15 min read
How Cold Exposure Can Help You Beat The Post Festival Blues
Looking for a natural remedy to help you get over those post festival blues?
We’ve all been there. That week following a music festival can definitely feel like an uphill battle, especially when you’re not taking the proper steps to help your body recover.
Weekend long music festivals can take a toll on your body, and it’s not uncommon to feel a little low for the following week or so. Anytime we stack short term hits of dopamine, there’s going to be a refractory period in which things seem less exciting and you’re a little less motivated.
This can happen on a small scale, like when you stack social media, your morning coffee, video games, and other pleasure inducing activities throughout your day to day life. Over time, you will need more and more of these things to derive the same pleasure that you did when you were first introduced to them.
Now think about all the reward centers that are being stimulated while at a two or three day long festival. The lights, the music, the dancing, the recreational substances.. It’s an absolute smorgasbord of dopamine releasing activities being stacked on top of one another. And yes, I did just use smorgasbord in a sentence – Look it up.
Because of this, it’s crucial we take extra good care of our bodies after coming back from these events, and that we are patient & forgiving of ourselves at times where we don’t feel 100% motivated or upbeat. Remember that this feeling will NOT last forever, and what’s most important is that you give yourself some good TLC over the following days, and that you don’t continue to stack dopamine after your body is already depleted and trying to get back to baseline.
In this post, I’m going to share one incredibly effective hack for anyone daring enough to trust me and try it for themselves:
Cold Exposure Therapy
Implementing cold plunges or showers has been one of my favorite post festival strategies for recovering my sore body, and helping to get a boost in some of those feel good chemicals.
And before you immediately run away and tell yourself that you would NEVER jump in a freezing ice bath, I would encourage you to read the rest of this post to learn a little bit about the actual benefits you can derive from incorporating this practice into your post festival routine.
One thing I can promise is that it DOES get easier over time. And if you simply start with what you can handle and do it consistently over time, eventually this will become one of the most refreshing and important parts of your day.
Using Cold Exposure To Beat The Post Festival Blues
Improved Mood & Attention
So what does the current research tell us about the benefits of cold exposure? Whether you’re just rinsing off in cold water at the end of a hot shower, jumping in an ice bath, or even just spending a period of time out in a cold environment, probably one of the most significant documented benefits of this practice is the increase in a neurotransmitter and a hormone called norepinephrine.
One of the primary functions of this important hormone is to preserve heat by constricting the blood vessels in your body. This is known as vasoconstriction.
And while this is obviously a very important survival mechanism that helps to keep us alive anytime we’re exposed to extreme cold for prolonged periods of time, I get more excited about what norepinephrine does for our brains.
This chemical acts as a neurotransmitter which helps to boost things like focus, attention, and mood, and is actually one of the primary chemicals that is targeted in pharmaceutical drugs that are used to treat depression and ADHD.
And while we still have a lot to learn about how these neurotransmitters can impact our mental health, I believe regular cold exposure can be a very powerful addition to any sort of treatments or remedies that you’re currently using to treat ADHD, depression, anxiety, or just general stress on a daily basis.
Now notice how I said addition, not replacement. I’m not saying this method is a panacea, and I’m definitely not negating the benefits of other pharmaceutical solutions for these issues. But I do believe the more that we can equip ourselves with other natural tools in our environment, things that are accessible to us and are absolutely free, the better we’ll be able to take control of our own thoughts and emotions and get one step closer to eradicating this mental health epidemic that we are now currently facing as a society.
So you might be asking now, how much time do I really need to spend in this cold environment to start reaping the benefits of the improved mood, focus, and attention that comes from that norepinephrine spike?
Well what we know from studies is that individuals who submerge themselves in water of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (which I get it, it’s cold) for just 20 seconds, saw an increase in norepinephrine of up to 200% to 300%! So that’s two to three times the amount of norepinephrine by just 20 seconds of cold exposure.
