I do this thing now where I stall a little bit before I step into the shower. I brush my teeth, set out my clothes. I procrastinate.
And no, the water isn’t warming to a cozy temperature reminiscent of the womb.
No, I stall from turning the knob to cold and leaving it there. Since the start of 2023, I’ve been taking only cold showers. And I mean ice cold from start to finish. Once in a while I treat myself and start with a lukewarm stream—lukecold, really—and then gradually turn it to full-blast cold by the end.
My hesitation to step in transforms into some kind of confrontational exercise where all I can do is scream or heave or collect my breath since my mind can’t do anything else under the rush of cold water.
My face and front body are now used to the sensation. It’s my shoulders and back that still find the water tortuous.
So why am I torturing myself? Why am I ruining what could be one of the few enjoyable times of the day?
1. In early January, my whole family fell ill with Covid—except me. While I was caring for them, I was thanking my immune system, and looking for ways to bolster it. I had read that cold showers increased the number of white blood cells, which protect the body against diseases, due in part to an increased metabolic rate. I wanted to experiment.
2. I’m a big believer in being in physically uncomfortable situations to both stimulate the survival response and strengthen mental toughness. Thank you, Michael Easter, author of The Comfort Crisis.
3. I’m a tree-hugging hippie at heart and saving some water will help all of us.
But mostly it was the first reason.
I haven’t been sick once this winter season. Sure, a few sluggish days, a sniffle here, and a headache there, but no infections. I’m also getting leaner; my body is now eating away at those stubborn little corners of fat.
It’s also incredibly therapeutic from both a mental and spiritual perspective. The shower is now a challenge. A risk. It’s not an opportunity to melt away and slip down the drain. If I can slay some demons AND get clean at the same time, I’m in!
Bottom line, however, is that while it might seem like a “hack” to a better immune system and a leaner body, it’s all a series of small steps in a much longer journey to optimal health. So, step in and enjoy the cold!
This Post is republished on Medium.
Photo Credit: Unsplash