Cold showers in Summer, sure. In Winter though? I must be out of my mind! Or am I?
What if Cold Showers were a simple answer to a host of different health questions? Would you be even a little curious about them?
At the end of last Summer I began to challenge myself with cold showers. I really enjoyed the invigoration that I felt from them. It was pretty easy to do, as the weather was generally hot and a cold shower was often a welcome reprieve from the heat and humidity, especially after exercise.
When the cooler weather came around I changed my pattern to step into the shower under the cold water before it turned warm. This gave me about 30-45 seconds of shockingly brisk wakefulness before the oh! so comforting warmth of the hot water coming through the pipes.
Recently though, I came across some studies on the benefits of 3-5 minutes of cold water in a shower. And the results are pretty amazing!
For starters, cold showers are excellent for the health of your skin. The contraction of your skin and blood flow inwardly is like a toning workout that'll stave off wrinkles. Also, avoiding hot water will help your natural oils stay on your skin, keeping it soft, moisturized and healthy. Same goes for your hair!
This chilly experience also helps your immune and hormonal systems become really robust. Improving lymphatic drainage, lowering resting cortisol levels, increased white blood cell activity and improved sleep.
Here’s a list of some of the findings from studies that have been done on cold showers:
- Reduce oxidative stress – increased production of glutathione
- Increases alertness and helps reset daily cortisol rhythms
- Improves skin and hair condition and allows for the natural oils of your body to remain
- Stimulates weight loss via kick-starting your thyroid to help support thermoregulation
- Increases male testosterone production as well as amount and quality of sperm (regular warm baths have been shown to dramatically drop sperm count in men for months)
- Improved circulation
- Improved immunity and lymphatic drainage
- Relieve depression
- Enhance muscle recovery post exercise
- Improves sleep
All of these may still not be enough for you to even consider taking a cold shower. And it's this that's the real issue!
Your unwillingness to be uncomfortable is the true challenge.
Comfort is great. After all, it’s comfortable! But dwelling too long and too deeply in our comfort zone is a certain way to retard growth and, from my observation, to accelerate aging.
We need to more regularly challenge our comfort zone so that we can become more comfortable with discomfort! This is the primary benefit of cold showers for me. To be able to meet myself everyday in something that's not comfortable. To make a choice about something that I know is going to benefit me but I just plainly don't want to do.
This choice is a defining difference in those that make their dreams into a reality and those that live a humdrum life of mediocrity.
Check out this TEDx talk on Cold Showers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gb0h8ZKvJW4
Comfort vs. Growth
Convenience and comfort are the sure paths to decreased resilience. Allowing for opportunities to be with what's uncomfortable and less convenient gives us the opportunity to adapt. This adaptation is what stimulates an anabolic (tissue building/growth) state in our body, which promotes healing and youthfulness.
Bottom line, if you're always seeking comfort and convenience you're likely to descend in vitality and age much more rapidly. Finding the optimum level of environmental and physiological pressure to encourage growth is a dance well worth learning and practicing daily.
Promoting this Eustress (good stress – challenges which are supportive of a system) vs Stress (challenges that are detrimental to a system) will add years to your life and see you living vibrantly and youthfully whatever your age is.
Cold showers are a simple and (somewhat) easy way to challenge your comfort zone regularly to cultivate this eustress. Waking in the morning from a warm slumber to enter into a cold cubicle with icy sheets of water coursing over your tender naked frame is truly less than appealing, even to one as crazy as myself. Yet, I also find it a marvelous way to steel myself to meet a situation that is challenging yet manageable. And oh! The feeling when I dry myself off! Such blissful, alert wakefulness that feels truly vibrant and ALIVE!
Try it for 30 days and see for yourself! 5 minutes of cold water running over your body and notice what happens in a month. Get ready to be pleasantly surprised!