Throughout 2020 I actually took a cold shower for 30 Days in a row 3 different times. It was a part of the #LiveHard challenge. I just completed my 3rd 30 day stint of cold showers and I wanted to talk about my experience with them, the upsides and the downsides.
Cold showers have a lot of proven health benefits, it lowers inflammation which is why you see athletes take cold baths, it helps with your immune system, it speeds up your metabolism, and can help your blood circulation just to name a few benefits.
However none of the previous listed reasons are why I was doing cold showers. The reason cold showers are a part of the #LiveHard program is because they SUCK, and doing things that suck, yet are beneficial to you even when you don’t want to is a great way to boost your mental toughness.
And I am not a fan of cold in any form, especially running water, so this was quite the challenge for me.
These cold showers were usually the part of my day I looked forward to the least. Which is a pretty good thing when you consider that after taking this shower the rest of my day was smooth sailing as no obstacle I faced that day was going to be as tough as standing in that freezing cold water. I took these usually pretty early in my day after I got my first workout done making it a rough, but good way to start my days.
I got way better with the cold in these times. I remember the first time I took a cold shower if a single drop touched my back I would instantly freeze up, my jaw would drop and I would just be paralyzed in the cold. Now I usually start with the water hitting my back as I saw that as my weakness and I trained it to be a strength. I’m not sure how this will help me outside of the cold showers but it feels good to see progress in strengthening a weakness in any area.
The cold showers felt really good on my sore muscles after hard workouts. I take really good care of my body so I can’t credit cold showers fully for my fast recovery from workouts, but I can say that once I started making a conscious effort to see if taking cold showers affect my recovery time I found that I would feel really good 20-30 minutes after a cold shower in whatever area I was sore in.
Unfortunately the worst downside of cold showers is they made me not look forward to showers. Taking hot showers is something I have used as a productivity tool for a while now as I can think clearly when in the shower and usually can solve problems better in hot water than I can anywhere else making them a sort of sacred spot for me. But when incorporating the cold showers it took that away from me because I didn’t want to take the shower, and the whole time I was in the hot portion of the shower I would just be dreading the cold water coming and taking me out of my flow.
It’s hard, and doesn’t get any easier.. Standing in super cold water, just shivering, as time slows down is not the most fun. If you’re anything like me then it’s a lot easier to want to incorporate cold showers when you’re out of the shower and can clearly think of the benefits versus being in the cold water just wanting it to end. Like I previously stated the cold did become a bit more tolerable, but it never became easier, it always was super cold, it always made me flinch when the cold water started coming, and it always slowed down time.
As of now I don’t need to do any more 30 day cold shower periods until I start the LiveHard program again later this year, so what am I going to do about my cold showers?
Well considering the upsides and the downsides I think the best way to go about it is to continue the cold showers, but not daily. You see I’m all about bettering myself and doing whatever it takes to get better and push towards my goals. Part of my goals are optimizing my health and my mental toughness and the showers do just that therefore cutting them out would be foolish.
And in between my 3 30 day periods of cold showers I didn’t continue them which made them equally hard, if not harder to start as when I first started and lost all benefits I gained from the showers.
So what seems best to me is taking cold showers after hard workouts, when I need their healing effects but keeping myself to doing them at least 3 times a week so I don’t revert back into my cowardice feeling towards cold.
But I also really benefit from purely hot showers equally if not more than the cold. Taking cold showers only 3+days a week leaves me open to also taking my hot showers whenever I want the mental clarity they provide me, or whenever I just want to relax.
I complained a lot during my cold shower period due to my pure distaste for cold water, but I can’t continue hating something that is making me better, and more proud of myself. Therefore I will continue incorporating them into my daily life outside the program and continue to reap the benefits they provide, the good and the bad.