Most of my showers are freezing, and not because I don’t pay my bills.
Apparently there are numerous health benefits of taking cold baths or showers. Chris Gayomoli has an informative and entertaining blog detailing these benefits. I’ll leave it to him to explain how it seems to cold water immersion redirects blood flow inward to deep blood vessels, improving blood flow back to the heart, which seems to help your system flush out the waste products and restore nutrients to the blood stream, thus reducing inflammation. Well, that was about the gist of it, but check out his blog anyway; it’s a good read.
I don’t take cold showers for the potential health benefits, however. I don’t even take them to help me wake up, or to help me cool off after a run, though it’s good for both of those things. I do it because of the “cold shower mindset”.
The cold shower mindset is a take-control, GITFD attitude towards life. It strengthens an ability to let go of little things that you thing you need but don’t, like warm showers. This “cold shower” mindset is really about tackling something uncomfortable, accepting it, and then turning it into something refreshing and invigorating.
Here are the DOs and DON’Ts of taking a cold shower using this mindset. I’m not a doctor, and pretending that I am one may be hazardous to your health, so… if you have a heart condition, make sure to ask your REAL doctor before taking really cold showers.
Don’t turn on the cold water and then stand outside the shower for several minutes while you “psych yourself up”. At best you’ll just waste water and time, and at worst you’ll psych yourself into saying bold things like “oooh, maybe it could just be a teensy bit warmer….. and maybe even a smidge bit more….” and so on until you compromise yourself into an unsatisfying, slightly less warm shower.
DO turn the cold water on and climb in within three seconds. Anything longer and you’re letting your mind talk you out of it. Personally, I turn on the cold water, and say to myself “And, in you GO” and step into shower on the word “go”. You may come up with your own command; you’ll probably need to.
Don’t spend your time cursing how cold it is once you’re in the shower. Of course it’s cold! That’s the point. Allow yourself to acknowledge and experience the temperature, but don’t make a judgment about it as if it’s good or bad. You won’t adapt to the water by hiding in the corner, arms wrapped around you, wondering why you ever listened to people like me. Instead, immerse yourself completely. Whatever areas you really don’t want to expose to cold water, wash those areas first.
After about two minutes or so, your body should feel fairly comfortable in the cold shower. When you towel off, it is unbelievably refreshing, not just to to the body but also to the spirit- almost like a daily baptism.
Again, I’m not concerned about the various health benefits of cold showers. To me, they’re a seed to cultivate acceptance, simplicity, and self-reliance in my life. Try it for yourself, and see how you feel. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it.