Cold showers are not something you would put yourself through willingly; rather, they’re forced on you by circumstances beyond your control.
We must establish the simple fact that hot showers are a luxury, not a necessity. Throughout human history, people had to bathe in whatever water was available to them, whatever the temperature.
You don’t tend to acknowledge hot water until it runs out and you start hopping around cursing before grabbing the nearest towel with shampoo still in your hair.
Next time this happens, don’t be so quick to shout and run, instead embrace the cold. This cold shower may be precisely what you need.
People in civilisations across the globe have been plunging into icy rivers, lakes and waterfalls to cleanse themselves for generations. Although I am not suggesting you do anything as intense as a polar swim, if you are willing to turn down the heat in your shower, you can experience some incredible health benefits.
This lifestyle hack will increase your body’s ability to handle stress - whether it’s physical, mental or emotional.
The most obvious benefit to taking an ice-cold shower is that leaves you feeling alert, ready to seize the day. However, on top of this, the deep breathing in response to the body’s shock helps you keep warm by increasing your oxygen intake. Thus, your heart rate will increase, releasing a rush of blood through our entire body, giving you a natural dose of energy throughout the day.
If you are trying to kick your caffeine habit, cold showers might be just the ticket. Even if you aren’t, its hard to find a better way to shake off lethargic feelings in the morning.
Doing something that you are resistant to and seems counterintuitive, every single day takes severe mental strength. And over time, this mental strength will become an automated habit that echoes into every area of your life.
Cold showers also help you manage stressful situations, by training your nervous system to be more resilient to stress. They act as a small form of oxidative stress on your nervous system and, over time, the body adapts to this. Essentially, you will be calm, cool and collective in stressful situations. The first time you step into a cold shower, you won’t be able to think straight, feel like you are winded and hate yourself. But after a month, you will be thinking about your day in a Zen-like focus. This translates into everyday life as you brush off stressful bullshit that would typically ruin your mood.
If feeling better does not motivate you, then maybe looking better will?
When it comes to hair and skin, one of the most natural ways to maintain your appearance is with cold showers. One of the best, and cheapest, ways to improve your skin (and hair) is by braving a cold shower as it tightens your pores, preventing them from getting clogged.
According to certified dermatologist Jessica Krant, ice-cold water helps your skin by preventing it from losing too many natural oils. Alongside this, it will help you appear shiny, strong and healthy by keeping the follicles flat and increasing their grip to the scalp. I’m sure this its great news to some of you!
What most people don’t know is that there are two types of fat in your body. Brown and white. White fat is the one we all hate. Brown fat, on the other hand, is heat generating and insulates your body.
The brown fat is activated by taking a cold shower, resulting in an increase in energy and calories burned, by keeping you organs warm, so much so that according to studies, the cold increases brown fat by 15x the average amount, resulting in approximately 9lbs of weight loss per year!
Cold showers aren’t just the ultimate alarm. There is evidence they can offer relief for symptoms of depression. “The blue spot” is stimulated, which is the brain’s primary source of noradrenaline — a chemical which plays a role in alleviating depression. The mild electroshock delivered to the brain by the cold shower sends an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect. There is a high density of cold receptors in the skin, much more than there are from registering warmth.
It feels like all the nerves within your body are firing when the cold water hits you which instantly act as a reset button for your brain, resulting in mood-boosting.
The 2007 study by Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine, found that cold showers can alleviate depressive symptoms. They concluded that by taking cold showers regularly, they could potentially be more effective than prescribed antidepressants.
A cold shower is going to wake you up in the morning. We have already mentioned that it increases your alertness, but if you had trouble getting up and pumped for the day, a cold shower will change this.
Ironically, while cold showers wake you up in the am, cold therapy is one of the best ways to get an incredible night’s sleep. Tim Ferris talks abut cold therapy in ‘The Four Hour Body’, by taking a 10-minute ice bath “the result: it’s like getting hit with an elephant tranquilliser, even if the melatonin is omitted. Don’t expect it to be pleasant at first”.
One thing that worked well for me was taking a “Scottish Shower”. Instead of plunging into a cold shower and nearly killing yourself by jumping out after the longest 15 seconds of your life, you can start out with warm water like normal, then gradually decrease the temperature until the water is as cold as it goes, it is a lot less intense!
A one-off shower is a phenomenal wake-up call, but a lifestyle change to include cold showers provides the foundation for better health.