The Relaxing Reason You Should Start Your Day With A Facial Ice Water Bath

From placing your alarm somewhere in your bedroom where it requires you to get up and turn it off, to meditative prayer or journaling, much has been written about the benefits of having a regular morning routine (via Curry Psychology). It's easy to assume that a good night's rest will reset your worries from the day before and give you a fresh start. But you'll probably be familiar with waking up on certain mornings and feeling the anxieties from the previous day rushing to cloud your mind. Or perhaps you're just hungover following one too many tequila shots. 

Turns out there's a cure for both of those particular situations: Dipping your face in an ice water bath, per Well and Good. Giving yourself a quick ice water bath first thing in the morning can activate what is called the mammalian diving reflex, according to The Inertia — isn't it cool how our bodies have retained certain evolutionary hacks that kept our ancestors alive? So, what exactly happens when you spend a few seconds submerging your nostrils and eyes in ice-cold water? 

Your heart rate slows down when you give yourself a facial ice water bath

Talk about finding a unique way to start your day in a good mood. The mammalian diving reflex, according to clinical and forensic neuropsychologist Judy Ho, Ph.D., forces your breathing and heart rate to slow down considerably, to conserve your energy, per Well and Good. Your body's parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for making you feel relaxed, gets triggered when you dip your face in cold water. You can therefore calm your anxiety down considerably by indulging in this daily ritual, as Get the Gloss discovered after trying it out. 

According to Thriva's clinical innovation associate Dr. Noel Young, your heart rate increases when your sympathetic nervous system is influenced by stress, "So lowering your heart rate by sending calming feedback to the vagus nerve can help assuage these panicky surges, providing quick relief from tension." 

There's more. Turning to this cold water trick every morning could also potentially be beneficial to your skin, although the effects may not be dramatic or long-lasting. In addition to being a good exfoliator, submerging your face in cold water can cause your capillaries to tighten and also improve lymph function, according to dermatologist Dr. Sidra Shakir. If you're looking for an instant wake-me-up and soothed and rejuvenated skin, you may want to try this out — particularly if you're feeling the effects from the night before (via TikTok). 

How to do a facial ice water bath properly

Thankfully, there's not much else to it than submerging your face in cold water, really. While some people, like Bella Hadid, prefer to submerge their faces in water filled with ice cubes, the choice of how cold the water is, is totally dependent on personal preference, as Doctor Ali clarified on YouTube. The one crucial component is that you choose a bowl or sink that'll comfortably hold your face while you dip it in and that you remain submerged in the cold water for at least 15 to 30 seconds (via Well and Good). 

Make sure you can breathe and you're not choking too, as Judy Ho, Ph.D., cautioned. Further, clinical innovation associate Dr. Noel Young added a few other considerations before you attempt this facial in the mornings. Be mindful of the breaths you take before you submerge your face in the cold water, as he told Get the Gloss. No deep inhaling is required, so just breathe as you would normally. 

"Your heart rate slows within 10 to 30 seconds of holding your breath. But if you breathe in too deeply, this may take longer," he explained. Well, there you have it. Something refreshing to try when you get out of bed in the morning feeling a bit grumpy, which is sure to leave you with calmer energy to tackle the day ahead. Perhaps you can throw in some relaxing practices before you go to sleep as well.