Summer is just around the corner, which means that the days are going to get hotter and more humid. Therefore, it’s a great time to add “cold showers” into your daily routine!
Most of us do everything we can to remain comfortable. We rather stay inside when the weather is too hot or cold. All too often, we don’t push ourselves hard enough when we’re at the gym. Also, we are guilty of using technology to conserve our energy and make our lives easier (too easy sometimes).
However, having this kind of attitude will surely prevent you from becoming the best version of yourself. You need to step out of your comfort zone and face resistance if you want to keep growing! Having a “cold shower” every day is a great way for you to learn how to be comfortable with uncomfortable situations.
Since most of us view cold water as an aversive stimulus, we can use it as a tool to build our mental toughness. By exposing yourself to cold water every day, you will learn how to effectively cope with so-called unpleasant feelings (e.g., anxiety, fear, anger, pain). The secret is to remain present with those feelings and not judge them. You need to stop categorizing certain feelings as negative and just experience them for what they are. By doing so, you will remain more relaxed and confident when faced with challenging situations.
Apart from building your mental toughness, “cold showers” are associated with a multitude of other health benefits. Cold water immersion can increase your alertness, boost your immune system (Janský et al., 1996), decrease muscle soreness (Bleakley et al., 2012), and potentially fight off depression (Shevchuk, 2008).
From now on, immerse yourself in cold water at the end of every shower you take. Step back from the water, take 3 deep breaths and relax (close your eyes if you need to). Then turn the shower knob from hot to cold (preferably to the coldest setting). Immerse your body parts in the following order: feet, legs, thighs, hands, arms, torso, face, head, and back. As you immerse each body part, make sure that you focus on your breath. Take long, deep breaths and do not allow yourself to hyperventilate. If you do hyperventilate, it’s okay, your body simply needs to get used to it. Moreover, don’t judge your experience. Refrain from telling yourself that you feel terrible and cold. Just be with the cold and let yourself feel its rejuvenating power as much as possible. Start by immersing yourself in cold water for 15 seconds and then add 5 seconds to your total time each week until you reach 60 seconds. At that point, you can decide to step directly into a “cold shower” (without washing yourself first with warm water) to make your new daily routine a little bit more challenging.
Set goals. Do just one thing at a time. Keep it simple and smart. Do it consistently. Reflect on the process.
Bleakley, C., McDonough, S., Gardner, E., Baxter, D. G., Hopkins, T. J., Davison, G. W., & Costa, M. T. (2012). Cold-water immersion (cryotherapy) for preventing and treating muscle soreness after exercise. Sao Paulo Medical Journal, 130, 5, 348.
Janský, L., Pospíšilová, D., Honzová, S., Uličný, B., Šrámek, P., Zeman, V., & Kamínková, J. (1996). Immune system of cold-exposed and cold-adapted humans. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, 72, 445-450.
Shevchuk, N. A. (2008). Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Medical Hypotheses, 70, 995-1001.