I've been seeing a lot of stuff on the net lately about the benefits of cold showers. If you haven't ready anything on the topic the supposed benefits include improved circulation, better skin and hair, a boost for your immune system and general mood lift. The actual proven health benefits of this appear to be pretty sketchy so the benefits may well be limited or non-existent. Anyhow, here is some reading about James Bond, cold showers and their alleged benefits just to show this isn't something I just made up. Maybe some other guy just made it up… moving on.
I (Andrew) was inspired by the notion of testing my will while obtaining health benefits using a piece of equipment that I already have, a shower, and have been trying this out for the past two days. Although that isn't very long I have made some observations.
Getting yourself to stay under cold water is really difficult. Apparently your body gets used to the cold and this process becomes less traumatic over time however getting my body to remain under the cold water is fairly tough. I find myself fighting a constant battle with the reflex to get my skin away from the stream of cold water.
It wakes you up. Really. I haven't had any coffee today or yesterday. Stepping out of a cold shower I feel possibly more alert than I ever have and, although that fades somewhat over several hours, I definitely feel more awake and alert than I typically would. Highly recommended for this reason alone.
Stepping out of a cold shower I feel like I've achieved something. It might be something small but starting the day by triumphing through force of will over the cold water and your instinct to avoid it is quite a nice way to start the day. Its surprisingly empowering.
For the moment at least I've decided that the best (ie least worst) way to do this is to start with a lukewarm but not hot shower. Enjoy that, relax, then turn the water off or simply step out of the water. Soap up all the bits of you that you want soapy. Put shampoo in your hair, apply soap to your sweaty body etc. Now get the cold water going… At this point the only commitment you need is to get the soap off without resorting to turning on the hot water. Do that however you see fit. Unless you plan on living out the rest of your life naked, soap covered and in your shower you have to wash the soap off somehow using only cold water.
So am I spending ten minutes meditating beneath the cascade of icey water? No. Maybe I will one day but right now I'm content with this routine of cornering myself in a situation where I have little choice but to douse myself with a little cold water. That seems to work and that is my starting point for the rest of this experiment.