Cold Showers are Cool… Especially on Mondays

I don’t know for sure, but I am willing to bet you take lukewarm to scalding hot showers every day. For the first 20 years of my life, I did too. I took hot showers every day. Why wouldn’t I? The warm water bouncing off of my skin tingled and held me like a blanket, fresh out of the dryer. Then something changed. Once I turned 20 years and 1 day old, I started taking ice cold showers. Why would I? The cold water stabbing my skin felt as if Frozone from The Incredibles was repeatedly punching me in the face while screaming, or maybe that was me screaming.

Every day since I turned 20 years and 1 day old, I have continued to take cold showers every day. You may say it’s crazy, but my life has benefited in several ways over the last 196 days both physiologically and psychologically from these cold showers. So, I say you’re crazy for not taking cold showers every day.

I know this may seem like a small thing, and there is no way that it can have much of an impact on your life, but I want to tell you that it can. I would like to share with you my cold shower story in hopes that you will give cold showers a try. The benefits will astonish you.

The day after I turned 20, I started to evaluate my life. I looked back at the first 20 years of my life and wondered what I had done to truly feel alive. I began by asking myself critical questions. What have I done to make myself proud? What have I done that I am ashamed of? What CAN I do to live my life more fully? A “ding” went off in my head. I realized that I needed to overcome the idea of being uncomfortable (example: when a beautiful girl says “hey” to me in the hallway, I want to be able to do more than mutter “hello” and wave my hand like a goat with a wounded hoof out of nervousness). I remembered reading on Reddit about people taking cold showers to “challenge” themselves in the morning. There is a complete subreddit, or “channel” on Reddit, dedicated to a community of people that take cold showers and share their experiences. I thought I would give it a try. I mean it can’t be that difficult. It’s just a shower. I’ve seen those dudes on the Discovery Channel do the Polar Plunge in the Arctic Circle and they make it look pretty easy, right?

WRONG.

Those Polar Plunge dudes are superhumans. The first time I tried an Ice cold shower, I screamed like a howler monkey with a winning lottery ticket.

The water numbed my skin while I hyperventilated, and I started to jump up and down. It was extremely uncomfortable. I hated every minute of it, which added up to about 3 minutes. I didn’t understand the point in torturing myself that early in the morning. Then I got out of the shower and the things I felt when I dried off were nothing short of extraordinary. I felt more awake than I had ever felt. My skin was lighter. I could see things more clearly. I felt alive. That’s when it hit me. If I could put myself through that feeling of being uncomfortable every morning, nothing else during the day could compare. Despite all of the benefits I felt after the shower, it was much more difficult for me to jump into the freezing cold stream of water the next morning. I began to ask myself, what’s the point of taking these showers? I should just take a hot shower. I’m not prepared to deal with this right now. Remember how shitty that cold shower felt yesterday? This doubt in my head made my body feel heavy again, almost like when they put the jacket on your chest at the dentist for X-rays. This is when I came up with a set of guidelines to take my mind off of ideas of doubt in myself. I needed some instructions to follow so the process was less of a decision and more of a daily routine. These are the guidelines I came up with to motivate myself to continue cold showers. (I suggest you follow them when you try your first cold shower)

1. TURN ON THE WATER TO THE COLDEST SETTING: This is rather self-explanatory, but make sure there is still a good amount of water pressure as well.

2. TURN ON SOME TUNES (LOUD): This step is very important. If you have a stereo or Bluetooth speaker, bring it with you to the bathroom. Find music that gets you pumped up, as if you were going into battle with the ice cold water. (I like to listen to music with a heavy beat. Some of my examples include: “Covered in Chrome” by Violent Soho, “Lithium” by Nirvana, “No Way” by The Naked and Famous, and “Reflections” by Balance and Composure)

3. WAIT UNTIL THE RIGHT TIME TO ENTER THE FREEZING COLD WATER: Enter the shower after you start a song, but keep the shower head pointed away from you. Prepare yourself to enter the cold stream of water by taking several deep breaths. Once the song reaches its climax, turn the shower head toward you and put your head/face in the stream of water.

4. AIRDRUM THE SHIT OUT OF THE AIR: In order to sustain the initial shock of the freezing water, you need to flail your arms around like you have no arm bones. Don’t worry, nobody is watching you — go crazy. Airdrum (^like this guy), dance, jump up and down, do whatever you need to do to combat the shock of the cold water for the first 30 seconds. No matter how ridiculous you look, this step will allow you to distribute the cold all around your skin and increase your adrenaline in the process.

5. ENJOY THE RUSH: Once you get over the initial shock, the water will continue to feel cold, but it also feels soothing. Enjoy this feeling and make sure to keep the flow of cold water on your head, face, and shoulders for the best results. Oh, I almost forget, put some soap on at some point in this process.

6. TAKE ON THE DAY. OVERCOME THE IDEA OF “UNCOMFORTABLE”: Begin the rest of the day with a smile. Use that energy that you have to promote positivity. Tell others about your cold showers and notify them of the benefits you have experienced.

You may be saying to yourself, Okay, this all seems like a good idea, but it also sounds like it could be dangerous. Think again. According to an accumulation of scientific studies in an article on www.menprovement.com, the use of cold showers and baths are physically beneficial in several facets. Cold water can improve skin complexion, increase testosterone and fertility, decrease levels of brown fat in the upper chest and back, strengthen the immune system, improve your sleep cycle, and cause an increase of energy. If that isn’t enough reason to excite you to get up and try a cold shower, I’d like to add that Spartan warriors used to take ice cold baths to prepare themselves to go into battle. This sentence will make sense after you get out of your first cold shower. You will feel like King Leonidas, himself.

However, these physical benefits are a mere bonus to the psychological benefits of cold showers. One month into cold showers, I began to feel more comfortable in everyday life. I was never a candidate for severe depression, but like any other person, I had days where I would be sad for no apparent reason. After that first month of cold showers, the amount of those sad days decreased tenfold. I had an easier time talking to people I had never talked to before. My attitude in the weight room was like that of an unchained beast, and I was suddenly always going for that extra rep. My confidence sky-rocketed as I realized I was able to overcome being uncomfortable. My relationships with the people around me strengthened as my overall mood increased. I was no longer worried about the “little things” and I looked optimistically at problems when searching for a solution. These benefits are still present today. It still isn’t easy to get up and jump into ice water, especially on Mondays, but that small victory that is associated with the accomplishment of taking a cold shower in the morning prepares me for whatever curveball that day might throw at me. I am a firm believer that cold showers can do the same for you.

Whatever it is you are going through right now, whether you are stressed from fall classes, or you are bored and looking for purpose and direction in your life, take cold showers for 30 days and record your transformation. I urge you to challenge yourself every morning to take a cold shower and see where it takes you. Subscribe to Reddit and join the army of other people participating in this idea on the subreddit entitled /r/coldshowers. Motivate yourself to become the hero of your own life. Whether you are 13 or 53, there is still time to overcome the uncomfortable — just jump in.

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