Do something everyday that scares you. - Eleanor Roosevelt
Standing under a warm shower one morning, half asleep and hungry, I contemplated the routine that I would fulfil that day, as I did every other day. Doing the same thing over and over again, Einstein tells us, and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Yet I wasn't trying anything new, and was too comfortable in these habits. We live too long in our comfort zone achieving nothing and going nowhere. Still in the shower, I decided to do the most uncomfortable thing I could immediately think of, and turned the shower to cold. There begun my love affair with icy water, a bug that I have never shaken off.
Cold showers, at least at first, are incredibly unpleasant. Replacing the comfort of warmth with the shocking ice cold is something few enjoy, and yet I have found that not only do you very quickly get used to it, but that there are incredible benefits if you can withstand it. But for most people they aren't willing to scare themselves, or do anything unpleasant, despite the certain rewards. The biggest tip I can give for facing any fear is the art of 'pre-decision'.
Pre-decision is using a moment of motivation to determine in advance your actions at a moment of less motivation or drive. For example, if you want to take a cold shower tomorrow morning, decide now and take actions to ensure you do. You could tweet that you're going to do it, bet someone you live with that you will, or even turn off the boiler in your house.
Will power is OVERATED. Don't rely on will, force it. Sure the shower will be horrendous for the first 30 seconds, but after that it's actually quite nice. And then there are the benefits. This is an exercise in
growing more comfortable being uncomfortable, for your ability to do this is the surest measure of success. Or as someone more eloquent put it:
We do not rise to the level of our hopes, we fall to the level of our training.
And if it really is unbearable, swear very loudly. This can make anything feel better. Then hurry up, get clean and get out to reap the rewards. In less than a month, I discovered benefits far beyond my expectations.
1) A change that I barely noticed until I stopped cold showers for a week was just how much longer the feeling of cleanliness lasts. With a hotter shower, by the afternoon I would start feeling grubby, and I'd need to wash at least my face again. I have spoken to others who get this same feeling of dirtiness, which is caused by the opening of the pores and inlet of air filled with chemical residue, especially potent on public transport. Cold showers close the pores and keep that fresh feeling all day.
2) Because cold water closes the pores, no grease can get in, the cause of puss and spots. I would recommend you use hot water from a basin on your face to open the pores, apply face wash, then jump into the shower to wash it off and close the pores again. In the first month that I began doing this, I got no spots at all, which is unusual! Also, if you suffer from spots on your back (back-ne) as is especially common among men, then cold water alone will be enough to clear that up quite quickly.
3) Although you may not agree, a huge bonus of the cold shower that it is far less enjoyable than a hot one. As a lucky consequence I waste far less time each morning just standing there. This saves water, and thus bill money too. Cold showers for a productive life.
4) When you stand under or in freezing water your body releases a chemical called serotonin. This is a natural painkiller which numbs the freezing sensation on the skin. This effect lasts far longer than the length of the shower, and you will find that it gives you a high for at least few hours. Feeling absolutely pumped at 7:30am is a rarity, but that's exactly what cold showers do for you.
5) If you shower after exercise, which I hope you always do, then cold showers offer great benefits. Cold water increases heart rate, which means a lot more oxygenated and nutrient-filled blood is delivered to sore muscles. If you usually suffer from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) from exercise you may notice that this is greatly reduced the morning after a cold shower. This is due to the increased blood supply aiding muscle repair, allowing you to recover quicker and train harder.
6) A very rapid improvement is seen for the skin and hair. I mentioned already how it can help clear up spots, but cold showers also avoid all of the drying effects that warmer washes have. That means softer, moister skin, and your summer tan will last longer. It also prevents your hair drying out, a nightmare for girls and a cause of baldness in men. If you're spending too much on moisturiser, or worried about baldness, give cold showers a try.
7) Without a doubt the greatest benefit of cold showers is that you begin your day with a 'bring it on' mentality. If you start each day by doing something scary, or at the least unpleasant, this will prompt you to take on other challenges, and be less hesitant, throughout the day. This has had amazing impacts on my life, and I would recommend cold showers for this reason alone.
There we are, 7 reasons for an ice shower, morning or night.
They aren't the nicest, but the best things for you rarely are. The truth is that by sacrificing just one minute each morning to discomfort you can reap rewards in every area of life. Decide to try it now, and do it soon, or choose any other unpleasant or scary to challenge, to destroy your comfort zone and start living.