Time to Take the Plunge

Cold Plunge Time!

One of my favorite things to do are cold plunges.  What is that?  Well, it’s pretty simple.  It is when one jumps, plunges, or immerses oneself into a cold body of water.  There is only a brief amount of time spent in that cold water, typically 15-60 seconds, before needing to exit the water.

Now, why on earth would a medically trained doctor urge me to jump into a cold body of water?  Because it is good for you, in so many ways!

Why is cold water good for you?

The benefits of contact to cold water are two-fold.  First, there is the initial reaction that the body has to the cold water - constriction of the blood vessels on the body's surface, sending blood flow inward.  The nervous system and brain receives the message from the body that there is cold exposure.  The brain then sends a message back to the body (to the cold areas)... "Send blood back to the cold surface, and let's warm it up!" - says Brain.  This is the secondary effect of cold.  This is why your skin turns bright red following a cold plunge.  As the body begins to allow the return of blood back to the surface, circulation is stimulated and stirred up much like when waves are stirred up with currents or a tide.  

They key to receiving these benefits described above is to not allow the body to remain in cold conditions for too long of a period of time.  Again, that is why only 15-60 seconds are recommended for a cold plunge.  Otherwise, one runs the risk of losing too much body heat, and possibly even hypothermia.  

Why is improving circulation beneficial?

Promoting circulation of blood is a great way to boost health.  Circulation helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues, establish healthy blood flow to all areas of the body, and aids in our body's natural detoxification system (like the detox pathways of the liver).  Additionally, it also promotes circulation of the lymph fluid and can boost immune function. 

Healing Power of Nature

Did you know, nature is really good for us?  Well, duh.  We all know it, feel it, and actively pursue it.  The cool thing is that science is catching up with what we intuitively already know and feel.  Some call this earthing or grounding.  I call it “literally touching the earth” (land & water).  Regardless, it results in a plethora of health benefits including:

  • Eases the nervous system and reduces stress response
  • Activates the parasympathetic response, or the "rest and digest" phase, which is required for any healing to occur
  • Decreases cortisol levels
  • Blood gets less “sticky” and flows better
  • Improves sleep – falling asleep and waking feeling rested
  • Decreases pain
  • Improves immune function
  • Increases heart rate variability (this is a good thing)

  • Easier to connect to self and others in a heart-centered way

Regeneration & Reciprocation

Nature does a great deal to support and heal us, simply by… being here.  Is that support being reciprocated?  What can you do to heal and support nature in exchange?  Nature is at odds with massive human activity of development, industry, consumerism, policy, politics and just plain old ignorance.  What can you do, beginning in your own backyard, to begin to steward the earth that provides so much healing to us, in order to preserve and protect it for the next seven generations?    

Considerations before taking the plunge:

Is it safe?  Assess your surroundings before taking the plunge.  Are there any foreseen dangers in the area?

  • Look above - Broken branches in trees?  Lightning? 
  • Look around - Bees?  Watercrafts nearby?
  • Look down – Snakes?  Poison oak?  Broken glass?  Uneven terrain?
  • Be careful of strong currents and waves. 
  • Look for rocks and other obstacles to swimming before jumping in.
  • Consider wearing shoes/sandals to avoid broken glass and old fishhooks. 
  • Check to see if rocks are slippery before stepping on them.    
  • Can you easily exit the water? 

For first time cold plungers:

  • Do you have a buddy?  (I suggest not cold plunging for the first time by yourself)
  • Can you swim?  If swimming is a challenge for you, stay shallow, and again, have a buddy with you.  (You can still "plunge" in shallow waters)
  • Do not stay in the water longer than 1 minute.
  • Make sure you have your exit route out of the water planned.
  • Have some dry, warm towels and clothing on hand, following the plunge. 

This is a call to action!  An invitation!   To you, the reader, to go, take the cold plunge! 

Literally.  Find yourself a cold body of water, and jump on in!

In Joy,

Sarah Sue Myers, ND

    

Resources:

Chevalier G, Sinatra ST, Oschman JL, Sokal K, Sokal P.  Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth's surface electrons.  J Environ Public Health.  2012; 2012: 291541.

Chevalier G, Sinatra S, Oschman J, Delany R.  Earthing (grounding) the human body reduced blood viscosity – a major factor in cardiovascular disease.  J Altern Complement Med.  2013 Feb; 19(2): 102-110.


