Why the Cold Shower?

B-Optimal-Blog-Cold Shower

Nearing the end of my 75 Hard Boot Camp, I discovered there were 2 more subsequent phases, that both would include a daily 5-minute freezing cold shower (as cold as it will go).  The thought of doing this created the same stressed feeling in the pit of my stomach as I had while waiting in line to ride The Ninja at Six Flags earlier this summer.  The dread was so strong that every time I thought about taking a cold shower, I immediately dismissed any possibility of my continuing forward with the next phase of the challenge. 

A few weeks later while vacationing in Mexico, the spa at our resort had a hydrotherapy plunge pool experience where you move from 3 minutes in a hot tub set at near 100 degrees, to one minute in a pool that is 50 degrees.  I had the mindset to not “dip my foot in the pool” but to just get all the way in immediately, as to not let my mind take over with panic once I stepped in.  This shift in mindset was effective as I moved from the hot water and quickly immersed to my neck into the shockingly cold water, keeping the inner chatter quiet for 60 seconds while my body convulsed from the lowered temperatures.

What I realized from this experience, is that the anticipation/dread of doing something that we believe is going to be uncomfortable, oftentimes keeps us locked into a position that we cannot move forward, or unnecessarily spikes our anxiety to uncomfortable levels.  In reality, when you courageously move forward through your own perceived boundaries and limitations, you will find that whatever you are fearing, wasn’t all that bad.  After all, I didn’t come off the Ninja sobbing uncontrollably on a stretcher, and the freezing cold water actually felt good in a short amount of time when the self-talk quieted.

With less than one week left in this next phase, and a solid 30 days of cold showers every morning in the rearview, I have learned quite a bit from this exercise:

     -Free Energy Boost – the hormone release that is triggered is reminiscent to an adrenaline rush, resulting in a heightened buzzing feeling post every cold shower.

     -Increased Circulation – shocking cold water puts your circulatory system into overdrive which increases blood flow to warm your core and protect your vital organs.

     -Strengthen Immune Function – a daily cold shower increases the amount of disease fighting white blood cells, comparatively to just taking a warm shower.  Since your body attempts to warm your body temperature during the cold shower, this increases the metabolic speed rate and activation of your immune system, and leads to the release of more white blood cells.

     -Smile More – due to the high density of cold receptors in your skin, a cold shower sends an overwhelming number of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to your brain, resulting in an anti-depressive effect.

     -Lose a few Pounds – your metabolism will increase activation of good fat (brown adipose tissue) which is used to generate heat and insulate you against the cold, igniting your metabolism.

     -You are Building Massive Willpower – doing something that you are so resistant to every single day, takes a lot of fortitude, and overtime, this discipline will become a daily ritual that echoes into every other area of your Life.

     -Channel your Inner Buddha – they will train your nervous system to be more resilient by increasing glutathione and decreasing uric acid levels.  The result from your body being shocked with cold water creates a small form of oxidative stress on your nervous system that will help you to remain calm easier when Life’s daily curveballs are hurled at your face.

     -Improved Skin Health – cold showers tighten and constrict blood flow which gives your skin a healthier glow

     -Improved Muscle Recovery Post Workout

Quick Tips if you are interested in taking the proverbial plunge:

      What has worked for me is to have the shower warm when I step in, and then immediately turn it towards the coldest setting. I would recommend building up to 45 seconds, which seems to be the threshold for when the shock dissipates.  Throughout the process, watch how your mind goes haywire giving you 1,000 reasons to jump out or turn the temperature warmer, but don’t give in, you got this.

Cold showers are now grooved nicely into my morning routine, and because of the massive benefits I am experiencing, they will be with me moving forward regardless of any challenge I am doing.

In Optimal Health,