WE DID IT! January 1st, 2022 Polar Plunge! Woo Hoo!!!
‘Weekly cold plunges have been better than I ever could have imagined!’ – am I really saying this?
I almost can’t believe it myself! It’s been amazing to be able to change my mindset, my habits and behaviours to accomplish things I used to have so much resistance to. I never would have dreamed I would be jumping into water that is barely above freezing 2 years ago (totally out of my comfort zone) – even my husband, who knows me well, commented that he can’t believe that I am able to do it! We have both been amazed!
The first time I chose to enter ice-cold water was at a Spa a couple of years ago. The cold plunge pool was part of a ‘Therapeutic Waters Circuit’ registering at a temperature of about 15 degrees Celcius. While I enjoyed the Hot Epson Salts Pool, Eucalyptus Steam Room, Infrared Sauna and the Warm Dead Sea Salt Pool, the ColdPlunge Pool presented a rather ominous challenge for me. When I started I could barely step into the water, it was actually painful! I knew all about the benefits of a cold plunge to increase circulation and improve the immune system, promoting health and well-being but the knowledge didn’t make it any easier and even though I tried to rationalize the benefits of submerging myself in the ice-cold water – just thinking about doing it triggered anxiousness and stress.
I was determined to receive the benefit of the cold pool and started using mindset techniques that would allow me to step into the chilly pool with less apprehension, and then incrementally tolerate the cold for up to 90 seconds chin deep submerged in the skin-numbing cold. As I practised methodically I began to develop more resilience to the cold experience and I became more committed to the process.
Some of you know that I have been diving deep into studying how to change limiting beliefs, not at the surface level, but the deeper root level beliefs – the one’s that keep us stuck, and trigger fear, anxiety and overwhelm. For many people, their limiting beliefs bring up emotions such as anger, guilt, shame and then we find ourselves frustrated as we experience self-doubt, judgement, procrastination, resistance, distractibility, ruminating or perfectionism. It is so hard to change those deeply entrenched responses.
Limiting beliefs show up as that strong inner critic, that judges us and keeps us feeling uncomfortable, and keeps us playing small. Those limiting beliefs prevent us from doing what we have always dreamed of. They show up as what some people refer to as ‘monkey mind’, negative thoughts, and unproductive habits causing us to question ourselves. We are often unaware of our limiting beliefs, but we know they exist because of how we feel about ourselves and the conversations, or internal dialogue we have with ourselves. We talk to ourselves in ways that no one else hears:
- What if I am not good enough
- Who am I to be doing this?
- What if I can’t?
- What if people think I am a fraud!
- What if I don’t know enough?
- What did I do wrong?
- What if they don’t like me?
- What if I look stupid?
- What if I don’t know the answer?
In the fall of 2021, I decided I wanted to put the belief change theories I have been learning to the test. What better than cold water plunges since I have always hated the discomfort of swimming in cold water and questioned if I could accomplish my goal of doing a New Years Day Polar Plunge. So I challenges myself and my husband and we both committed to doing weekly cold plunges in our freshwater spring-fed pond.
To my delight, the experience of weekly cold water plunges has been totally inspiring and motivating for me. I feel calmer, more centred, and more focused. I am fascinated to notice that the chronic left hip pain I have been struggling with for 3 months dissipates quickly after the first plunge each weekend, likely due to an endorphin release. I am mentally sharper and feel exhilaration at accomplishing what I set out to do. Above all, I feel 100% refreshed and fearless. How could I ever say no to future opportunities for cold ‘dips’?!
Learning more about the health benefits of a cold swim encouraged me to continue to ‘take the plunge’! I was all in for the benefits!
‘Swimming’ in cold water:
- Boosts the immune system
- Activates endorphins to be released
- Improves circulation
- Increases libido
- Burns calories
- Reduces stress
Overcoming a challenge like cold water plunges has paid off in so many ways for me. Moving past this level of resistance has changed my ability to take action in all areas of my life – no more being stuck, no more excuses, no more analysis paralysis, no more fear, no more self-doubt. THIS is the gift of ‘plunging’ into the discomfort zone! This is where the magic happens!
‘Every things you want is just outside your comfort zone’.
I have always wanted to do a New Years Polar Plunge but never imagined how people could tolerate it.
2021 was about practicing focused attention and mindset and wondering if I could over-ride my strong distaste for immersing myself in cold water.
Weekly cold plunges built our determination muscle and we accomplished our goal. It’s been an interesting process of literally making a decision and learning how to following through despite discomfort.
I can’t believe how much easier this has been than I expected. I have learned that building positive habits needs to be incremental for long lasting change – just like an athlete who builds on their skillset one step at a time.
I am so excited to have accomplished this goal – one more item on my bucket list – checked!
Simone Usselman-Tod is a Stress Management and Mindset Breakthrough Coach. She draws on her foundation of health sciences, holistic wellness and the neuroscience of behaviour change to help her clients achieve results and transform their lives.
E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 905 746 6797