First, let me start this post by saying I’m NOT crazy for taking cold shower. Although my wife might have a different opinion on the matter--especially when I try to hug her right after I get out of the shower-- I still maintain my sanity! In this post I will try my hardest to convince you that not only is taking a cold shower healthy, it’s also a completely sane thing to do.
Now, you might be wondering, “Why the hell is JC talking about cold showers on a blog that is supposed to be about mindfulness?” Stick with me and you will find out (I think they call that a tease). After all, when you really think about it, anything in life can be turned into a lesson of mindfulness.
Cold showers are physically healthy, and that’s a fact. If you don’t believe me take the plunge for yourself and spend some time on the Internet researching the benefits of cold-water therapy (CWT). Travel down the Internet wormhole as many of us do, and you will see hundreds of articles boasting the healthy impact CWT can have for those who dare to try.
CWT has been scientifically proven to improve one’s mood, increase one’s energy, and expedite one’s ability to recover from an injury. Other research shows that taking a cold shower can increase testosterone in men and can result in healthier hair and skin. Probably the most profound finding however is that CWT can help those who suffer from depression. This is because the second your body hits the cold water your immune system releases endorphins and in turn, those endorphins help curb some of the effects of depression.
For most people, all of these amazing health benefits would be enough to get them into an ice cold shower, but not me. Sure the benefits are great but they are not why I start each morning with a cold shower. For me, cold showers are about getting to know myself better and watching my mind.
You might be thinking, “How does a cold shower help you know yourself better?” Let me explain:
Every morning after my workout I know that I’m going to get in that damn shower. If I’m being completely honest here, although I’ve been taking cold showers for over 6 months now, it isn’t always easy to get into the water—especially when the water is so cold I can see my breath in the air.
This is where the practice of mindfulness starts for me. Before I even step into the shower I’m on high alert. I want to watch my thoughts and see what kind of crazy stories my mind will inevitably spin. Stories like: “This is going to suck soooooo bad” or “You don’t have to do this today” or “You worked out hard this morning, why don’t you treat yourself to a nice warm shower like a normal person?” Do you notice a pattern here?
All these stories created by my mind are designed to increase my level of fear and anxiety. My thoughts are living in the future and my mind is trying to talk me out of doing something difficult—even when I know it’s good for me. So, what do I do? I just listen.
Listening to my mind in this way allows me to see the narratives that my mind wants so desperately for me to believe. I can start to see patterns which allow me to pin point other times in my life where my mind is trying to talk me out of doing something that might be challenging. When I see this, I can kindly thank my mind for trying to help me and remind myself that I’ve taken these showers hundreds of times before and it’s never as cold or as bad as my mind tries to tell me it will be.
After watching my mind for a minute or two, I am now ready for the main event. I turn the water as cold as I can get it, count to 5, and step into the freezing water. The second I get into the water I tense up. I lose all my breath and I have to fight every urge not to find solace in a warm corner of the shower.
But there I am, sitting in the ice cold water trying to catching my breath and guess what; it isn’t killing me. Contrary to what my mind tried to tell me, I can handle this! Each time I do CTW I try to stay in the cold water for at least ten minutes. During those ten minutes I’m still watching my mind. In fact, sometimes I try and direct the mind to the feeling of coldness on my body. What I find when I do this is that it’s really not that bad—especially once I’m numbed up! Once I catch my breath, I finish all the mundane tasks one does in the shower and the ten minutes is up before I know it.
For me, taking cold showers is like lifting weight. Each time I take one I’m strengthening my mindful muscles. Furthermore, each time I’m done with a chilly shower I have proof that my mind is not always right. What my mind tries to tell me will be difficult is often not the case. In reality, it’s never the case. This mental muscle helps me navigate through the things I know I should do, but I might be scared to even start. It builds resilience and helps me realize that I don’t have to believe the crazy stories in my head.
Hopefully by now you don’t think I’m crazy and you are at least curious about the benefits of CWT. If anything, try it out for the health benefits, but also make sure to watch your mind. See how it tries to talk you out of it and build that resilience each morning and see how it improves little by little every day!
Thank you as always for reading. We would love to hear from you! Are there any other crazy people out there like me that take cold showers? If so, what are some of the benefits that you have noticed? Let us know!
Until next time,
Many many blessings!