Is anyone else giving themselves a massive pat on the back and a huge selfie high five for getting through January?
Honestly, it’s got to be the most challenging month of the year in which to stay motivated and focused. So this year I decided to challenge myself to brighten up the coldest darkest time with some cold exposure. As contradictory as it sounds, it worked!
My river journey began last March when I received a message from a friend asking if I fancied joining her the next day to get into the River Frome. I drafted and deleted a whole series of replies outlining why I couldn’t go, then realised I was just making excuses out of fear, so agreed with some trepidation to meet her. Initially, the water temperature would give me a headache, but after a while, it got possible to go in deeper into the water. To my amazement, after 9 months of occasional swims – if you can call them that – my body adjusted and it became ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘OK’ being submerged in the cold, depending on the day. I’ve heard so much about ‘getting comfortable with being uncomfortable that I decided to stick with it. What was noticeable was the massive endorphin rush after getting out and getting warm, which is what kept me going back.
I decided to use my Christmas holiday to really go for it. I went in the river every day for 8 days, apart from New Year’s Day when I went in the sea, which was a balmy 11.5 degrees c.
Having achieved my goal of 8 consecutive days of wild water visits I drove to Gloucester to visit John Myatt (ice_mindset on Instagram) a cross channel swimmer and Team GB ice swimmer who has an ice tub in his garden. Yes. I got in. And stayed in for a few minutes. 8 minutes in fact, at 0.8c. It was an extreme mindset exercise with an interesting effect on my physiology. I felt completely clear and focused afterwards.
I’ve been back for a second ice bath, this time sitting in the sun in the wood-fired Dutch Tub, a hot tub, where I asked John how he became a cross channel swimmer. I think we should definitely conduct more interviews in hot tubs after ice baths.
Since getting into cold exposure I’ve been watching more of Wim Hof’s videos and reading more about the benefits of the cold, and I think I might have become a fan of this extreme activity. Certainly, I have met some interesting and inspiring people who I would not have met before. People who encourage me to push myself outside my comfort zone. After all, that’s where the magic happens….
We are capable of so much more than we imagine.
Clare Honeyfield is a yoga teacher, coach, and entrepreneur based in Stroud and working globally to help women creatives overcome procrastination and achieve greatness through the development of self-belief, self-care, and community.