Brrrrr...you may not welcome this one, but it is a time-proven method. Folks do it around the world in nature and in nordic spas and we can do it at home in the shower or simply at the sink.
Exposing our body to acute cold conditions, such as taking a cold shower or splashing cold water on our face, increases stimulation of the vagus nerve (parasympathetic nervous system).
Sympathetic activity is heightened energy which is good if you are exercising or trying to survive but is counterproductive if you are seeking calm and safety. Parasympathetic activity, the vagal nerve, offers us a state of healing, growth, repair, calm and connection.
While our body adjusts to the cold, sympathetic activity declines and parasympathetic activity increases. This is a great way to prepare for sleep, thus a good time to do this is right before bed.
Another positive affect is increased blood and lymphatic circulation. After not moving as much as you desire during the day, or after lying down during a full night's sleep, this could help your heart move things along.
Maybe give it a try. It may not be easy in the beginning, but you might increase the duration by one second each day. I have come to love this practice!
Playtime (aka Practices)
Influence your Nervous system
Begin with your regular warm/hot shower. Focus on belly breathing. Next, aim towards experiencing a cold that takes your breath away. That is the sweet spot. Just 10-20 seconds will do the trick, yet the longer the better. You may choose to do several rounds like this. We end with cold water. You may notice that as you towel off, you actually feel warm. What else do you notice?
Daily practice will increase the resilience of your nervous system. It will widen our window of tolerance and strengthen your vagal brake (future blog posts).