Cold Therapy in Groningen

9 May 2022

As students we can experience a lot of stress and anxiety in our day to day life. This has a lot to do with our nervous system being constantly stimulated by deadlines, assignments, social life, perhaps a side job and then balancing all of these things out. But how can we help our nervous system to make ourselves feel more relaxed?

Most of you have probably heard about the Wim Hof Method at some point. Wim Hof helps people gain control over their bodies through cold exposure therapy. But what is cold therapy? And could it help with our stress and anxiety?

Our nervous system

Before we get into what cold therapy is and why it could help with your anxiety, you first have to understand a little bit about how our nervous system works. We have two main states that our nervous system can be in. The parasympathetic and sympathetic state. The parasympathetic nervous system simply indicates that you are in a state where you feel relaxed and where you are able to function and socialize normally. When your nervous system switches to sympathetic you enter the fight or flight mode. Your heartrate increases, you might sweat more, your muscles tense up and much more.

When we were cavemen and women danger was not too difficult to comprehend. You would see a tiger and go into fight or flight. As soon as the tiger leaves, you would go back into your parasympathetic state. You could breathe again.

Unfortunately, our world has become much more complicated. Our brain does not realize that your thesis deadline isn’t a direct threat. And so, sometimes we stay a little too long in fight or flight because our brain doesn’t know when the “danger” is gone. This means that, because our problems are much more complex nowadays and not always physically in front of us, we have to help our nervous system relax. This is what we call regulating your nervous system. Making sure you come back to that parasympathetic state.

Cold therapy

Now, what does all of this have to do with cold therapy? Firstly, tapping into your body in several ways can actually help you regulate your nervous system. Dancing, singing, breathwork, yoga and even humming are proven to help with calming down your nervous system.

Cold therapy is often seen as something that will help with strengthening your immune system. But what is not always mentioned is how great it can be to regulate your nervous system, a.k.a. experiencing less anxiety and stress!

This is all due to a thing we call the vagus nerve. This is your 10th cranial nerve, which is responsible for a lot of the regulation in your body. Additionally, this wonderful nerve helps the body relax. This is where the cold therapy comes in. The vagus nerve can be activated through cold therapy. When you activate the vagus nerve through the use of cold temperatures your heart rate will slow down and your nervous system will get encouraged to go back to the parasympathetic state.

Examples of cold therapy are swimming (obviously), taking an ice bath (don’t do this unsupervised), cold showers or it can be as simple as dipping your forehead into a cold bowl of water. If you struggle with anxiety a quick tip is to take an icepack or something out of your freezer and hold it against your chest for 10-15 minutes. This does wonders! 

Cold Therapy in Groningen

Obviously you can take the cold showers and use the icepacks at home. However, since the temperatures of the water are perfect for cold therapy now that it is Spring time, we would like to list a few places where you can swim outside in Groningen.

We all know the city beach at the DOT, however there are multiple places where you can take the plunge. A little outside of Groningen there is a small other city beach, close to Hoogkerk. Some people enjoy swimming outside close to Kardinge or take a dive at Hoornsemeer or Paterswoldsemeer.Ofcourse, before you endulge yourself in cold exposure therapy, always make sure there is no blue algue (blauw alg). Then you might have a whole new problem again.