365 Days at 36.5 Degrees: Embrace the Ebb to Find the Flow

Ebb and flow is the natural cycle of life. The most powerful natural force on earth, the ocean, ebbs and flows. Ebb and flow, “A recurrent or rhythmical pattern of coming and going or decline and regrowth.” Decline and regrowth, literally the rhythm of life. If we recognized, accepted, and embraced the natural rhythm of life, would our life get better? Of course it would! It would relieve us of the unnecessary pressure we put on ourselves to find perfection in everything we do all the time.

What Does Ebb and Flow Have To Do with 365 at 36.5?

Everything! We can’t hide from life. It happens to us (or for us) and does not wait for us to decide. We find ebb and flow everywhere: world affairs, business, relationships, friendships, finances, family, and our own personal demons and angels. Since ebb and flow is a fact of life, we can all agree the ability to manage it is important. Of course, this begs the question, “How?”

Once again, the answer can be found in the cold. If you have taken on the challenge of 365 days of ice baths at 36.5 degrees (or some smaller variant like one week or one month at 36.5 degrees) then you are well aware of the accompanying ebbs and flows. And as such, you are well aware that, like life, you can not hide from the effects of the cold.

If you took on this challenge, you started strong and were excited and engaged…you flowed. After some time, you started to bore a little from the challenge. It was hard and you wondered if your time wasn’t better spent doing something different…you ebbed.

You even found ebb and flow on a micro level, like when you were actually in the cold shower or ice bath. At first you challenged yourself to remain calm, find your breath, and find peace amidst the chaos of the cold. Then you found yourself perhaps not setting the shower nozzle to its coldest setting because, well, you just didn’t feel like it. Or, you just jumped in and out of the ice bath because you “didn’t have time” (two minutes? really?) to stay in longer. Or, whatever other excuse you used to justify this ebb. 

Learn More About Yourself

The point of all of this cold exposure is to use it as a tool to find out more about yourself. Cold exposure will be a microcosm of how you handle the ebbs and flows of your life. How you handle the ebbs and flows of your life will depend on whether you even recognize them.

Once again, intention! Set your intention to recognize the ebbs and flows you experience during your days, weeks, months, or years of cold exposure. It is an intellectual drill to practice recognizing and adjusting to the natural rhythms of life.

The natural rhythm of life tells us we must have decline to have regrowth. Don’t fight it. Recognize it and embrace it. But we must be aware if we are spending too much time in ebb and delaying our regrowth. This awareness takes practice.

Your practice to recognize the ebb and flow of life, how you recognize it, and how you handle it will be found in the cold!

More to follow!

I’ll be posting about this regularly on my Instagram and I hope to update you weekly here on the blog. You can learn more about how I use cold exposure as a leadership tool in my book The Process, Art, and Science of Leadership. You can also read more about the benefits of cold exposure on leadership here.

Errol Doebler is the founder of Ice Cold Leader, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Ice Cold Leader to realize his passion of empowering great leaders and better human beings. Errol provides executive coachingkeynote speaking, and corporate retreats to individuals and teams across the world.

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