I know, I know. Why on earth would I recommend taking a cold shower when we can have a warm one? Stick with me and let’s break the benefits down into three sections; before, during and after.
Before. Well it’s actually pretty exciting standing there knowing that we’re about to do something that’s going to be a bit crap but facing up to it. Sometimes I like to almost torture myself and stand facing and considering the cold stream for a while before I will myself in. Other times I just jump straight in before I have a chance to think about it. That conscious decision to face something that we know is a challenge and not necessarily fun but to do it anyway builds a discipline and a principle that knocks on into other areas of our life. It gives us confidence that we can overcome challenges and uncomfortable situations.
During. Once in there we actually get used to it surprisingly quickly and there’s nothing like a freezing cold shower to wake us up and blow away the cobwebs. If our mind is racing it’s a great alternative form of mindfulness. Try ruminating on all the thoughts whirring round in our mind while standing in a cold stream of water, instead we immediately focus on the feeling that we’re experiencing. There are also peripheral environmental benefits. A cold shower will naturally lead us to spend less time soaking which saves some water. That builds up if we do it every day. We also save some energy in not heating the water required for the shower every day.
After. Straight off it feels pretty great when we stop the shower. Because we’re now generally colder than the room temperature instead of dreading stepping out and feeling cold (especially in winter), we step out and immediately start to feel all warm and tingly. We feel great in our own skin. Longer term there’s evidence for ongoing health benefits. According to Medical Daily there is evidence that taking cold showers makes us more alert, better able to cope with stress and less susceptible to depression as well as refining hair and skin, improving immunity and circulation and potentially stimulating weight loss. Pretty persuasive.
Sold yet? If you’re not quite ready to go cold turkey with cold showers you could try getting going with a warm shower and gradually decreasing and decreasing the temperature so that you get slowly used to the shower becoming colder and colder. The next step could be “James Bond” showers which are so called because in the Ian Fleming books Bond likes to start with a conventional warm shower and then finish with a couple of minutes stone cold at the end.
Personally though I say the best way to do it is to just face up to it and go full on cold turkey and never look back.