The Joy of Freezing Your Butt Off: Why Cold Water Dipping is Addictive

If someone had told me a few years ago that I’d be plunging into ice cold water 100 mornings in a row, I would not have believed it. Leaving a warm, cozy bed in the morning can sometimes be challenging. Even so, as a former non-believer, I promise you – cold water dipping is amazing and addictive. In fact, cold water immersion is life changing! A few minutes of cold torture followed by a day full of energy and bliss. Somehow, I immersed my body in cold water all through winter for 100 days straight.

A woman in a pink bathing suit and winter hat in the ocean at sunrise.

This post may contain affiliate links, please see the privacy policy for details.

Cold water dipping or cold plunges can be an exhilarating and refreshing experience, offering a unique way to invigorate your body. I managed to do it for 100 days in a row!

What Is Cold Water Immersion?

If you live in a cold northern region as I do, you might have encountered some fearless people shouting from a lake or river in the middle of winter. And no, they’re not asking for help; they’re doing this voluntarily!  Cold water dipping or cold water immersion is exactly that. Getting your ass into freezing water. Whether it’s an ice bath or a swim in the icy cold water of a lake, ocean or river.

A woman cold dipping in an orange bathing suit in a river on a snowy winter day.

How I Started Cold Dipping

I started this cold water swimming challenge because a friend has been doing cold dips occasionally, and I got curious too. Little did I know that one cold plunge would turn into one week, then one month, then 100 consecutive days. Every. Single. Day.

A woman in a winter hat in the cold ocean water at sunrise.

Trust me, I am not some superwoman immune to freezing temperatures, though that’d be awesome! Some days are difficult – really difficult. Nonetheless, as I passed two to three weeks, I felt the most strenuous part of the challenge was behind me.

Two woman cold water swimming in the ocean in the winter.

My body started to adapt to the cold water shock. I saw my body reduce the water shock response. As my body adapted, my heart and breathing rates didn’t rise as much, I felt less panic and could control my breathing. For what it’s worth, I can guarantee one thing – it will be tough at first, but it is oh-so-worth it.

A woman in a green jacket and bathing suit on a winter day outside.

Taking The First Step

You don’t have to fly to Canada to try out winter swimming. Ice baths or cold showers in your own house will do just fine! If it helps, you can decorate your bath with nature pictures and imagine you’re out here with the cold dipping community. Afterward, when you feel ready to try it outdoors – don’t wait for the perfect conditions. There is no perfect time to start. Just pick a day and do it.

Two woman cold plunging at a waterfall in the cold weather.

I started my challenge just after Christmas. I live on the west coast of British Columbia on Vancouver Island, where the weather is rainy, windy, and cold all winter. Think of it this way – you show up to work when it’s raining, so do it. This is how I show up for myself!

A woman walking into the ocean in the winter at sunrise.

Fight or Flight Response

When you start doing cold water plunges, you will immediately recognise the cold water shock response. When you get in the water, you gasp involuntarily, then hyperventilate. Adrenaline will be surging through your body, and your heart will race. It is intense!

A woman cold water swimming in a frozen river.

It will feel like panic. During that period, your blood pressure will skyrocket, and glucose and fats will be released into your bloodstream, providing an energy source to make a quick escape. This is the fight or flight response due to the cold shock.

Talking with your health professional before you start your cold water immersion journey is very important.

A woman running out of the the cold ocean water at sunrise in the winter.

Finding Your Community

You can do it alone or find a community of local cold water swimmers to join. Look on social media using hashtags (#coldplunge, #colddipping, #coldwaterswimming) and see if you see posts from others in your local area.

Two women walking into the ocean at sunrise in the wintertime.

Cold Water Swimming or Sitting

Sometimes I walk slowly and mindfully, and sometimes, I run straight into it. Sometimes I go alone and sometimes convince friends to go with me. Let me tell you, if you can make someone go into five °C degree water voluntarily, that’s a true friend! The water is often very shallow, so I sit down and lean back into the water. Other times I sit and wait for the waves to wash over me. Do what feels right for you. Check out my TikTok, where I posted each cold water dip each of the 100 days if you haven’t already.

