It doesn’t require Chew The Chat Podcast to remind you that this year has been WANK!
Never the less it has been. It’s been hard for everyone, and we all deal with our emotions and mental health differently. Something I’ve felt extremely strongly about my whole life is the ownership of my experience. It’s taken some years to understand this in any real capacity but as I enter the year that I shall turn 40 I’ve realised that physical health is the key to one thing – EVERYTHING.
It seems that mental health is often in the hands of physical health and the harmony that is created when the body and mind are tuned in and running on nutritious fuel and ideas may give us half a chance at feeling a sense of purpose as we navigate our way through this unimaginable experience of being an Earthling.
So unlike many if not most people during the lockdowns of 2020 I was determined to keep hold of my own ideas, to trust my instincts and to believe that my present mind and honest heart is enough for me to ‘get through’ the mayhem and fear created by others that I could see so many suffering from.
Continuing to practice all forms of social conduct and physical training to me was not up for debate. Luckily I have like-minded friends, and health we decided was in our own hands.
So, cold water therapy it is then!
We complete our usual functional strength training and head to the lakes behind our house.
If you’ve never tried cold therapy, then it simply sounds outrageous, ludicrous and so plainly simple that it must be utter bollox or they’d all be doing it? Truth is it’s really tough to do. The act its self is, of course, straightforward; remove your clothes take some good long deep breaths to get in the water, be it getting in a shower a bath a lake or a perfect size puddle that happens to be in the right place at the right time – that’s the easy bit. The challenging bit is in your mind. It’s quite literally is mind over matter and then some.
Now I’m no scientist as some of you most lightly know by now from my many bad explanation attempts of many ‘various things of science’ I’ve learned over the years during my podcasts, but the cold exposure is AMAZING for us earthlings. I implore anyone interested at this point to google it and read about the endless health benefits that cover everything from mental health, skin repair, sleep, and metabolism to weight loss to life expectancy. Turns out it’s hidden in plain old sight.
So back to the lake behind our house on Boxing Day morning. We had taken all the kids, and our friends had taken their three also. The six kids were wrapped up warm and holding bets on who would stay in the longest the Mums or the Dads. The girls went in first like Samurai’s posed, calm and focused. Over to us dads then, not so calm not so gracious but hey, we were in. The water feeling is tough to convey, it’s a kind of cold that resembles heat, like a metallic wrap of barbed wire stripping your skin from its bone. So much of the coping relies on breath, get through the first 40 seconds, and you can almost kid yourself you can cope, if you manage to find your self at 2 minutes then you’re reaching the God tier of ‘Omnipotence’.
Now when we get out, the body takes us through the next phase of adjustments and the dump of dopamine and serotonin is quite extraordinary. This is my favourite part of this ancient process of course – the pay off! It’s a higher high in a cleaner meaner way than I’ve experienced in any other of my many, many attempts to find Nirvana over the years. This feeling transcends words it reboots your system so that only something so demanding and mentally challenging has a chance of doing.
Add into the pot the other humans who were bonkers enough to strip down and enter the Lake in 1.5*C winter air temperatures and approx 8*C water and you have a feeling and an energy that is so strong it’s palpable between you all and you know it. Every one of us knows how difficult it is to do what we just did yet all the while we all know just how easy it is to do too.
See that’s the paradox we face as Earthlings we are driven to innovate, create, and automate. Still, the truth, the real nourishment and rewards always lay where there is a struggle, a pilgrimage, a summoning of the internal you that wants to sit tight in the easy street.
During the times we find ourselves in now ‘Epoque SARS Cov 2’ where our health is being sold back to us via government vaccines, 7p face masks and nosy neighbours whose social media profiles paint them as the white knights of the third coming we could all serve ourselves well by remembering WE are the owners of our bodies, we are the neighbours of our community. We owe ourselves some simple truth – LOOK AFTER YOURSELF.
Coldwater? Nah… a load of old bollox.