Wim Hof, Andrew Huberman and the Cold Plunge


I’m a big fan of the cold shower. In fact, the inspiration for this post came to me while taking one. On Monday morning I was feeling distracted and unable to focus. Between work and fun, I hadn’t time to unwind over the weekend, so Monday morning came much too soon.

Ironically, I just taught a class on graceful aging, where I talked about tools and resources for managing energy and emotions. And yet here I was stuck in overdrive less than one day later.

You know those mornings? Where you start doing one thing then halfway through move to another, then forget where you were and now you’re becoming agitated?

Luckily, I noticed in time to use one of my favorite interventions before I let it affect the rest of my day. I like to call it cold therapy, but it’s typically known as the cold shower.

Back in the day, cold showers were a reference to something else, but the practice has recently had a renaissance moment. Thanks to celebrated world record setter and breathwork master Wim Hof (aka the Ice Man), the cold shower is back to trending, this time for all the right reasons.

The oft-referenced Dr. Andrew Huberman continues to research this method for improving concentration and performance at Stanford. As it turns out, the benefits of deliberate cold exposure are extensive.

Findings show submerging or showering in cold water for one to five minutes instantly impacts hormone levels in the brain and bloodstream. Just like jumping into a freezing lake would, where the initial plunge is shocking but 5 minutes later you feel amazing. This isn’t new information. The Nordic Plunge, the sauna, cold plunge method popularized by Nordic cultures known for their health and longevity, has been practiced for centuries.

This lost art in modern society is one worth revisiting. One 2000 study published in the European Journal of Physiology that showed that brain’s reward hormone, dopamine increases by almost double for an hour or more, while excitement/energy/stress hormones like epinephrine, and even cortisol levels increase in measures that support the immune system and improve mood, concentration and focus.

The water should be comfortably cold but safe to stay in for 1-5 minutes. Dr. Huberman recommends 11 minutes total a week of this activity. Personally, I do 2-3 minutes during my daily shower.

I’ve been using this practice for close to 2 years, and I can honestly say that since I began combining breathwork and cold showers I have not needed to take an aspirin or pain reliever of any kind, in addition to all of the other great benefits mentioned above.

But it’s also why I’m so committed to this practice both for boosting energy, mood, and focus. I know, a cold shower sounds harsh, especially in winter, but it’s a safe way to try something challenging, AND you don’t have to go from zero to 60, you can start with 15 seconds and work your way up to more time.

By now, I’m so accustomed to doing this I don’t think twice about it – once the initial shock/excitement blast is over and I control my breathing, I start to feel warmer (and stronger!) right away.

The bottom line is, we often have more control over our stress, energy, and focus levels than we know. And when your ability to do your best thinking is swept away by stress, a quick cold shower is a great way to shift back to positive energy and focus – you don’t even need to get your hair wet!

If you’re ready for an extra challenge, make it part of your morning routine – after breathwork of course! Click here for a free 3-day workshop!

I’d love to hear how this works for you and any tips or tricks you want to share – and if it’s okay with you I’ll send them out in my next newsletter.

Links to references:


Ready to get started?

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

Posted in ,


  1. Madeline on May 5, 2023 at 4:23 am

    Hi! Do you get your hair wet during the cold shower?

  2. Elizabeth Borelli on May 5, 2023 at 7:01 am

    Hi Madeline,

    It depends – this may be TMI but I don’t wash my hair daily so unless I’m washing it, I keep it dry during the cold shower. I like to work all of these practices into my daily routine – and it’s important to keep in mind that things don’t have to be extreme to work!

    Thanks for your question! Elizabeth

Leave a Comment


Ready to bring the benefits of best practice breathing into your everyday life?

Schedule a complimentary discovery session with Elizabeth.


About Elizabeth

I’m Elizabeth Borelli, breathe into breakthrough success coach and author. By combining my years of coaching experience, a BA in psychology, multiple certifications in ICF-accredited life coaching, plant-based nutrition, and RYT 200 yoga teacher training, I’ve developed a unique mind-body approach to personal growth and professional success.