06 Oct The Chill Factor: Unlocking the Benefits of Cold-Plunging for Perimenopause Symptoms
Your body buzzes with anxiety during a 3pm wake up.
PMS randomly rears its ugly head weeks before your flow.
Crushing fatigue barges into your 10 am meeting with your kid’s teacher.
The overwhelming need to have sex appears as you prepare dinner for the family, then quickly dissipates as post-digestive allergies kick in (that avocado drove up your histamine levels again).
W.T.F. is going on?
You’re 43. You’ve been warned about impending changes to your cycle approaching, but aren’t they still years away? Menopause doesn’t affect women until they’re in the 50s, right?
Yes… and no. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), menopause doesn’t arrive as a sudden flick of a switch. It’s more of a slow, progressive dimming of certain reproductive hormones. It’s a transition that can take several years.
According to Lara Briden, in her book Hormone Repair Manual, heredity determines the age at which you’ll reach menopause. If your mother started at 53, you will too. However, our individual experience of the transition to menopause – perimenopause – is determined by a variety of factors, most significantly, lifestyle. Our genes are but one variable in the equation. Gene expression, which is influenced by how we live and what we’re exposed to, informs how certain hereditary traits show up. Think of it like a recipe in a cookbook being used to make a dish; the DNA holds the instructions, and gene expression is the cooking process that brings those instructions to life.
All that is to say that you’re not fated to a terrible time on the road to menopause just because your mother struggled. To a large degree, you can control how much or how little you suffer with symptoms.
There are plenty of ways to manage symptoms caused by fluctuating hormones, namely low progesterone, and the roller-coaster ride with estrogen. I’ve discovered one way that works absolute wonders for me – cold plunging.
Before we dive in (pun intended!) I want to make clear that uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings, allergies, insatiable hunger, elevated or diminished sex drive are almost a given but suffering is optional.
Provided we are getting adequate exercise, good nutrition, regular time in nature, daily exposure to sunlight, sufficient sleep, and keeping healthy social connections, we can manage anxiety, discomfort, mood swings, and the whole lot of symptoms by paying attention to our experience with a balance of loving, compassionate awareness and rational problem-solving.
However – if you experience debilitating symptoms that are interfering with your daily life, seeing your health care practitioner is an absolute must.
All right, let’s plunge into the benefits of cold plunging for managing some of those symptoms.
Circulatory & hormonal benefits
Cold plunging works wonders on the circulatory system, dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow. This helps regulate the body’s temperature, making hot flashes less frequent and severe. By boosting circulation, you’re also promoting the efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, which can alleviate the fatigue often associated with perimenopause.
Additionally, cold plunging is believed to bring hormonal benefits. When the body is subjected to cold temperatures, it releases norepinephrine, a hormone that helps to reduce inflammation and improve mood. This could be particularly beneficial for women grappling with perimenopausal mood swings. In my experience, cold plunging, or even just regular cold showers can elevate the mood almost instantly. Cold delivers a shock to the system that I find invigorating and refreshing. The challenge is to withstand the cold long enough to feel the benefits.
Immunity boost & stress reduction
Immunity tends to wane as we age, and perimenopause is no exception. In fact, experts refer to perimenopause as a ‘critical window’ for health in that an existing health condition may be exacerbated during this time, and a totally new condition may arise. This may be related to a weakening immune system.
The good news is that cold plunging has been shown to increase the production of white blood cells, which helps strengthen the immune system. And let’s not forget the stress-reducing benefits. The initial shock of cold water I mentioned previously stimulates the production of endorphins, providing a natural ‘high’ that can help counteract the anxiety and depression symptoms often seen in perimenopause.
Energy & sleep enhancement
A good night’s sleep can be hard to come by during perimenopause. Interestingly, many cold plungers report experiencing deeper, more restful sleep after incorporating this practice into their routine. It’s believed that the decrease in body temperature, paired with the endorphin release, helps facilitate a better sleep environment, naturally countering perimenopausal insomnia. However – some experts suggest that soaking in warm water rather than cold is a better pre-bedtime practice because cold water initially drives the body’s inner thermostat up in order to return the body to homeostasis.
A complementary path: Reiki & hypnotherapy
Though cold plunging offers a natural pathway to symptom relief, I find other holistic practices like Reiki and hypnosis to be quite complementary. Reiki, an energy-healing technique, can balance your inner energies, while hypnotherapy can help shift your mindset and potentially relieve symptoms by changing your subconscious thoughts regarding perimenopause. As I’ve witnessed throughout my years of practice, this phase of life can trigger the resurfacing of unresolved childhood traumas, which may exacerbate physiological and emotional symptoms. Both Reiki and hypnosis can help manage and potentially resolve those traumas.
Ready to take the plunge?
Navigating the turbulent waters of perimenopause doesn’t have to be a lonely or uncomfortable endeavor. By incorporating natural practices like cold plunging, you can regain a sense of balance and vitality that turns this phase of life into an empowering experience rather than a challenge to endure. I’ve experienced the highs and lows of this phase of life intimately, and I am here to support any woman who needs a little help navigating this journey.
If you’re keen on exploring a holistic approach to perimenopausal symptom relief, let’s chat. Consider speaking to a certified hypnotist and Reiki energy healer to amplify your journey towards wellness. I can offer personalized guidance and techniques to help you manage symptoms and achieve a state of mental, emotional, and physical harmony. Take the plunge—both literally and metaphorically—towards greater well-being.
Contact me to schedule a time that’s convenient for you. I’m located in Durham Region, serving clients in Clarington and surrounding areas. I look forward to hearing from you.