I love showers. I average 2-3 showers a day. I’m sure you’re thinking that’s insane, but the shower habit makes sense because of my daily habits and morning routine.
Shower number one comes right after the gym, around 9 am. The second shower comes after my second workout and the time of that workout varies based on my schedule. Shower number three happens right before bed. I just sleep better after a shower, and even if it’s all in my head, science says I’m not wrong.
If I schedule my day correctly, shower two happens after a workout but just an hour or two before bed, eliminating shower number three. You can now rest easier knowing my shower schedule. You’re welcome.
More than a few of the podcasts that I listen to religiously have praised and preached the benefits of a cold shower. Taking a freezing cold shower
Cold Shower Benefits
At first, taking a freezing cold shower has some health benefits, as explained by the Cleveland Clinic.
“The shock brought by cold water puts your circulatory system into overdrive. Your body increases blood flow to warm your core and protect vital organs. At the same time, it constricts circulation near your skin.
This process stimulates blood flow, which – on the whole – is a good thing for your overall health. Even your skin gets clearer and healthier with increased circulation.”
A clinical trial in the Netherlands found that cold showers led to a 29% reduction in people calling off sick from work. Another study even connected cold showers to improved cancer survival.
On the mental health side, researchers found that cold showers may help relieve symptoms of depression. (The study did note that more research is needed.)
My month of ice-cold bathing did cause a few unintentional benefits, these results may vary depending on the person.”
After months of mentally psyching myself up – and then out – I finally took action. Now was the time to try cold showers!
Honestly, I just needed something to write about for the website. Eh, good enough reason in my eyes.
My Cold Shower Experience
Much like everything in my life, my cold shower experiment started with a post-it note reminder on my bathroom wall.
“COLD SHOWER. 3 MINUTES. DO IT!!”
Present me knew future me would make an excuse for not taking a freezing cold shower, so the “DO IT” is underlined three times.
The first ice-cold shower brought a memory back to the front of my mind and a person whom I hadn’t thought about in decades – Huey Lewis. Yes, the singer and his band dominated the radio for a while during my childhood. His videos were in heavy rotation on MTV. The video that had the most impact on my impressionable young mind was “I Want a New Drug.”
There’s a sequence in the video when Lewis, fresh from waking up with an intense hangover, dumps two trays of ice cubes into his kitchen sink. He fills the sink with water and dunks his face into the frozen mix.
And now for a fun music break..
For some reason, that moment made an impression on young Chris, and I regularly dunked my head into freezing cold water – with ice – in my bathroom sink. The sensation instantly made me feel awake and alert. I completely forgot about that childhood habit until the first morning in a freezing cold shower. And yes, that song got lodged in my brain for the rest of the day.
Full transparency – on that first day, the three minutes TOOK FOREVER to pass. I stood with my head under the steady stream and practiced what’s known as the Wim Hof method, named after its creator, a Dutch extreme athlete nicknamed “The Iceman.”
Hof believes anyone can accomplish incredible feats by developing radical command over their body using specific breathing techniques during drastic temperature changes.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the Win Hof method:
- Take in a strong inhalation through your nose.
- Let out a relaxed breath through the mouth.
- Repeat this for 30 breaths.
- On the 30th breath, exhale to about 90% of lung capacity and hold for as long as possible.
- When you feel you really need to take a breath, inhale fully, and hold it for 15 seconds before releasing it.
I repeated this breathing technique for the entire three minutes. It helped acclimate my body to the cold temps and kept my mind off the unenjoyable experience.
Finally, the timer buzzed, and I jumped out of the shower and feverishly toweled off.
Like any new habit, the first days are the worst day, but each exposure to the cold water got a little easier. I even made a few changes to make the experience a little more tolerable.
After a few days, the 3 minutes in the cold shower started to feel routine. Instead of washing my hair and face and scrubbing my body, and then doing the 3 minutes of cold water, I worked my way into cleaning myself in the cold water. This proved to be the best idea for a few reasons:
- It eliminated the few minutes of dreading the forthcoming cold water.
- It distracted my mind in the middle of the cold shower.
- The moving around coupled with the Wim Hof breathing technique actually kept me slightly warmer (or at least it felt like it did).
A few times, my mind was so occupied with thoughts about the day that the cold water didn’t even register, and the 3 minutes flew by. In a couple of instances, I stayed in the shower longer than the allotted time just because it felt pretty good.
My Benefits From 30 Days of Cold Showers
Aside from the cold shower benefits mentioned in the Cleveland Clinic article, here were a few other random perks of taking ice-cold showers every morning.
I spent less time in the shower: Have you ever timed yourself in the shower? According to the CDC, the average person’s shower for about 8 minutes and anything longer than 10 minutes isn’t a good idea.
My cold shower had me in and out of the tub as quickly as possible. While I never measured the total time of any of the showers, the longest probably lasted about 5 minutes. Less time in the shower meant more time doing other essential tasks in the morning.
My skin improved: Cold showers improved my skin for one reason – My typical shower before this experiment involved water bordering on scalding. I just liked hot showers. This led to increasingly dry skin, especially my hands, causing the skin around my fingers to crack and hurt like hell. Cold showers don’t leave the skin feeling dry.
I just felt…cleaner: This result is possibly a mental side effect, but cold showers make me feel cleaner than a hot shower. As I mentioned, the water temp for my typical shower was skin-melting. While drying off, I’d typically begin to sweat again due to the combination of my body naturally trying to cool off and the steam-filled bathroom.
Cold showers gave me the feeling of being cleaner, even while getting dressed. I should also mention that my cold showers occur after my morning workouts, which might also contribute to my feeling of being squeaky clean. Ten minutes prior, my body was covered in sweat and the grossness that collects after a night of sleeping.
If You’re Going To Try Cold Showers, Here Are My Suggestions:
- Don’t take them at night. They’re going to jack up your adrenaline. Duh.
- Take them after working out. The cold water feels pretty good on sore muscles.
- Pop your towel into the dryer for five minutes before getting in the shower. Emerging from the cold shower and grabbing my warm towel has become one of my little pleasures in life.
- Use them as a reset. I do this once in a while if my morning gets off on the wrong foot. Showers always feel like a reset to the day. One part of the day is over, and now the shower has washed everything away, and it’s time to start another part of the day. Nothing will knock you into a new mindset like freezing cold water.
And that’s about it. Now, hop in the shower and turn the knob all the way to blue. It will match your lips.
Kidding. You’ll be fine.
If you’re thinking about adding cold showers to your daily routine, I want to hear about it. Drop me an email at chrisilluminati [@] gmail.com.