Cold Showers

The Idea

Anna and I were driving from somewhere. It had to have been a road trip because we were listening to podcasts. Usually we listen to music and talk on shorter trips. Up popped Jim Kwik’s, Kwik Brain podcast episode sixteen where he was talking about his morning routine involving cold showers. We looked at each other like, hell no. I’m not taking a cold shower.

The problem is, I love Jim Kwik. He has had a huge impact on my life. He has been a guest on many of my favorite podcasts, I’ve completed his Kwik Reading class, part way through his Recall Masterclass, and listened to many podcasts.

I couldn’t get the idea out of my head about cold showers. Every time I stepped into the shower, I thought about it. So, I started looking into the benefits.

Hot vs Cold

Hot

  • If you are cold, it can increase your body temperature.

  • It can open your pores to help clean out dirt and oil.

  • If you have a cough, it can help open up your respiratory system.

  • If you have sore muscles, it can help to relax them.

  • It allows for soap to lather better.

  • It feels nice.

Cold

  • It can help reduce dry skin. Hot water allows skin flakes to easily fall off, but a cold shower closes everything up tightly.

  • It can speed up muscle recovery. I’m sure we’ve seen the scene where an athlete eases him/herself into a huge tub of ice water with a face of, Oh this is fine. This is because of improved blood circulation. Your body starts pumping more blood to keep the body warm, which allows for better recovery. A two in one benefit, faster muscle recovery, and better circulation.

  • It can improve your ability to handle stress or increasing your mental strength. You are putting yourself in an adverse situation. Something that may not be comfortable at first. You have to mentally push through it. The path to growth is through the land of the uncomfortable. Growth typically doesn’t happen without a little pain, emotions, anxiety, and fear.

  • It can help promote weight loss. People have two different types of fat, brown and white. The brown fat is the good kind of fat. It is what helps keep the organs warm. White fat is the stuff people see or don’t want to see. Cold showers can promote brown fat increase because the body is trying to keep itself warm.

  • It can wake you up. You’re jumping into a cold shower. It doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep you had, you’ll feel awake real fast.

  • It can be eco-friendly as you aren’t waiting for the water to heat up nor are you using the energy to heat the water. Plus, you don’t need the fan to remove the steam.

The Reason

I put this off for months. Many months. Like six months from when we first heard that episode. Back in Dec, I got smacked in the face, verbally. I’d been working out with a personal trainer for a few months and we got into an intense conversation about how my mental game sucked. I usually need sometime after an intense conversation to think about it and process it. I don’t do very well in the moment. I started thinking, what are someways I can improve my mental strength. I was already listening to a podcast called the Sports Motivation Podcast by I'm Not You. before each workout. It started putting me in the right mindset, but clearly it wasn’t enough. I needed to improve.

The Experience

Day 1:

Christmas Eve. Yes, I started on Christmas Eve while visiting Anna’s parents for the holidays. I said screw it, Let’s Do This, Leeroy Jenkins!!!!!!! I went for a workout, and stood at the trail head of the uncomfortable path. I turned the handle only a quarter turn and immediately jumped in. It was more like dodge the water as much as possible. Then I started doing the hokey pokey with my left arm in, my left arm out, my left arm in, and freeze it all about. Towards the end, I actually stepped fully into the water and embraced the uncomfortable. For the rest of the day, I felt different. My body felt more awake. It was a new feeling and a new sensation.

Day 2:

It is the first twenty seconds. Once I get past the first twenty seconds I’m good to go. It is like jumping into a pool on a hot summer day. Once you get acclimated, it doesn’t feel bad. It may be a complete placebo effect, but my body feels different for hours after I shower compared to a hot shower.

Day 3:

Today really caught me by surprise. I had just finished a rough workout, and was ready to jump in the shower. I turned on the water, and it felt extra cold. Like really cold. I jumped in, and my body was like WTS (What The Shower). After the initial shock, it was fine, but today there was some hesitation.

Day 4:

I jumped right in and showered. The first twenty seconds are the roughest. It is a mental struggle. After that, it is perfectly fine. I have noticed how less dry my hands are since starting the cold shower. Usually they are pretty dry and I have to put lotion on several times a day. They actually feel nice.

Day 5:

It gets easier and easier every time. I find singing a song for the first few seconds helps distract the initial cold.

Day 6:

Today was the first day showering at home, since visiting Anna’s family for the holidays. When building habits, there is some thoughts that say it is better to build them when you are away on vacation. That way you do the new habit for a week, and when you come home, you continue the habit. There is other thought that says you should start the habit in the place you are most likely to do the habit. When I got home, by default, I flipped the shower to the normal position for a hot shower. My home habit was a hot shower. As I waited for the water to warm up, I thought wait a minute, what am I doing? Am I giving up? Was everything I wrote about and researched for nothing? Am I not going to succeed?

I flipped the water to cold, and jumped in. As weird as this is going to sound, I really enjoyed the cold shower. It was pleasurable. I had an extremely rough workout that morning, and the cold water felt so nice. I wound up spending an extra minute just letting the water pour over me.

Day 7:

Today was a normal shower day. No fuss.

One thing to note is core body temperature. You are taking a cold shower. I get incredibly cold afterwards. It is one thing if I’m showering and then hopping into bed. It is another if it is the morning or afternoon. I find I need to bundle up for a bit to bring back up my core temperature.

Day 8:

Today was the first day I rolled out of bed and straight into the shower. A cold shower is a good way to instantly wake you up.

Regarding the core temperature comment from day 7, I laid out really warm PJ pants and a thick hoodie for after the shower. Usually, I just change into my work clothes, but having warm clothes instead made things so much nicer. By the time I finished shaving and doing my hair, I was more than ready to get into my work clothes.

Final Thoughts

As I write this, it has been over thirty days since I started taking cold showers. By the time you read this, it will have been around forty-five days since I first started. I stopped doing daily logs after day eight because it just became a normal shower. I did get used to the cold water. I didn’t need the warm clothes anymore. I got to the point where I could towel off, step out of the shower, and be fine. I could shave, do my hair, etc., before needing to put on clothes. I might even say I enjoyed it. It left my body with a different feeling. I can’t fully explain it, but I felt different for a solid hour.

On the twenty-ninth day as I stood under the cold water, it dawned on me. I know what I wrote about the benefits, but sometimes you have to discover it for yourself. Like a light bulb, I realized the cold shower is about discipline. The discipline to step into the cold water each day and enjoy the shower. To push through something challenging and get to the other side. A measurable test. Did I give in to the weakness or did I stay strong. I started this challenge to further my mental toughness, and on the twenty-ninth day I realized, I did.

Do you have the mental strength to endure?

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