What’s the number one thing you do to reduce anxiety? At the top of my list is swimming in ocean pools, and I recently learned of the incredible physiological reason this works so well.
Diving into cold water triggers an innate response known as the mammalian dive reflex. It activates a physiological response that slows down your heart rate - similarly to the response you get from breathing exercises like boxed breathing.
According to the research, this diving reflex targets your vagus nerve - the nerve system responsible for slowing down your breathing, your heart rate and reducing anxious thoughts.
Essentially, your body is calming itself in preparation for a dive, so it doesn’t work unless your entire face is submerged.
For me, this means diving into the water and doing my best Ariel impression, swimming along the bottom of the pool until I run out of air and have to pop back up.
I catch my breath, and then I go again.
But if you’re not fortunate like we are to live by the beach, there are a few ways your can replicate this at home:
✨ Placing your face into a sink of cold water and holding your breath. This mimics the sensation of diving into cold water and gives your body the same anxiety-reducing response.
✨ Using an ice pack on your sinus. Take a malleable ice pack and place it across your sinus and eyes. To get the proper physiological response, you also have to put your head between your legs.
This is primitive reflex is an incredibly powerful tool that you can use to reduce - and even eliminate - anxiety instantly.