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September's Tip.

Hannah Walker

6 Sept 2023

How does cold water and ice help with anxiety?

The vagus nerve.

It is believed that the vagus nerve plays a crucial role in our flight or fight response. The vagus nerve runs from your brainstem to your abdomen all the way down (Cunic, 2023). Stress can affect our vagus nerve in a negative way (Cunic, 2023). Overstimulating and stress impacting our vagus nerve can lead to problems such as depression and anxiety and may also increase your risk to being susceptible to diseases (Cunic, 2023). There are a number of ways you can destress the vagus nerve through deep breathing, meditation and exercise and cold water (Cunic, 2023).

How does cold water with anxiety?

Not only does water around the face or neck help as a distraction technique from panic attack or anxiety symptoms but research now also suggests that by activating your vagus nerve through using a cold compress for several seconds on the back of your neck or chest may help to calm you down and ease symptoms (PsychCentral, 2022). You may try other techniques such as splashing your face with water or taking a cooler bath or ice bath. Research suggests that a shift in your parasympathetic nervous symptom by cold exposure may reduce anxiety or panic attack symptoms (PsychCentral, 2022).

Before trying this technique especially ice baths please speak with your healthcare professional.

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