Now, look, before you completely check out and say, there’s no way in hell I’m getting in something that cold, I want you to know that you don’t have to submerge yourself in a 40 degree ice bath to start getting some of those benefits. Based on what we know, you can still derive the benefits from that increased norepinephrine production by even being submerged in water at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The only difference is you’d need to spend a little more time in that water to derive the same benefits. For example, you’d probably spend a few minutes in there as opposed to 20 seconds to get the maximum benefits of that increased norepinephrine production.
So what we know is that the colder the environment, the less time you have to spend in it. The warmer the temperature, the longer you have to stay to derive those same benefits. So what I would recommend is just start slow. If you’re going to try this out, think about starting with just a cold rinse at the end of every single shower. You don’t have to go out and buy an ice bath to get started. You don’t have to fill your bathtub with ice cubes to start reaping these benefits. Just begin by ending every shower with turning the knob as cold as you can handle, and sitting there for about 30 seconds. Do this for the first week, then slowly increase the time duration or decrease temperature as your body adapts.
I’ll say that when I first started implementing this practice, I could pretty easily tolerate between 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. However after only a few days of consistency, I found this temperature to be incredibly easy, and was able to drop down to temperatures of 45 degrees Fahrenheit without experiencing too much of a shock. It’s incredible how quickly the body is able to adapt, and I promise if you just start with what you can handle, eventually you will work your way towards those colder temperatures.
What you’ll find is that within a month your body will become acclimated and all of the sudden it’s not going to suck as bad. In fact, as you started to experience all the physical & mental health benefits from this simple 1-2 minute routine, my bet is that you’ll actually start to ENJOY it, just as I have learned to.
Cold shower to beat post festival blues
Improved Metabolic Function
Now, another cool benefit of cold exposure therapy is how it impacts our adipose tissue, or fat tissue, that’s stored in our body.
Generally, when we over consume calories and fat is stored in the body, it’s stored as white adipose or white fat tissue. This is the type of fat that contributes to obesity, chronic disease, and all sorts of other health problems.
However, researchers have discovered that by exposing yourself to the cold, your body goes through a process called Mitochondrial Biogenesis (I know, big word). Basically what that means is that your body is taking that white fat tissue, and convereting it into something called brown fat, or brown adipose tissue. Now this brown fat is really unique because instead of just being stored in the body, its sole purpose is to be burned to generate heat during times when we’re cold, to help warm the body up.
And because of this benefit, cold exposure therapy is actually being observed in a number of different studies on how it impacts individuals weight loss, and is being looked at as a potential tool to help aid patients with obesity.
Now, as someone who worked as a Certified Weight Loss Specialist for over six years, let me just say one thing. More than anything that we talk about here, when it comes to implementing a weight loss strategy, the number one thing that’s going to contribute to a reduction in body fat is maintaining a consistent caloric deficit. Put simply, it means focusing on eating less calories than you burn, while also maintaining a proper exercise regimen focused around lifting weights and building muscle. Those are the tried and true principles of sustainable fat loss, and should always be the core building blocks for your fitness journey. However, cold exposure could serve as a potential tool, and there’s no harm in testing it out yourself as more and more research is done in this area.
Improved Vascular Health
Now, in addition to the benefits we’ve already discussed around boosting norepinephrine, and increasing the conversion of white fat to brown fat in the body, there’s one other incredible benefit you reap from the practice of repeated cold exposure. That is, the direct effect it has on your vascular health.
Cardiovascular related diseases are one of the primary causes of death in our society today, and it’s been shown that this practice of cold exposure can directly aid in creating more resiliency & strength throughout our vascular system.
Whether you’re taking a cold shower each day or jumping into an ice bath, each time you do this, you’re improving your vascular conditioning, and improving blood flow to the brain and everywhere else to the body. Your vascular system is the transportation system that delivers all of the vitamins, oxygen, and nutrients that our cells need to maintain optimal health.
According to Wim Hof in his book The Wim Hof Method, in just ten days of 60 seconds of cold exposure, you can regain optimal vascular tone, which as a result relieves the body of biological stress. It helps to slow the heart rate down, which in turn will help you to feel more relaxed and less stressed every single day.
