Can Cold Plunging Improve Mental Health?

mental health awareness month

May is Mental Health Awareness month, and here at SweatHouz, we’re proud supporters of wellness experiences that can improve both your physical and mental health.

A Look at Mental Health

Mental health is important at every stage of life and includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. The American Psychological Association categorizes mental health as emotional well-being, good behavioral adjustment, relative freedom from anxiety and disabling symptoms, and a capacity to establish constructive relationships and cope with the ordinary demands and stresses of life.”

Importantly, mental health is not just the absence of illness or disorder; it’s not a binary state of being well or ill. Rather, mental health can fall on a continuum , ranging from excellent (i.e., high performance, energetic, flow state) to severe symptoms (i.e., exhaustion, high anxiety, absenteeism). It’s no secret that millions of people are affected by mental illness each year. About 21% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020, with 1 in 20 people experiencing serious mental illness.

Additionally, “there’s a strong bidirectional relationship between mental and physical health—meaning one affects the other,” explains Dr. Susie Reiner , exercise science professional and science communicator. “When you take care of yourself physically, for example with exercise, you see boosts in your mood, energy, and productivity levels, and when you take care of your mental health, you see improvements in performance, stress levels, and sleep.”
While we recommend working with your healthcare provider for any individualized treatment, we are strong believers that regular engagement in health-promoting behaviors can help optimize your well-being. According to Reiner, “rest and recovery is crucial to improving your performance when pushing yourself physically, and focusing on holistic wellness can reduce your risk of developing several chronic health issues.”

How the Cold Plunge may Boost your mood :

Enter, the SweatHouz cold plunge. Studies suggest that it’s effective for improving post-workout recovery and reducing inflammation, but there’s more beneath the surface. During cold water immersion, neurotransmitters like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine – the feel good hormone – are upregulated and can help us feel more alert and focused for several hours after exposure. Post-plunge, you may notice a better mood, more energy, and an enhanced ability to conquer the goals you’ve set for yourself.
Additionally, acclimation to cold exposure over time – meaning, you adapt to the stressor – may shift you from a dominant sympathetic nervous system response (fight or flight) to a more parasympathetic (relaxed) one. Further, the concept of hormesis suggests that when you’re regularly exposed to an acute stressor, like the 50*F SweatHouz cold plunge tub, your body can better handle that stressor and other stressors in the future.
So could it be true that just a few minutes of cold therapy has lasting impacts on your mood and mental health? Turns out that many researchers have asked the same question, and the emerging evidence is pretty cool:

One 2018 case study looked at the effects of regular cold water swimming on a 24-year-old woman with major depressive disorder and anxiety. After four months of cold water swimming, she was able to manage her mental illness without medication.

A 2020 randomized controlled trial included 92 adults who engaged in whole body cryotherapy. Study participants who added cold exposure into a treatment plan saw improvements above standard pharmacological treatment and experienced reduced symptoms of depression and improved well-being.


50% off your first session during the month of may.

*Available from 5/1/23-5/31/23*

Commit to your Your Health + Give the Cold Plunge a Try

“Taking time out of your day to partake in health-promoting activities helps to build autonomy into your routine,” says Reiner. “The more you are your own advocate in your health, the more motivated you’ll feel to continue those behaviors, building lifelong healthy habits in the process,” she adds.

Cold plunging should not replace the mental health treatment plan you have with your healthcare team, but current scientific evidence does suggest that adding icy immersion into your routine may improve your physical and mental health. Plus, our studio teams are well-equipped to teach you a box breathing technique and welcome you to a private cold plunge suite today.

If you haven’t tried cold plunging yet, now is the time to experience its mental, physical and performance benefits for yourself. Never been to SweatHouz?

Take advantage of our discounted Intro deal and receive over 50% off your first session during the month of May*.

The hype is real: Cold plunging is linked to real health benefits for your mind and body. Check out our growing footprint to book your first plunge at a SweatHouz location near you today.

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