Imagine you just fell into a frozen lake.
Immediately, you are experiencing what science calls “cold shock response”. Your breath is short, your thoughts are scrambling, panic is setting in. Your heartbeat is fast. Super. Fast. Cold feet. Cold hands. Cold chest.
The blood is rushing to your head. You’re feeling light headed. You're treading water, but the weight of your clothes are pulling you down. You can think of almost nothing but panic. You are not remembering the Rescue 911 episodes from the 90s, you are not remembering how many days until Christmas. You are freezing and freaking out.
What do you do?
How do you save yourself from a frozen lake?
Well, if your intention is to live… you start to catch your breath.
Imagine yourself focusing.
Focusing on your breath.
In long distance runs, I count to four while running long distance. Even though I naturally take a breath every 3 steps, I was taught to wait til four, in order to regain control.
In, 2, 3, 4…… out, 2, 3, 4…
In the freezing cold waters, maybe we’re just shooting for 1 count in, one count out. One mississippi in, one mississippi out.
All you can do here, is breathe.. Just breathe. Force the ins, cradle the outs.
In........ pause........ out.
All of the thoughts of panic and doom and racing hearts are pulled back into the center in one deep, long, excruciating breath, followed by another intentional breath, and another, and again…
...each hypervent slightly less intense than the last.
You begin to regain your thoughts. You start to look around.
"I am in a cold lake."
You gather your resolve with each successful breath.
I am not dead yet. I am breathing.
.....I have my breath.
In. Out. In. Out. Mississippi, here I come.
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You just learned a survival tip.
Maybe you’re not intending on being in a frozen lake anytime soon,
or maybe you are ... There are reasons to be on a frozen lake, after all.
And likewise, there are ways to stay relatively safe while you do it. Ways to manage your risk. But if you do accidentally fall through the ice into a freezing cold lake, here is a mnemonic device to help save your life:
Developed by “Dr. Popsicle”, the Rule of 1-10-1 is Giesbrecht’s easy-to-remember surivaval tool reminding us of the effects of cold-water immersion on the human body, a topic the University of Manitoba professor has studied extensively.
Immediately upon submersion in freezing-cold water, you’ll be catapulted into “cold shock response”, a phenomenon exacerbated by panic.
Your first mission is to regain your breath.
You have 1 minute.
For 1 minute, you gather yourself. Collect your breath. and then you plan your way out. You have 10 minutes until you lose function of your hands and feet. 1 hour until you start dieing like that calathea you accidentally gave tap water to. 1 minute to catch your breath. 10 minutes to get out. 1 hour til you start to fade.
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Now.. I want you to go back to the glorious day you were having before the unexpected plunge. You are bundled and warm. Beating winter, as humans have learned to do with technical fabrics, wool socks, and a nice hat.
You can feel the crisp air bite your nose, but your core is warm.
you have snacks.
Now imagine the unexpected plunge, remember feeling the feeling of panic, but do not panic now. You are safe.
You are warming up. You are on the other side of the freezing cold panicked plunge. Your toes are warming up. Your thoughts are starting to float by.
You are out of the water, on dry land.. Wrapped in a blanket. There is a fire someone made for you, you can feel your toes, your heart is beating closer to normal, your mind is clearing up and your thoughts are mostly surrounding
Do you feel like you cheated death, or like you appreciate life? Like you’re meant to be on earth, with your amazing friends and family that are looking out for you,
or are you enamored by the kindness of strangers, the strength of your body, are you impressed with your personal ability to live when you thought, just an hour ago… you would die?
What does that feeling of winning through sheer will power feel like? Through focusing on your breath, and for gaining, as a reward, the chance for so many more breaths.
What do you think, now that you’ve lived through an unexpected fall into a frozen lake….
Of a cold shower?
Is it the end of the world? Or something doable?
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Have you ever held a practice of cold plunging? We'd love to hear your story.
Contact Earth to Daisy by clicking the button above or emailing email@example.com to be featured in our upcoming cold plunge benefits blog. Bbbb...brrrrr!