Enhancing Mental Health Through Contrast Therapy

The Brain Boosting Power of Contrast Therapy

In a fast-paced world that's constantly buzzing with to-do lists, boring chores and changing demands, prioritising self-care and mental health is more crucial than ever. While traditional methods of therapy and mindfulness exercises are well-known, an emerging trend has taken the wellness scene by storm: it’s us. Contrast therapy is our bread and butter (grass-fed, of course). 

Contrast therapy involves the hot/cold mix of sauna and ice bath. Beyond its physical benefits, new research suggests that this unique practice also holds the key to enhancing mental health. So, grab your towel and prepare to dive into the warmth of understanding the connection between mental wellbeing and contrast therapy.


The Science

Contrast therapy is legit. It’s rooted in the concept of subjecting the body to extreme temperatures – alternating between heat and cold. Dr. Andrew Huberman, a prominent neuroscientist, explains that this practice can impact the brain in ways that support mental health. According to Huberman, heat exposure, like that experienced in saunas, can stimulate the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein crucial for neuronal growth, synaptic plasticity, and overall cognitive function. On the other hand, cold exposure, such as ice baths, can trigger the release of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter linked to alertness, focus and mood regulation. In short, it makes your brain happy.

Susanna Söberg, a specialist in cold and heat exposure, supports this notion. She emphasises that the controlled stress induced by extreme temperatures can enhance the body's ability to cope with stressors, both physical and psychological. When our bodies learn to adapt to stress in a controlled environment, they become more resilient to the stressors encountered in daily life.


Brain Benefits

While embarking on a contrast therapy journey might seem pretty out there, the mental health benefits that accompany contrast therapy are seriously incredible:

  • Stress reduction: Contrast therapy acts as a reset button for your stress response system. The alternation between heat and cold can help regulate cortisol levels, reducing overall stress and promoting relaxation.
  • Mood elevation: The release of endorphins during contrast therapy can lead to a noticeable uplift in mood. Endorphins, often referred to as "feel-good" hormones, contribute to feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
  • Improved sleep quality: Exposure to extreme temperatures can help regulate the sleep-wake cycle by influencing the body's production of melatonin. This, in turn, can lead to better sleep quality and overall restfulness.
  • Enhanced resilience: The controlled stress induced by contrast therapy trains your body to better handle stressors, fostering a sense of resilience that can translate into improved mental strength.
  • Mind-body connection: Engaging in contrast therapy necessitates focus and mindfulness as you navigate between heat and cold. This can foster a stronger mind-body connection, promoting mindfulness and relaxation. 

Our Take

As a strong advocate and provider of contrast therapy in Western Australia, at Löyly, we’re in love with the holistic benefits of this practice. Löyly saunas provide a soothing heat experience, while ice baths offer an invigorating plunge into cold water. The balance between these extremes can not only boost circulation and detoxification but also nurture mental wellbeing.

In a world where self-care is paramount, contrast therapy emerges as an exciting and effective way to bolster mental health. The combination of sauna sessions and ice baths offers a refreshing approach to stress reduction, mood elevation and resilience building. 

So, if you’re seeking to enhance your mental wellbeing, now is the time to take the plunge into the world of contrast therapy. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

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