Photo of The Wim Hof Method book
Unlocking Your True Potential
Beyond the benefits mentioned above, I believe there’s also something equally as powerful that we can gain from this practice. Something that can only be unlocked when we train our minds to embrace the suck, and embrace the feeling of doing something uncomfortable because we know there’s something so beneficial on the other side.
By training this part of your brain, this will power to know that even though it’s going to suck, even though it will require sacrifice, I’m doing it because I know it’s going to make me stronger, you will find that you begin to develop more trust & respect for yourself.
And every single day when you get out of that cold shower or you get out of that ice bath, you will awaken this fire inside of you that you didn’t know was there. One where you feel like an absolute badass, ready to take on any challenge or stress that life may throw at you. The things that used to bother you and get you worked up suddenly seem insignificant, and you feel that much more confident & equipped to deal with anything that comes your way. There’s a newfound internal strength & mental toughness that’s developed when you enter into the cold willingly. We spend so much of our time doing things in an effort to avoid any sort of stress or discomfort, but I’ve found that there is true power & magic to be unlocked when we embrace those challenges head on.
When we can learn to embrace these certain stressors in our lives, we’ll find that we become more confident, more self assured, and more willing to take risks & chances because we’ve overcome that little voice in our head that tells us we’re not good enough. It helps us to really step into our power as individuals and take control of lives, instead of allowing opportunities to pass us by because of the limiting beliefs we hold in our mind. You may feel like this is an over exaggeration, but I would encourage you to be the judge after trying it for yourself.
Try this method for 7 days consistently, starting slow, and slowly increasing over time. Remember, you don’t have to jump right to a 40 degree Fahrenheit cold plunge right off the bat. Instead, start by ending each shower with 30 seconds. Turn the knob as cold as you can stand, and do that for seven days consistently. Notice how you begin to feel, and how your mood & focus is affected throughout the day. Pay attention to the difference in how you respond to stressful situations in your life. Then as you begin to progress, try to go another week, add another 30 seconds, make it a little bit colder. You don’t have to go 0-100 with this, but I can promise you it is worth the effort if you just give it a try.
I hope by now I’ve managed to convince you to at least give this practice of cold exposure a shot. I’ve found it to be extremely healing both physically and mentally post festival, and it’s something I continue to incorporate in my everyday life. Not only is it great for reducing inflammation in the body, but that boost of norepinephrine can be helpful when trying to get out of the slump of those post festival blues.
We’ve actually created a free resource called The Ascended Raver program that includes a module on this practice, along with five other tried and true methods for helping you to feel better before, during and after music festivals.
Our mission here at Raveraide is to help you to tap into the natural gifts that were bestowed upon you at birth, and live a life where you feel fully in control of your own thoughts & emotions. Our products were designed to provide you with the proper nutrients to feel your best, but this free program will help to teach you the things you can be implementing in your routine to truly feel alive each and every day.
Raveraide Hydration Sticks
A Few Things To Know Before Trying
Now, I’d like to add a few caveats for anyone who decides to implement this methodology. First off, always consult with your doctor before implementing any sort of cold exposure therapy. This is not meant to be construed as medical advice, and especially if you suffer from any sort of heart condition, you definitely want to speak with a medical professional to see if it’s safe for you to begin implementing this practice.
And lastly, an important note for any individuals who have certain hypertrophy or muscle building goals. Many studies have shown that taking an ice bath or exposing yourself to the cold too soon after a workout may actually blunt the muscle building adaptation signal, and mitigate the amount of muscle growth you develop as a result. And so, if you are in the gym focusing on muscle gains, wait at least one to 2 hours after your workout before implementing this. Now, this is not necessarily the case for endurance athletes or athletes who are really just focused on performance inside of a sport. Ice baths have been shown to be very effective in alleviating muscle soreness and reducing inflammation in the body, but in particular, individuals who are focused on hypertrophy and muscle growth should wait one to 2 hours if you want to maximize your results from your workouts each day.
Want more science-backed strategies for improving your mood & bouncing back faster after festivals? Check out our favorite posts here:
This post was all about how utilizing cold exposure can help beat the post festival blues.
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