Life coach Hattie MacAndrews is on a mission to increase her happiness following a brutal breakup. In her new column for HELLO! she's been trialing a variety of wellness rituals to see which actually make a difference
From- soothing baths and calming walks to listening to music and sweating it out in the gym, everyone has their own unique way to help them heal heartbreak – but when you're in the depths of despair, it can be hard to know what will work for you.
"There's a lot of noise out there in the wellness industry, with an abundance of treatments, therapies and professionals on offer, all promising to boost our general wellbeing and in turn make us happier. But what really works and how do you know where to start?" questions life coach Hattie MacAndrews.
Following a sudden, painful break-up, Hattie set out on a mission to cut through the noise and find out what really works when it comes to finding happiness.
In her new column for HELLO!, Hattie set about exploring everything and anything she could to support her happiness post-break-up, with some seriously interesting findings.
Hattie MacAndrews is trying out wellness rituals in the name of happiness
This week she tried out cold water therapy. Loved by everyone from Amanda Holden and Lorraine Kelly to Joe Wicks and Russell Brand, there's some serious science behind why cold water can make us happier.
How does cold water therapy make us happier?
"Cold water immersion stimulates endorphins to improve mood to help combat stress, anxiety and depression," explains Dr. Sarah Brewer, medical director of supplement brand Healthspan.
"Cold water keeps you in the moment, so it's the ultimate form of mindfulness," Dr. Brewer continues. "It helps to achieve calm meditation as you focus on your breathing."
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Studies support the mental health benefits of cold water therapy too. Research by Swim England for World Mental Health Day found that of those who partake in cold water swimming regularly, 43 per cent said it made them feel happier, 26 per cent felt more motivated to complete daily tasks and 15 per cent said life felt more manageable after cold water therapy.
Ali Phillips, who instructs wild swimming sessions at the Lake District spa Armathwaite Hall explains that cold water therapy gives us a chance to switch off – ideal if you find your mind still whirs during yoga or breathwork sessions.
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"Once you're immersed in the cold water you are fully in that experience and forget about everything else," she says. "Although cold water therapy is not prescribed as medicine, people are encouraged to take part if they suffer with mental health issues."
So how did Hattie get on?
Anyone who's experienced heartbreak will know how it can feel like you're living under a bleak cloud that never seems to lift – and this is what cold water therapy helped Hattie with.
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I tried cold water therapy: here's what happened
"My normal morning routine is foggy and I am reluctant to confess that I start most days feeling exhausted, slow and reluctant to get going," Hattie admits.
"I decided to ease myself into cold water therapy with a cold shower. In the depths of winter, the full-body-bath plunge that the Hemsworth brothers and Joe Wicks are known for felt like something I needed to work myself up to.
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"I started off by showering at my normal temperature and once I was squeaky clean, I switched the water to (very) cold for the last 20 seconds. I survived! I increased the time each morning, and throughout the course of the week I became hooked on how I felt afterwards – not during, though.
Hattie MacAndrews eased herself into cold water therapy
Did cold showers make me happier?
"Starting the day with a cold blast of water gave me an immense feeling of satisfaction, knowing that I'd pushed myself through the initial discomfort. After the first couple of days, having worked up to a minute in the cold, the difference in my morning mindset was remarkable.
"My mind was focused, I felt calm and alert, and my productivity increased enormously. Any morning fogginess was immediately lifted, and it lasted throughout the day.
"It was also brilliant for relieving any fatigue in my muscles after the gym, and inflammation in my joints.
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"Not for the fainthearted, it's certainly not the easiest way to start the day, but the rewards outweigh any initial discomfort. While I enjoyed the week experimenting, I'm not sure I’m tough enough to start every day like this.
"However, it's something I'll be keeping in my happiness toolkit, especially for those days I need an instant boost. I don't believe it gets any easier, but you'll feel proud of yourself for pushing through and persevering. Plus, it gives you bragging rights in the office."
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