A woman in a winter hat in the cold ocean water at sunrise.

Why Cold Water Therapy Is Good for You

On a slightly more serious note – getting into cold water activates endorphins in your system and is an instant natural high. That doesn’t sound that bad, does it? I can’t attest to health perks but only to my experience.

A woman in a long green jacket standing by a lake.

Some say there are many health benefits from cold water immersion. It improves your circulation, immune system, and mental and physical health. Some also say fat loss, weight loss and reduced inflammation lead to improved cardiovascular health. However, I have not read any solid evidence of all these health effects.

Sleepless Nights No More

One of the biggest differences cold plunges made to my health was improved sleep at night. I slept great and woke up more alert in the mornings. It was a good thing!

A woman in a striped bathing suit in the cold ocean water.

Mental Health Benefits

Besides better sleep, cold water dipping enhanced my mood, and I had a new sense of clarity throughout my day. Turns out that all I had to do was become a polar bear and plunge myself into freezing water! Oh wait, I am still not a bear. I am a human. And it hurts. It pains. It shivers. But you will be addicted and happy as I am.

A woman in an orange bathing suit in a lake.

Winter depression from the reduced daylight is tough for me. Getting outside for my cold water plunge daily helped me improve my mood.

This Is the Best Excuse to Wear Your New Beanie

Since I live near the water, I have a wide selection of swimsuits. That said, it is not the most important piece of clothing to bring! A warm beanie, warm clothes and a few towels will go a long way when winter swimming. Some of my friends wear a wetsuit, which protects you from the elements and can be helpful if you are starting. Moreover, I always bring my Red Original changing robe and rubber Birkenstock sandals. Those are lifesavers! Any long-style paddle-boarding jacket or swim parka will work great.

A woman staying warm in a green jacket with a hood.

Get Yourself That Piece Of Cake You Wanted Last Night

As soon as you’re out of the water, it is very important to get warm. Make sure to have a hot drink ready. However, it’s best to have something without caffeine as it might slow your blood circulation. Hot cocoa might do just nicely! Snacks can help restore your energy levels too. How about a piece of cake to go with that coco?

A woman cold plunging in a lake.

Are You a Thrill-Seeker Looking for Your Next Challenge?

If you’ve made it this far in this article – here’s your sign. You must commit to a cold-water plunge. Just one. That’s all I’m asking. The second one is on you. And trust me; there will be a second one; it is addictive!

Safety Tips for Cold-Water Dipping

As with everything in life, being aware of potential risks and looking after your safety is important. The initial effect of a cold-water plunge puts a lot of stress on your body, and it is important to know your limits. Talking with your health professional before you start your cold water immersion journey is very important.

A woman cold dipping in a river on a snowy day.

Consider trying the experience first at your own home or in warmer waters. Also, consider wearing a wetsuit and make sure to immerse yourself gradually. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Listen to your body and find your own pace.

It is important to take the practice of cold water dipping seriously. Prepare adequately to be able to enjoy this experience safely.  Only dip your body in cold, open waters for very short periods. Also, make sure that you have clothing to warm back up afterwards.

Silhouette of a woman in the ocean at sunrise.

Why You’re Going to Love Freezing Your Butt Off

A whole load of us nutters out there keep going into freezing waters. You might do it for your mental or physical health. It might be the next challenge to conquer. You might blindly follow a friend once; now, it’s part of your identity. Whatever the reason, we are all addicted, and we welcome you to join this crazy community!

You Might Also Like

Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for recipes, dogs, sustainability, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.

Bella Bucchiotti is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer for MSN and the Associated Press Wire.


Welcome to xoxoBella! You will find delicious recipes, travel inspiration and all the things that Bella loves.

Leave a Comment

  1. Tracy wrote:

    I could not do this! So crazy to have completed 100 days in a row.

    Posted 4.10.23 Reply