Breathing Exercises, Cold-Water Immersion, and Meditation: Mind–Body Practices Lead to Reduced Stress and Enhanced Well-Being

Troy Faid, MSc; William Van Gordon, PhD; Elaina C. Taylor, PhD



Stress is a key contributor to several major life-threatening illnesses including depression and cardiovascular disease. Behavioral strategies that enable individuals to regulate stress responses can lead to improved health and well-being. Such practices may also help reduce required clinical interventions, ease pressure on the National Health Service (NHS), and reduce the need for medical and psychological treatments. This study explores the effects of a novel mind-body therapy for stress reduction and enhanced well-being. A single-group longitudinal intervention design was applied in a study comprising 29 healthy volunteers. The 10-day program was delivered online and consisted of deep-breathing exercises, cold-water exposure, and mindfulness meditation. Participant measures of perceived stress, depression symptoms, and mental well-being were taken at baseline and after completing the 10-day program. A MANOVA analysis revealed significant pre-post intervention differences for all psychometric measures, suggesting the intervention elicited improvements in symptoms of stress, well-being, and depression. This study provides preliminary evidence supporting the efficacy of an innovative mind-body therapy that may be learned and used by individuals to help modulate stress responses, improve mood levels, and enhance well-being. Future research could utilize multi-modal controlled study designs to understand the psychophysiological mechanisms associated with the benefits this practice may generate. (Adv Mind Body Med. 2022;36(3):12-20.)

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