Oschman J, Chevalier G, Brown R.  The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.  J Inflamm Res.  2015; 8: 83-96.

 

Raise a Glass to All the Women Who Have Endured.

Women endure much when it comes to being a mom, the process of becoming one, and/or the shame of not being one.

I always thought I would be a mom someday. I guess because I had a mom, and dad and siblings, I imagined that my life would be similar. Ha! My life is ssooo not anywhere close to that! I don't have kids, but I always thought I would. I may still have kids, but I am aware that my chances of giving birth have decreased significantly. I went through a process of letting go of the deeply engrained notion of being a mom. That process involved a period of grieving and, in fact, I also had to re-envision my life all together. Friends would say, "Why don't you just get a donor or adopt?" I would reply, "Ha! I would not in my right mind willingly choose to be a single mom! I've seen how hard that is!" Now, before anyone out there begs to differ, I want to say, "To all you single mom's out there, cheers! You are amazing! I don't know how you do it, but you do. You are determined and loving. I applaud you. 

The one time in my life I may have actually had kids was about 11 years ago when I was married.  My wife and I were asking questions to our OBGYN, looking into all the avenues of conception, cost, and even perusing the sperm banks (that's the fun part). I remember getting so upset because "our love wasn't enough" to get pregnant. (Head shaking) Now I know...that statement is bullshit, but the feeling was real. I mean, seriously, how many kids in this world have come from spontaneous fucks that had nothing to do with love!?  I digress...at any rate, it sucked that we would have to go through all that and pay an expectorant amount just to get pregnant...like having a kid isn't expensive enough! What got me through was reminding myself that there are plenty of women who have to go through the same process even in a heterosexual relationship. That kept me sane and able to just be with the process. Cheers! To all those women who have gone through this process, you have much strength and perseverance. I applaud you.  

My wife and I never did had kids, and actually ended up getting a divorce- not from that though, it was actually more from the process of medical school and a long distance relationship- marriage killer. For anyone who has been in a strenuous graduate program, you know what I'm talking about. To all the women who have endured and successfully navigated being a mom and having a demanding career, Cheers! You must be communicative, understanding souls who know about boundaries and follow-through. I applaud you.

The ironic thing came a few years later when my ex-wife got married to a man and they started trying to have kids. She called me up one day and explained how she was really struggling to get pregnant. She said they had to go the route of fertility drugs and acupuncture, but to no avail and were now considering in-vitro fertilization. I had to laugh because ...well, you can imagine from what I said before, it had nothing to do with sexual orientation. And it really wasn't funny. To all the women who have been through this, Cheers! 

Life is and has been nothing I could have imagined. One thing I am incredibly grateful for are the many experiences I've had thus far. Through my journey I have heard stories and known intimately women who are moms, women who aspire to be moms, and the many women who have experienced deep loss, sorrow, & trauma in the process of trying to become one. Please don't forget the women who have been shamed for not wanting to be a mom. 

The women I've known who have had abortions, willingly or unwillingly, have expressed feelings of shame, guilt, hate from others, and even unresolved grief. You are courageous and strong. Cheers to you!

The women who have had miscarriages, which seem to be many, have expressed deep emotional, mental, and physical pain by it. The sadness of it seems to last and can even stress the relationship. To all you have had a miscarriage, Cheers! You are so loving and strong.

To all the moms out there, by whatever means you have acquired a child, thank you for showing up and choosing to love and teach, shelter and support our children. Cheers to you!

I also know plenty of women who know they do not want to have kids and deal with the shaming by others. What many have said is they don't like bringing it up because of the responses. To those women, Cheers! You are decisive and strong and needed in this world of over-population.

Women are strong, amazing creatures. They are mysterious, complex, deep, inspiring, resilient, and powerful beyond measure.

Cheers! To all the little girls and generations of women to come, you too are strong and will go through many challenges. You too will endure the pain, and experience joy as well.

Cheers! To all our female ancestors who endured and persevered, fought, stood up, spoke up, and took action to make this life better & opportunities more abundance for all of the women of today and to come; I honor and respect you deeply. Here's to you! 

I pour my drink to the greatest Mothers of all; Mother Earth and Grandmother Moon who regulate our cycles and keep us learning about letting go and growing, living and dying, over and over again. We will rise again and again. Cheers!

Here's to International Women's Day! Cheers!  Salud! Prost! Skal! Kanpai! Sei gesund!