Ice, ice baby
We all know the feeling: the alarm woke us up waaaaay before we were fully ready to exit dreamland and leave our warm, cozy bed. Sadly, our job and/or children require us to be up and running, while we still feel half asleep. So we drag our tired body to the shower, have breakfast with our brains still on stand-by mode and leave the house with this nagging feeling of exhaustion. I have certainly been there and most likely you have too. When my partner recommended to finish my morning shower with a cold douse, I was skeptical at first, but I gave it a try and after a couple of days, after I got used to the routine, I came to love it and never felt more awake and rejuvenated in the morning. Especially as a mom who doesn’t always enjoy the luxury of sleeping like a baby (quite the contrary in fact), this was like a miracle to me.
Benefits of a cold shower
- Stimulates the fat-burning process, as it activates the brown fat cells in our body. When we are exposed to extreme cold, brown fat generates heat to keep us warm. This process increases the energy turnover of our body and thus burns calories.
- Enhances your blood circulation, as your blood vessels become tightened by the cold water and subsequently relax again when your body warms up. Thereby, they stay elastic and are able to better transport nutrients and oxygen through the system.
- Strengthens your immune system, as the cold temperature mobilizes the white blood cells in your body.
- Helps your muscles regenerate (this is particularly relevant if you are exercising a lot)
- Reduces inflammation factors by constricting the blood vessels
- Wakes you up like even the strongest coffee couldn’t
- Reduces stress, as the exposure to cold activates the part of your brain that is responsible for creating happy and positive emotions
- Last but not least: it strengthens your resilience and willpower, which are definitely good traits to have if you want to succeed in life. Consider it your tool for building up your stamina
What to aim for
You want to work up to taking a cold shower for about one minute. It is recommended to start with 10 or even only 5 seconds and gradually work your way up. Every week you should aim to last 5 to 10 seconds longer. Most importantly: this is all about your mental ability, your will.
How to get started
Maybe you are one of those brave people who have no problem just switching their shower temperature from comfily warm to ice-cold with the blink of an eye and without even flinching. If so, great, but if you are someone who needs to “test the water” first (no pun intended) and build up the courage first, gradually lower the shower temperature and allow your body to get slowly adjusted to each lower degree. Moreover, to prevent the ultimate cold shock moment, start by letting the water run over your legs and arms before exposing your full body to the icy cold. Start with your right leg, as its blood vessels are the most distant from your heart and thus reduce the shock to your system. The first couple of times, it will probably take you a while longer, but pretty soon you will be standing under the shower head and bracing yourself for the cold drops to hit your skin, but you will also not be shocked by the sensation anymore. On the contrary, you will get to enjoy it in a way, especially the feeling it gives you when you get out of the shower and start your day refreshed and alert.