The first time this decade I plunged into the sea was prompted by a killer hangover, after celebrating moving into my new flat. Part promised panacea, part dare, I leapt into a sea pool and felt the cold take my breath away. Gasping for breath and being slapped in the face by waves, I flailed through the pewter water in a desperate effort to get warm. And then the water took my breath away in a deeper, more metaphorical sense. I felt euphoric. Not just less wine-fuzzy; I felt better than I had in weeks. Something that started as a hungover dare quickly turned into my newest healthy addiction and soon I was bereft if the tides conspired with my working day to make me miss my one-kay swim.
Cold-water bathing is shifting from being a granny sport to something of a hipster cliché. Just ask advocates like podcast legend Tim Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Work Week) and Kate Hudson, who uses ice baths to axe dull and tired skin.
But zeitgeisty as it may be, this newfound compulsion to be cold isn’t just confined to a coastal dip. Until recently, being cold has been unfairly maligned. It’s heat that’s been, well, hot in the health world. Hot-stone massages, infrared saunas, Bikram yoga and sweat lodges are nothing new. Cold, we’ve been told, is best avoided for the sake of our health.
We worry that being stuck shivering at the bus stop will make us ill; we moan if our off