It sounds like my own personal cold-girl hell: three minutes submerged in an icy bath. But studies show that exposure to the cold can actually help manage pain, boost your immunity, lessen anxiety…the list goes on and on.
“When I first heard about it, it was the opposite of appealing,” confesses Goop’s executive beauty director Jean Godfrey-June. It was the Wim Hof Method, covered on episode two of Netflix’s The Goop Lab With Gwyneth Paltrow, that piqued her curiosity—and eventually converted her to the morning ritual.
“Ice baths are a great introduction to teaching the body to adapt to different types of extremes,” adds Jonathan Leary, a chiropractic doctor and founder of Remedy Place, a wellness center based in L.A. and New York City. “It builds mental resilience and allows the mind to get comfortable in a state of discomfort, which will improve the ability to deal with other types of stress as well.”
Remedy Place has multiple rooms in its 7,200-square-foot Manhattan enclave dedicated to cold therapy—including the Ice Bath Room, where they offer classes that combine breathing and the daring cold plunge. “Controlled breathing within an ice bath is extremely important to get the body calm and quicken its adaptation [to the temperature],” Leary says. “The body will go into a fight-or-flight state, and slow, controlled breaths through your nose will help shift your parasympathetic nervous system. This type of breathing can also be a great tool for calming anxiety.”
New mother Jenn Im has been chronicling her entire life on social media for over a decade—and recently, one of the topics has become her use of a daily cold plunge to help with postpartum anxiety. The “Cold Therapy” tile on her Instagram includes videos with her husband, Ben, hyping her up for support. “I get a huge burst of energy after each plunge,” Im shares. “If I’m feeling really anxious, it acts as a restart button for my mood.”
You don’t need a plunge pool to get the benefits, though. The experience can easily be replicated at home in the shower. “I like to kill two birds with one stone—I turn the shower on and get in immediately, using my Clarisonic cleansing brush [Editor’s note: R.I.P., but other options still exist] with the de Mamiel Brightening oil to distract myself,” says Godfrey-June. “When the Clarisonic is finished, my two minutes of cold is up.”
In an era of peak stress and sadness, melancholy ballads climbing the charts, and general post-pandemic malaise, if changing the temperature of my water for two minutes in the shower can really, truly boost my mood…well, count me in. “This is an amazing tool to teach yourself not only how to handle uncomfortable situations, but also to actually learn how to thrive within them,” Leary says.
“Being cold is one of my worst nightmares, so it’s become an incredibly powerful practice for me,” continues Godfrey-June, who has also done the uber-glam Deplar Farm plunge in Iceland (pictured above). “It’s like holding that really difficult yoga pose for the first time. Once you’ve done it and you know you can do it, you’re pumped. Now that I know I can get through this difficulty, I channel that energy for other things ahead.”