Cold Shower Therapy

23 March 2017 | 4 mins

For a good six months or so, way back in 2013-ish just after I moved to Scotland for the first time, I was heavily into self-improvement. I went to the gym religiously, ate clean and kept track of my diet meticulously; and also embraced the challenge of cold shower therapy.

I don’t remember where I first read about the benefits of taking a cold shower, but the biggest motivator to get me to try it was a quote by Joel Runyon of ImpossibleHQ:

If you can’t do something uncomfortable and difficult for 5 minutes in the shower, how the hell are you going to do something uncomfortable or difficult in real life?

It sounds a little inane, I know. How does changing the temperature of your shower translate into fighting ‘real’ situations? It’s true though. Taking control of your life is hard. It’s hard to find time and motivation to go to the gym (as my dusty membership card can attest). It’s hard to kick cravings, whether that’s cigarettes, alcohol, sugar, or whatever your vice is. It’s hard to find the discipline to stick with a plan even when you would rather do anything else. If you can’t (or won’t) take literally zero extra time to make something you already do on a daily basis hard, how are you going to lift your sorry self off the sofa and go for a run?

Most people take a shower in the mornings (citation needed) before they get ready for their day. Tired and bleary-eyed, they stumble to the bathroom wishing they didn’t have to get up so early. A hot shower isn’t going to help with that. It’ll keep you tired, it feels warm and safe. You won’t want to get out of your shower, it’s too comfortable. The world outside your steamy cubicle is mean and cold and uncomfortable. You don’t want to deal with that.

Okay, fair enough. Maybe you hadn’t heard of cold shower therapy before now, and that’s fine. No excuses now though. This will be good for you; what’s your rationale to not at least try it?

You can start by standing outside your shower, staring at the shower head for a good long time, really not wanting to get in and turn on the cold water. I know I did, way back in 2013, in the bathroom of the house share I was living in at the time. You can take as many deep breaths as you like, count to three and chicken out as many times as you want. Stare at yourself in the bathroom mirror all you want. You can do it. You’ll hate it, it will suck, but you can do it. I believe in you. And your day from thereon out will be glorious. Magical. You can take on anything, because you already know you’ve got the resolve inside you to do difficult and uncomfortable things.

You’ll come to embrace the cold showers. Probably never actively enjoy them admittedly; but look forward to them? Sure. You’ll crave the feeling of power and the feeling of beating your fears. You’ll want the energy boost for the day, and the steely resolve that washes over you as you step inside your shower with your teeth gritted. You want to crush the emotional fear and walk out of your bathrooom ready to take on the world.

Okay, confession time. I’ve been avoiding cold showers for the past month or so. What a hypocrite, I hear you say. No real reason for it either, I just kept putting it off, telling myself I’d start again soon. Finally, a week ago today I decided I’d had enough of my own excuses. I forgot how cold my shower actually goes; it’s physically painful when I turn it all the way down. I haven’t had a warm shower for a week now though (except for the first two minutes on Tuesday morning after I’d been out for a run in the snow), and I feel a lot better already.

Try it. 30 days, at least. You can do it. Have a warm towel waiting for you when you get out if you want, or a hot water bottle under your sheets, whatever you need. Thirty days. I’ll even do it with you. Days that you miss don’t count, although I’m not so cruel as to make you start again from the beginning if you screw up. You can quit after 30 days if you really want to, but I don’t think that you will. You got this.

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