You’ve probably heard some of the standard advice for dealing with hot flashes—cooling pillows, et cetera—but a group of bad-ass women in Gower, Wales, have a most unusual method. They gather and jump into the super-chilly surf (you can watch them in action here). In temperatures that are down into the 40s, they romp on the beach, holler, and feel like kids again. Says one member, Alison Owen, 49, “The start of it is just a thrill and excitement. It releases an inner child I suppose, it reminds you what you used to be like before you had kids, before you had a job, before you had a mortgage.”
In temperatures that are down into the 40s, they romp on the beach, holler, and feel like kids again.
Then they briefly plunge into the cold water. Did we mention they call their club the Gower Bluetits? That’s just how frigid the sea can feel! (There’s another group with a similar name—@TheBluetits on Facebook, who are based in Pembrokeshire, also in Wales.)
Member Patricia Woodhouse, 53, says these icy dips have helped with her menopause symptoms. “I feel that it’s been easier since starting this. The sweats and the night sweats haven’t been so bad. I also suffer with anxiety and I’ve found my anxiety levels don’t feel as bad either.”
A Strange Euphoria
Professor Mike Tipton, an expert in cold water swimming at the University of Portsmouth, has observed, “Most cold-water swimming involves exercise and socializing—two things we know can have a positive impact on mental health.” However, he admits, there are no definitive studies on the benefits and risks of this practice.
The cold shock releases stress hormones, the fight or flight response.
“Everybody knows that when you go into a cold shower you get a gasping ‘cold shock’ response,” he added. “This releases the body’s stress hormones, the fight or flight response—as a result people talk about feeling euphoric or high.” He does caution, though, that “people need to remember they are engaging in a potentially dangerous activity, that same response can stop you being able to hold your breath in water.”
We salute the Bluetits for their bravery and bold behavior and for finding a group activity that works for them, but we would have to say: Don’t try this at home without checking with your health-care professional first!