Cold showers are old news. Feel free to skip this post if you already take them.
- Victor Pride swears by them in 30 Days of Discipline
- Matt Forney advocates them and mentions a few of their benefits
- SJ from Ignore Limits has written a post and even an eBook on the benefits of cold showering
On the other hand, if you aren’t currently taking them, or have never thought to, read on and reconsider.
Fear keeps you from taking a cold shower.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
-Frank Herbert, Dune
Fear? How melodramatic.
Fear is only supposed to be for imminent death or pain, right?
Now why would anyone be afraid of a little cold shower? I suspect it’s the same reason they’re afraid of not having an orgasm. Or for requiring trigger warnings after some “I disagree” tweets gave you PTSD.
Some people fear being deprived of what amounts to a brief sensory experience, as if the deprivation itself were pain or the withdrawls from an addiction. They can’t let go of being deprived, they absolutely MUST have it even if it’s fleeting.
I don’t point this out condescendingly either – it’s how most of us are if we’ve grown up with comforts we might feel entitled to.
I am well aware that the whole “conquering your fear” is an old, beaten dead horse, but I’ll go a little bit into my experience.
How I began taking cold showers regularly
Prior to the summer of 2014, I had heard about cold showers and their benefits over and over again. I had tried it once or twice using the “Art of Manliness” method where you start with warm water and gradually turn it to cold. Using that weak method, I did not really see the point in them unless it was to cool down during the summer so I eventually just didn’t bother with cold water except to rinse out my hair.
I actually began taking true cold showers in the summer to rinse off all the sweat I’d get from the heat. To this day, every time I take a cold shower it never ceases to be both a little challenging and a little rewarding. Right before I get into that shower the very same inkling of recoil from the thought of being immersed in cold water comes up.
I remind myself that when I step under the water, I already expect it to be cold and uncomfortable. I hold no delusions that it is going to be comfortable. When I did this, the imaginary pain that occurred when I stepped into the water was virtually nonexistent.
Every time I get ready to take my daily cold shower though, I’m reminded when I step under that water that it’s never as bad as I had anticipated. When you actually experience it, it’s not painful at all.
Even on a winter vacation to a northerly state where the cold water is truly, almost overwhelmingly cold, I found it wasn’t painful after the first jolt. This might be different for people with arthritic joints, but that’s beside the point:
The only people who would see it as “painful” are the ones who see themselves as “deprived” for not standing under warm or hot water. It’s the mentality that separates people who enjoy cold showers from people who enjoy hot showers.
The “shock” that jolts people who are unprepared for cold water is in my opinion almost entirely psychosomatic. When you take cold showers after a while, you don’t experience that “shock” of fear from discomfort because you know what to expect. You don’t feel entitled to warmth, and you don’t shirk from the cold.
The end of the cold shower is the ultimate reward: you’re clean and your body is jolted awake in its efforts to maintain body temperature. It’s substantially more rewarding than sensory comfort for its own sake, and it only takes just as long.
Warm showers do not offer a similar reward by comparison: you feel nice and warm at first, the heat relaxing your body, but until you get sick from the heat, you may dread the discomfort of being cold from stepping out of the warmth until you manage to dry yourself off.
The former teaches you to do the hard stuff before you get the reward; the latter teaches you to get the reward and stay away from the hard stuff.
Warm showers are like the womb. It’s nice and comfortable and you just don’t want to get out. However the world is not a comforting womb, and a cold shower is a nice daily reminder of that so you don’t have any unrealistic expectations about the relationship between the challenge you must overcome before receiving a reward.
Now, I’m not against hot or warm showers. I think everything has its time and place. I still take an occasional meditative warm shower but always turn it to cold at the end. Cold showers are and always will be my daily staple.
tl;dr of the Cold Shower Protips
- Don’t see a cold shower as being a “deprivation” from the hot water you feel you deserve
- The “pain” you feel from being jolted awake is just the weakness leaving your body (kidding, but fun to think about)
- Appreciate how fast and brisk the cold shower is and how much better and cleaner you feel afterward
People tend to feel entitled to insignificant things like hot water and happy feelings.
In my opinion, a daily quick cold shower is just one of several, seemingly insignificant little lifestyle changes that can make you thankful for more substantial things in life and to challenge you to exercise your willpower. If you’ve never done it before, it’s a baby step in the right direction.