The Face Dunk: A TikTok Tidbit
If you’ve seen the hundreds (thousands) of people on TikTok dunking their faces in ice water and touting its help with anxiety or the afternoon slump and wondered what’s up with that – there is some science to support the claims.
The slight sense of panic that comes from the shock of the cold or holding your breath may activate the stress response, making you feel alert. If you’re feeling the afternoon slump, a cold shock may help you refocus and perk up.
It’s thought that the cold water activates the sympathetic nervous system, which can help you tone your vagus nerve, which can ultimately help your nervous system to work better. When it’s working better, it communicates with the rest of the body’s organs impacted by the nervous system, and the body is thought to become better able to respond to stress over time as it becomes “toned”.
Is it necessary to stick your face in a bowl full of icy water to get the effect, though? I’m not sure how many people can actually dunk their heads in ice water halfway through their workday. I certainly can’t. My clients would wonder why my make up was melting off and my hair was wet!
You know what I can do? Use a gel-iced face mask like this one. These reusable things go in the freezer and you can pull them out and experience the topical anti-inflammatory effects and the positive effects of cold temps on the nervous system. If you’re able to, give this a try and let me know how you felt after having in on for a bit! I tend to leave mine on for 10-15 minutes.
Always check with your doctor if you have any medical conditions before trying out anything physical! And...remember, I'm a therapist, but if I'm not your therapist, this may not be a great tip for you :)