My Experience from 31 Days of Cold Showers (and counting)

I plunge myself into the fray. Thousands of jagged droplets assault already tensed muscles, immersing me in an arctic cascade. Within seconds, my breath and heart rate hockey-stick, thousands of years of evolution preparing my body for what it presumes a dip into a sloshing river. However, I don’t intend to nose dive into rapids to escape a saber-tooth tiger or snag salmon for dinner — I intend to conquer my first Cold Shower of thirty-one.

Just an hour before, I had stumbled upon a YouTube video by Aaron Jones. The vlog showcased his own “31 Day Cold Shower Challenge”, complete with motivational advice and an enthusiastic recommendation. Upon taking his recommendation, I believe I now owe him a “thumbs up” on the video as well.

Over the course of thirty-one days, I’ve discovered that, as Aaron so eloquently stated, “Cold Showers are good but they also suck.” They suck a lot. Cowering before the showerhead and the frigid water it spews, I realize the shock my body will soon voluntarily endure. The dread strikes a fitting prelude to three minutes of numbing, fiery pain, some days proving harder to endure than the act itself. I occasionally question my resolve; I reminisce about my lukewarm cleanses. Struggling to choose strife over comfort, I scrutinize my why.

For one, the health benefits of Cold Showers abound. As an active teen, I’ve gladly bid farewell to acne and sore muscles, welcoming in their stead increased alertness and shinier locks. But much more than hygienic aspirations, my principal motivation for Cold Showers stems from, well, principle. Cold Showers teach me to do the hard things first. Starting off every morning with this self-torture, the demands of the day seem a little less demanding.

Early on, Cold Showers dampened my first world problems. Making my bed, the monotony of the mind-numbing chore matured into an instinctive routine. Brushing my teeth, I trudged past skipping it altogether to mastering the two-minute milestone. Resisting the Ruffles chip bags on the counter — well, that took more than a week to overcome. If I could force myself into a daily Polar Plunge, I could shun temptations and suck up to-dos. The momentum kept building. The gung ho attitude required to hop underneath the showerhead bled into other willpower-dependent tasks — squatting 225 pounds at the YMCA, practicing snooze-button restraint at 4:30 am every weekday.

My morning Cold Shower regimen sparked other schedules. I made the jump from four workouts a week to five, half an hour of coding a day to one. Before every Cold Shower in the week, I began spending 5:00 to 7:00 am sifting through Google Scholar and vector-calculus textbooks for my Applied Physics Laboratory internship. The implications were of awesome proportion. Procrastination on my internship homework no longer weighed me down. Lethargy no more characterized my morning routines. My intensity soared in workouts; my progress on freecodecamp more than doubled. Oh yeah, and I coded up my own website.

These the results of three minutes in a shower. Three minutes epitomizing every struggle and every subsequent victory — forcing one’s self to surmount reluctance, enduring the inevitable pain, and feeling good as hell about yourself afterwards. If Aaron Jones began his video with “Cold Showers are good but they also suck”, I’d like to conclude my reflection by affirming: Cold Showers are good because they suck.