Updated: Apr 26, 2020
If you are anything like me, you LOVE taking a hot shower.
There is nothing quite like the feeling after turning on the shower tap and feeling that warm water hit your skin - it's the next best thing next to soaking up the sun on a sun-lounger.
For most of my life I took looooong, hot showers. When I was in school, I had built a reputation in my family for taking the longest showers between all 4 of us. I knew this because I always managed to finish the hot water in our 200L geyser on my own.
Taking that hot shower was my form of escape, it made me feel good and I did what I could to extend that moment for as long as I could.
Years later, in my journey of self-discovery, I started reading up on the benefits of doing things outside of your comfort zone and how you can build self-resilience and self-confidence by doing things that you dislike every single day, and it was through this process that I confronted the notion of cold showers as it was one of the key things I feared the most.
In addition I found out that there were also numerous benefits to cold showers:
Reduced stress levels. Regularly taking cold showers imposes a small amount of stress on your body, which leads to a process called hardening. This means that your nervous system gradually gets used to handling moderate levels of stress. The hardening process helps you to keep a cool head the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation.
Higher level of alertness. Cold showers wake your body up, inducing a higher state of alertness. The cold also stimulates you to take deeper breaths, decreasing the level of CO2 throughout the body, helping you concentrate. Cold showers thus keep you ready and focused throughout the day.
More robust immune response. Scientific studies have found that taking a cold shower increases the amount of white blood cells in your body. These blood cells protect your body against diseases. Researchers believe that this process is related to an increased metabolic rate, which stimulates the immune response.
Increased willpower. It takes a strong mind to endure the cold for extended periods of time. By incorporating cold showers into your daily routine, you are strengthening your willpower, which benefits many aspects of (your) daily life.
Weight loss. Research has shown that cold showers (and exposure to cold in general), in addition to increasing metabolic rate directly, stimulate the generation of brown fat. Brown fat is a specific type of fat tissue that in turn generates energy by burning calories. Cold showers, then, are an effective tool for people who are looking to lose a few pounds.
Source: Wim Hof Method (https://www.wimhofmethod.com/benefits-of-cold-showers)
When I told my wife about my intention to start this new cold shower habit, she refused to believe that I would even attempt a cold shower (because my early habit had progressed into my adult life). However, I started with the habit and it progressed over a few weeks until she started to notice the differences. The most pronounced was my energy levels and my general positive outlook first thing in the morning - a drastic change from my sombre mood a few weeks prior.
The less evident external benefit was my self-belief level.
The thing is, when you start doing hard things on a daily basis, you begin to re-write the script that you have lived with. I had grown up believing that it was impossible for me to even attempt a cold shower. The notion was just too hard to comprehend. Every day that I took a cold shower I was slowly chipping away at that limiting belief and re-building a belief in myself and my abilities - if I could do something I thought was impossible (at least in my mind), then what else could I do? The possibilities were endless.
Today, taking a cold shower is still hard. I do not look forward to it but I still do it. Yes, there are days when I dread it and wish that I could allow myself some warm water but I know how important it is to stay consistent with commitments that I have made to myself, and one of those is taking a cold shower. Making sure I follow through on that commitment ensures that I set myself up for a successful day, because I am doing something hard first thing in the morning.
If I can overcome something hard early, what else can stop me the rest of the day? Building your resilience first thing in the morning is the best thing you can do for yourself - you feel that you can conquer anything the day throws at you.
If I have convinced you that cold showers are worth it, then I would recommend that you build yourself up to a full cold shower:
1. Start with a hot shower
2. At the end of your hot shower, turn the hot water tap off completely
3. During your first week you will do a cold shower for 20 seconds
4. You will follow the same process for week 2 – 4
5. Each week you will increase the time as follows;
a. Week 1: 20 seconds
b. Week 2: 40 seconds
c. Week 3: 60 seconds
d. Week 4: 120 seconds
After week 4 you should be able to start with the cold water tap. Don't think too long, just turn the tap on and step into the shower. Give it a try and let me know how your first 30 days go!