A lot of people assume that Whole Body Cryotherapy is reserved solely in the treatment of sports-related injuries and ailments that cause inflammation. While it is true that it’s highly beneficial for these purposes, short-term exposure to extremely cold temperatures offers several other therapeutic benefits, including stress relief.
If family life, work, tending to your house, financial woes, and the sheer insanity that society has been experiencing since the world turned upside-down in 2020 has left you feeling super-stressed out, and you’re looking for a way to calm your mind – and your body – cryotherapy may be just the solution you need. What is cryotherapy? What does it involve? How does it relieve stress levels? Read on to find the answers to these questions and more – and to find out why it might be the ticket to reducing your stress.
What is cryotherapy, anyway?
Cryotherapy literally translates to “cold therapy”. It’s been used for centuries as a way to treat a number of ailments, such as inflammation and pain; in fact, ancient Egyptians practiced cryotherapy. If you’ve ever applied an ice pack to a stiff muscle, then you’ve practiced cryotherapy. But that’s isolated cryotherapy, or the application of cold to a targeted part of the body; for stress relief, you’re going to want to practice whole-body cryotherapy.
As the name suggests, whole-body cryotherapy involves exposing the entire body (minus the head) to exceptionally low temperatures.
How does whole-body cryotherapy work?
Whole-body cryotherapy (often referred to simply by its acronym, “WBC”), is pretty simple and straightforward. A cryo sauna, which looks kind of like a metal canister, is used to rapidly expose the entire body to sub-zero temperatures. The chamber features an opening at the top, which your head sticks out of, and a door. You walk into the chamber, place your head out of the hole, and close the door behind you. Once you’re ready to go, liquid nitrogen is used to quickly bring down the temperature inside the chamber (to as low as -300 degrees F), and thus, bring down your body temperature. The session is brief, lasting for an average of 3 minutes, but no longer than 5 (and it can be shorter, if you prefer), and when you’re finished, you simply walk out of the chamber and go about your normal routine.
How does Cryotherapy Reduce Stress?
Several scientific studies have found that cryotherapy can effectively reduce stress levels. In these studies, patients who practiced cryotherapy saw a dramatic reduction in how they managed stress. Here’s a look at how rapidly cooling the body to sub-zero temperatures can help to reduce your stress and anxiety and make you feel a whole lot “chiller”.
Endorphins are hormones that are located with the brain and the central nervous system. These hormones promote feelings of well-being, and provide analgesic (pain relief) effects. Endorphins are commonly triggered by activities that excite the body, such as exercise and sex, but it’s been found that the rapid and drastic reduction of body temperature also triggers the release of endorphins. These hormones help to enhance mood, boost cognitive function, and can reduce mental health issues, such as stress, depression, and anxiety.
Thanks to the rush of endorphins that are sent throughout the blood that flows through your body during a whole-body cryotherapy session, it can immediately boost your mood. People who practice cryotherapy at Muscle Lab often report that they notice a marked improvement in their mood just a few seconds after their sessions commence. The mood enhancing effects aren’t just short-term, they can last for several hours, and studies suggest that if practiced regularly, may be able to offer long-term mood improvement.
Reduced cortisol levels
Several studies that examined the effects of cryotherapy on mental health have found that it helps to minimize cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that the body produces when it feels stressed-out, nervous, or on-edge; the purpose is to trigger the “fight or flight” response so that if you were in real danger, your animal-like instincts would kick in and you could protect yourself or your loved ones. People who are exposed to prolonged stress, however, can produce high levels of cortisol, and the production of the hormone can continue for long periods of time. Cryotherapy helps to stop the production of cortisol levels, which in turn can help to reduce the stress levels that you are experiencing.
Recent studies indicate that more than 50 million Americans suffer from sleep deprivation. It’s no secret that sleep is vital for your overall health and well-being; however, given the chaos of the world combined with the stress of day-to-day life, so many people aren’t getting the sleep that they need. When you’re feeling stressed out, anxious, and depressed, falling asleep and/or staying asleep isn’t uncommon. With regular cryotherapy sessions, however, you may be able to get a better night of sleep. Not only will you fall asleep easier, but you’ll stay asleep longer, and your sleep will be more restful. The less stressed you feel, the more sleep you’ll get, and the more stress you get, the less stress you’ll feel.
Strengthened immune system and improved overall health
Cryotherapy can also help to boost your immune system and improve your overall health and well-being. Since it helps to reduce cortisol levels, promotes the production of endorphins, and promotes better sleep, your immune system will be in much better shape. It’s no secret that the stronger your immune system is, the better your overall health will be, which means you’ll be better able to ward off bacteria, will get sick less often, and when you feel better and sleep better, your stress levels will dramatically fall.
Schedule Your First Cryotherapy Session at Muscle Lab
If you’re feeling downtrodden, completely overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, snappy, short-tempered, and just all around “blah”, cryotherapy may be just the solution you need. This sub-zero therapy may be able to dramatically reduce your stress levels, and allowing you to get so much more out of life.