My Experience & Why I Don’t Plan to Fall Back to Hot Showers
Cold showers have turned into a really hot thing right now, backed by “scientific evidence” said to bring about a lot of health benefits. Countless famous people today and in the past advocated the use of it. Charles Darwin used hydrotherapy, cold immersion to treat his depression. A lot of athletes, actors and performers today are huge fans of taking cold showers too. And thousands of people have started incorporating the act into their daily routine.
So, I decided to give it a shot. To see for myself whether these benefits made any sense or not. If you don’t know already, cold showers have some real “health benefits”, and they’re supposed to be good for you:
Cold showers are said to reduce stress levels, increase endorphins and ail depression. They bring about a higher level of alertness and mindfulness. Increase energy levels. Cold immersion brings about better circulation in the body. It helps improve metabolism and may help lose weight over time. Cold showers strengthen the immune system and hence assist fighting off common diseases. Cold water is even better for your skin and hair.
Moreover, cold showers make you do something out of your comfort level. They make you endure the cold when you could have easily used the water heater. They test your willpower. And make you do something that’s bigger than you. After a while you become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Knowing that the only thing that was making it hard for you to step into the shower was not the cold but your mind’s resistance to the cold.
I wanted to try cold showers for this particular reason. To step out of my mind’s resistance. To be comfortable with the uncomfortable. And, to see for myself whether all this cold shower hot talk was actually true, and if it was, I’d be happy to receive all it’s advantages.
So, I decided to make this into a 30 day experiment. I just had to shower with cold water for 30 days. Sounds simpler than it actually is, I know.
Note: I had tried cold showers before, but I was never consistent with it. And lately all I did was use hot water. But this experiment was going to change that.
The first few days were really laughable. I’d get in the shower, turn on the knob, subjecting my body to the cold. And as soon as the water would hit, I’d flinch and make abnormally unconscious sounds. I’d have a difficulty breathing, I don’t know why, I’d just be hyperventilating. And after a while, it’d get normal. I’d get used to it, almost like it was hot water.
The early days were definitely the hardest, I wasn’t all that habitual with and adapted to cold showers. But as time passed. It became easier and easier. I’d no longer have to give myself a pep talk before going into the shower. And somewhere close to day 20, I’d really go into the shower with no fear whatsoever.
And so, I’d literally look up at the shower head as if we were going to war and I was confident in my ability to conquer it; then I’d turn the knob on, looking intently at the water from the head still and with all my might fight the shower and be content on defeating it (in like 10 seconds, because it’d feel normal after that period).
I realized that I was feeling how the cold water would feel (that is, really cold and really bad) even before I jumped into the shower. I had an imaginary resistance to the cold. This imaginary resistance would confront me before the water even did. It would play with the rational mind, telling it to take the easy way, and making me flinch on the feeling of the cold in the cold shower. It would deter me from the goal.
“In the heat of battle, the mind tends to lose its balance. Too many things confront you at the same time – unexpected setbacks, doubts and criticisms from your own allies.Robert Greene (In The 33 Strategies Of War)
There’s a danger of responding emotionally, with fear, depression, or frustration. It is vital to keep your presence of mind, maintaining your mental powers whatever the circumstances. You must actively resist the emotional pull of the moment – staying decisive, confident, and aggressive no matter what hits you.
Make the mind tougher by exposing it to adversity. Learn to detach yourself from the chaos of the battlefield.”
But taking a cold shower everyday made the resistance fade away as time passed. And then there would come a day, when I’d go into the shower like a boss, without any resistance whatsoever, feel the cold water in the beginning and stoically welcome it, then 5-10 seconds later, it’d just feel amazing.
“Benefits” I witnessed
- Greater perspective
Like I said, the water would become quite fine after a short while spent in the cold. And as I evolved through this experiment, I started having a lower resistance to the cold, to a point where there was no resistance at all, only acceptance. At the base level, I fulfilled my goal to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. And so, I’ve had a better perspective and deeper understanding of the mind “in the heat of battle”. I’ve strengthened it now, and at the very least, it’s immune to taking cold showers.
- Greater sense of awareness and exuberance
Taking cold showers would just wake me up. They were like a source to my overall energy. I’d always get out of the shower more lively and exuberant; in the mental state that would allow me to approach the new day passionately in an ardent manner. Hot showers can calm you down, but cold showers give you an intense feeling of calmness. A high-spirited and alert mind. You feel alive and awake. So whatever study claimed that cold showers increase your energy levels, was right in my eye at least.
That’s pretty much all I got out of this amazing experiment. Greater perspective and increased alertness and mental exuberance. I didn’t find any peculiar changes in my skin or hair like many advocates claim cold showers can do, but maybe I haven’t given the showers long enough to make a giant impact.
Also, seeing these great benefits, I’ve decided not to degrade myself back to hot showers from now on even though I’ve completed the 30 day experiment/challenge. Yes, I want to continue. I really like it now, and it feels good to do something like this routinely. So, I’ll still be taking cold showers from now on. Even when winter arrives from next month. Which sounds scary nonetheless.