleep disturbances during the winter months due to the lack of sunlight. Saunas can help improve sleep quality by relaxing the body and mind. The heat from the sauna can induce a state of relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep and experience deeper, more restful sleep.

Adding Sauna Sessions to Your Winter Routine

Now that we understand the benefits of saunas, let's explore how you can incorporate sauna sessions into your winter routine. Here are some tips to get started:

Find a Sauna Facility

If you don't have access to a sauna at home, consider finding a local sauna facility or wellness centre. Many gyms, spas, and wellness retreats offer sauna amenities for their members or guests. Check for facilities in your area and inquire about day passes or memberships.

Invest in a Home Sauna

For those who prefer the convenience and privacy of a home sauna, investing in a portable or built-in sauna can be a great option. Portable saunas are compact and easy to set up, allowing you to enjoy sauna sessions in the comfort of your own home. Built-in saunas offer a more permanent solution and can be customised to fit your space and preferences.

Sauna Etiquette and Safety

When using a sauna, it's important to follow proper etiquette and prioritise safety. Always shower before entering the sauna to ensure cleanliness and prevent the spread of bacteria. Start with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration as your body acclimates to the heat. Stay hydrated by drinking water before and after each sauna session, and listen to your body's cues to avoid overheating.

Combining Cold Water Therapy and Sauna for Maximum Benefits

While cold water therapy and sauna are effective on their own, combining these therapies can amplify their benefits. The contrasting temperatures of cold water immersion and sauna create a unique experience that promotes circulation, detoxification, and overall well-being. Here's how you can incorporate both therapies into your winter routine:

Start with Cold Water Therapy

Begin your routine with cold water therapy, such as a cold shower or cold water plunge. This will invigorate your body and awaken your senses. Embrace the rush of cold water and focus on deep breathing to fully experience the benefits.

Follow with a Sauna Session

After your cold water therapy, transition into a sauna session. The warmth and relaxation of the sauna will complement the invigorating effects of the cold water, creating a harmonious balance. Allow yourself to unwind and embrace the soothing heat of the sauna.

Alternate Between Cold and Heat

For an even more invigorating experience, consider alternating between cold water therapy and sauna sessions. This contrast therapy can further enhance circulation, boost the immune system and promote overall well-being. Start with a cold water immersion, followed by a sauna session, and repeat the cycle as desired.

Additional Tips for Beating the Winter Blues

In addition to cold water therapy and sauna, there are other lifestyle factors that can help combat the winter blues. Here are some additional tips to uplift your mood during the winter months:

Get Sufficient Sunlight: Spend time outdoors during daylight hours to expose yourself to natural sunlight. Open curtains and blinds to let in as much natural light as possible in your home or workspace.

Stay Active: Engage in regular physical activity, such as walking, jogging, or yoga. Exercise releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.

Maintain a Healthy Diet: Focus on consuming nutrient-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. A balanced diet can provide essential vitamins and minerals that support overall well-being.

Practice Self-Care: Prioritise self-care activities that bring you joy and relaxation. This can include reading, taking baths, practising meditation, or indulging in hobbies you enjoy.

Connect with Others: Stay socially connected by reaching out to friends and family. Plan virtual or in-person activities that foster connection and support.

Remember, seeking professional help is important if you experience severe symptoms of depression or if your mood significantly impacts your daily life. Mental health professionals can provide guidance and support tailored to your specific needs.

Don't let the winter blues dampen your spirits. By incorporating cold water therapy and sauna into your winter routine, you can boost your mood, improve circulation, and promote overall well-being. 

Whether it's a cold water plunge, a refreshing cold shower, or a relaxing sauna session, these therapies offer a natural and accessible way to combat the winter blues. So, embrace the power of cold water therapy and sauna, and let the healing properties of water and heat uplift your spirits this winter season. Stay warm, stay well, and embrace the beauty of the colder months.

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