North coast oldies (their description!) brave the cold in ice bath mental health workshop

A group of north coast ice bath enthusiasts and cold water dippers recently took part in a guided breathwork and ice bath experience in Portstewart.

Funded by Causeway Rural and Urban Network, under the project heading of ‘mental health & suicide prevention Community Development Support Model’, Tiernan McAlister from 'Elemental Breathwork', sensitively led the 'oldies' on their journey to experiencing the benefits of ice bathing through meditation, breathing techniques, and ice bath therapy.

The participants of all ages right up to 83 all agreed that it was the experience of a lifetime. The day began with a meditative breathwork session to allow everyone to feel calm and relaxed. Tiernan then demonstrated how to use techniques to control breathing when submerged in freezing cold water, allowing the participants to be composed and to learn to self-regulate.

The group had heard that ice bathing can improve blood flow, reduce inflammation and release "happy chemicals" (neurotransmitters) such as endorphins and dopamine that makes people feel good and boost their mood.

Using the ice bath provides an opportunity to learn about ourselves and how to regulate breathing under an initially stressful situation. The participants learnt that breathing has a direct connection to our autonomic nervous system, resulting in entering into a restful state simply by changing our breathing.

One of the participants said: “Coming together as a group, we experienced the support of each other as we went through the process. Additionally, the group experienced a profound bonding, hence benefiting both at an individual and group level.

"Having Tiernan constantly present to advise on the importance of breathing slowly in the water was really beneficial to the 'newbies'. We learnt to recognise our limits so started with the recommended two or three minute time sessions. As a result, everyone achieved their own, personal goal, which was, indeed, three minutes. Without a doubt, it was agreed that, all returned home exuding an abundance of 'happy chemicals'.

"Thank you CRUN and thank you Elemental Breathwork.”