Imagine yourself waking up on a dreary Monday morning. It’s late in the year here in the Northeast and the sun refuses to rise at a reasonable hour. In the pitch darkness, you find your bearings and double-check that today is in fact Monday. Once established, you reluctantly wrestle your way out of bed, fumble around for the light switch, and put on some clothes. You sluggishly make your way to the bathroom for the start of your weekday routine.
You use the toilet and take a look at your tired self and crazy hairdo in the mirror. As you brush your teeth, you relentlessly fret about all of the day’s to-dos: the emails, the phone calls, a late afternoon status meeting with your boss. On top of this, you’re only on day one of five with a long trudge to the weekend. Finishing up your daily dental ritual, you turn on the shower and hop in. The water is ice cold.
What a terrible way to start your week!
I’m sure some of you have encountered this exact scenario. Whether the culprit was a faulty water heater, power outage, or family of four that beat you to the punch, nobody likes a cold shower, especially in the winter.
Maybe this is so, and out of those unfortunate enough to face the frigid flow, how many managed to get in and get down to business anyways? How many did it again the next day?
Early this fall I made the curious decision to indulge in daily cold showers.
I’m not sure exactly why I decided to take on the challenge, but I had heard of some of the purported health benefits and was looking for a new way to really wake up in the morning.
The idea came to fruition one day while taking a hot shower (where most people get their best ideas). I remember a friend telling me about the so-called “James Bond Shower” and how the character would end every hot shower with a shot of cold. As I finished up my piece, I decided to toss the lever all the way to the blue side for the last few seconds.
I was instantly in shock as the chilly water washed over my body.
Without thinking, I groped for the handle and quickly shut the water off.
Wow, that was cold.
I thought twice about my decision and wondered how I would make it through a full shower if I couldn’t even bear even a few seconds of unheated tap water. Nevertheless, I decided to try it out again the next day…and then the day after that.
- Each day I tried to stay in the cold portion of the shower a little bit longer, getting accustomed to the quick temperature shift and acquainting myself with the uncomfortable feeling.
- I did so consistently and made sure that every day’s shower ended with a short period of cold, regardless of how I felt in any given day.
- As the time went on, the new habit provided motivation to keep up the winning streak and I soon lost track of days that I had worked on my new regimen.
About a month into my experiment, I decided to go cold turkey, pun intended.
Neglecting my usual warm-up, I jumped straight into the brisk water and did my best to not gasp and hop around uncontrollably. My shivering hands floundered with the shampoo and body wash, and I began to wash myself off as quickly and efficiently as possible.
After a few moments of panic, a sense of calm ensued. I realized that the initial consternation of the chilly water would eventually pass, and my body and mind would adjust to the mild trauma rather quickly. Although I could still sense the tingly, cold sensation on my skin, the severity of its bite became less and less apparent. My breathing slowed and my mind became clear and fully in the present. For the first time in a while, I felt truly refreshed.
The best part of a cold shower comes at the very end.
As I turned the water off and stepped out on to the bathroom floor, I felt an incredible rush of relief and rejuvenation. The air felt warm and comforting but lacked the usual stickiness and steaminess after a hot shower. My warm towels soothed my slightly reddened skin as I dried myself off.
As the blood rushed back to my extremities, I sensed a heightened sense of alertness and overall energy. I looked into my crystal clear bathroom mirror with a smile and felt alive and ready to start my day.
It’s now nearly December and I have persisted my cold water challenge for a couple months now.
I plan on continuing the practice throughout the winter and hopefully incorporate it into my lifestyle. Over the past few weeks, as winter fast approaches, I’ve noticed a marked difference in water temperature, especially on crisp mornings. Nonetheless, I seem to have adjusted without any major complaints. We’ll see how it goes in January…
Here are some of my major remarks:
- Cold showers force you to start each day with a bang. They wake you up instantly and the initial shock of the cold water brings clarity to your mind and thoughts.
- You feel incredible as soon as you step out of the shower, and you carry that feeling into the start of your day. I find it much quicker and more effective than a cup of coffee.
- The practice is a test of willpower: some days are better than others, and on several dull mornings, I’ve struggled with thought of jumping into that icy bath.
- However, when you do accomplish your morning ritual, you feel ready to tackle the rest of the day’s challenges. The rationale: if you can make it through a cold shower, you can make it through just about anything the day throws at you.
- I believe that suffering through brief spats of discomfort makes for a stronger person in the long-run, both mentally and physically. It’s much in line with lifting weights, going for a run, or a hiking a mountain.
- By enduring the minor stress of a cold shower each day, one can develop better resilience to some of the demands and stresses of daily life.
Other possible benefits:
- Improved circulation: Your circulatory system gets a brief workout while you shift from warmth to cold, and then back to warmth.
- Weight loss: Some believe that cold showers can help stimulate brown fat, which can help boost caloric consumption within the body.
- Healthier skin and hair: While hot showers tend to have a drying effect, cold showers can help your hair and skin retain essential oils, especially important in the winter.
- More environmentally-friendly: You will likely take quicker showers and use less water and energy, which is better for the planet.
- No more foggy mirrors: You can brush your teeth and shave in plain sight.
- More thoughts: Benefits of Cold Showers: 7 Reasons Why Taking Cool Showers Is Good For Your Health
So, what do you think?
Have any of you already incorporated shivery showers into your daily groove? Are some of you curious to try it out? I’m not a medical or wellness expert and just recently started the experiment this year, so I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on the topic!