We’ve all heard that a well-balanced diet and consistent exercise routine promotes good health, but what about something as routine as a shower?
Few can argue how nurturing a long hot shower feels, especially when seeking refuge from a chilly morning or freshening up in a day room.
But if we’re able to bite our lip, take a few deep breaths and adjust ourselves to a momentarily jarring polar stream, could we put ourselves in a better position to succeed?
While the scientific evidence behind cold water showers indicates that more studies are needed, it doesn’t mean a brisk cleanse can’t start changing your life tomorrow.
You’ll Be On Your A-Game
Feel like you need a coffee first thing in the morning to feel alive? Building a cold shower habit could free you of your addiction. Taking (or ending) your cold showers relieves fatigue and increases alertness.
Cold showers could also mean reduced sick days. A study asked 3,000 volunteers to finish their showers with a 30, 60 or 90-second duration of cold water, or to shower as they usually did for a month straight. The group that opted for cold showers took 29 percent fewer sick days than their hot-water counterparts.
Interestingly, the cold-shower participants felt ill the same amount of days on average as those who kept their hot water routine. However, cold shower volunteers felt more energetic and able to persevere through their affliction. Two-thirds of them also continued their cold shower routine after the study.
You’ll Strengthen Your Willpower
Despite what we tell ourselves, willpower isn’t an exhaustible resource. If you believe your willpower runs out, that’s what will happen. This is according to a study that measured participants’ behavior between viewing willpower as a limited resource or infinite. Subjects who had preconceptions about willpower being a finite resource experienced signs of ego depletion after exercising their willpower. Subjects who saw willpower as infinite did not exhibit symptoms of ego depletion.
By turning the dial cold for even a portion of your shower, you’ll realize you’re capable of making the right choice regardless of how many disciplined decisions came before it.
You’ll Feel the Flinch
As complicated and ever-changing as life may feel, it’s quite simple at its core: do you act with fear or love? Taking cold showers won’t permanently choose love for you in life, but it’ll at least begin or end your day with a daily dose of fear.
It’ll take you out of your comfort zone and allow you to recognize your flinch, as Nikita Kazakov details in a Medium essay.
And if you’re thinking that consistent cold showers would build a tolerance, slowly eroding one’s daily apprehension, consult Niklas Göke, who took a cold shower every day for a year. Among Göke’s many observations, the fright of the showerhead’s brisk flow never ceased.
Developing Your Cold Shower Routine
Compelled to inject some mental toughness into your daily routine? Approach the habit responsibly. We are talking about cold water showers after all. You wouldn’t want to kill your motivation by going arctic on day one.
Clean yourself with lukewarm water and finish the last minute of your shower slightly cold. After a few weeks, turn the dial a little colder. Following another successful week, increase from one minute to two (or longer depending on your comfortability).
A month into your new glorious habit, you should be able to shower with the water completely cold. Feel free to extend your glacial sessions to the entire shower or continue ending your showers with a few jubilating minutes—it’s up to you!
Still skeptical about cold showers? Try it for yourself. What do you have to lose by trying? Besides fear, of course.
Featured photo, “In my bathroom” by yip vick via Unsplash
“Happiness is getting the job done” by Ali Yahya via Unsplash
“Cold suds on glass” by Valentin Lacoste via Unsplash
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