Hello, and Happy 2020!
It’s weird to say that but I hope you all feel refreshed and ready for the year. I would say ‘ready to face your new goals’ but hopefully, you continually set goals for yourself, not just for January or the New Year.
As for me, I am very excited that my new book will be coming out at the end of this week: You Are More Than That will be available on Amazon from Sunday 26th January. It’s a book on discovering your true purpose and living it, with five steps I outline, plus ideas, experiences and actions to help you live your most fulfilling life.
I’ve also recently been undergoing a challenge recently that’s called IronMind, a 60-day challenge created by Rob Dial, whereby each day you must do six things:
- Follow a meal plan of choice
- Avoid alcohol
- Take a cold shower.
The cold shower was a challenge at first, but now I’ve come to realise how crucial and beneficial it is. So, this is what I wanted to share today.
Why would you take a cold shower, Jonny? That’s crazy!
Well that’s me. J I’ve also come to love and appreciate all the weirdness and craziness about myself. If that’s you too, learn to appreciate those things about you.
Anyway, back to cold showers…
It was hard work, yes, but I built it up and now it’s a regular habit. There is plenty in life where ‘we don’t want to do that’, yet these things provide us with certain benefits.
There’s the little voice in your head, saying, ‘don’t do it’ or ‘you don’t really need to do that’, but coming out of my comfort zone and taking on the cold shower challenge has helped me so much.
The survival instinct part of the brain, remember, is always trying to keep you in your comfort zone too—not necessarily looking for new experiences or habits that might benefit you. I’ve backed up the cold shower rationale with my own experiences and other research-experienced benefits.
My benefits of enjoying an exciting cold shower:
It quashes that little voice trying to stay in a safe place
You know, the voice that comes in when you try something challenging, such as asking your boss a difficult question, trying an extreme sport or activity, asking that person out or standing up and speaking in public.
I’ve found having a cold shower increases my willingness to step outside my comfort zone and embark on something challenging.
Coffee in the morning? Naaah, just have a cold shower! Or both! The cold shower really gives me a kick though, and then doesn’t drop my energy levels afterward in the way coffee does.
I can feel half asleep in a warm shower, but the cold one really gets me going ready for the day.
Relaxed and focused
I have found that once I’ve done my cold shower, my body actually feels quite relaxed. I then find that in the relaxed state, I’m more ready to move on to the next morning activity, whether that’s writing or speaking. I become more focused as a result.
Get the day going with a sense of achievement
Standing in the cold shower for two minutes is certainly a challenge. When I’ve completed this, I feel fantastic, ready to take on more for the day.
I try and praise myself for every small win and this certainly is one.
Embrace pressure and stress
Day-to-day life will be filled with challenges, stress and pressure. Standing in a cold shower fills your body with an external stimulus that exerts pressure on you (like what will happen in life).
By learning to accept the cold shower and not fight it, I’ve found I’m much more resilient to day-to-day challenges being thrown at me. It’s not about fighting them but surrendering to them and going with them.
Boost your immune system
Research has shown that exposure to blasts of cold can stimulate a sluggish immune system and give a kickstart to lymphatic drainage, essential for fighting infection and staving off auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory issues.
While I certainly don’t recommend it when you’re in the middle of a flare-up of an auto-immune disease, practising cold showers at other times should help you stave off all manner of immunity-based ailments.
Don’t just take my word for it!
Now, research is always finding pros and cons to things like this, and that is why I shared the benefits in the section before.
A number of credible sources I researched online and in books all backed up why a cold shower is good.
Of course, if you want to read up more, good old Dr Google will have more than enough articles, but I found the following resources particularly helpful:
Medical Daily, Runners World, Menprovement, Higher Status by Jason Capital. You will also find a lot of information about Wim Hof who combines cold showering with his famous breathing techniques. Check out YouTube for video materials about Wim.
This is a summary of the benefits of cold showers, extracted from all these sources:
- Energy to start the day
- Relieve muscle soreness by reducing lactic acid
- Stronger mentality to face daily challenges / help emotional resilience to prepare the brain for stress
- Lower depression by stimulating the release of noradrenaline
- Increase fat loss, by using fat to keep warm
- Increase blood circulation to the organs to stay warm
- Improve skin and hair by reducing the body’s natural oil loss
- Increase in testosterone
- Drain the lymphatic system of cellular waste to improve the immune system
- Promote better quality of sleep and relaxation.
Some tips for getting used to cold showers
Well, this seems like a big challenge, so how do I go about doing this?
Like anything new, don’t go in too big or else it may be counterproductive, potentially leading you to give up. It’s best to start small and then build up to longer times.
I’m on two minutes at the moment, which I find highly beneficial—but I had to build up to that.
Building up like this can help:
- 30 seconds
- 1 minute
- 90 seconds
- 2 minutes.
Or even break it down further to:
- 15 seconds
- 30 seconds
- 45 seconds.
Go at your own pace, I did a few days of 30 seconds before a few days of a minute and then built up incrementally to two minutes.
Another key tip is not to fight the cold but to embrace and accept it. Learn that you are in a cold shower. If you struggle with this, try and say, ‘I accept and embrace this cold shower’ rather than fighting it.
Finally, make it into a habit and reward yourself for doing it. You might give yourself a couple of squares of dark chocolate—high cocoa content of 70% or so is actually quite healthy—for completing it each day. This is rewarding your brain for doing something good and it will learn that message. Plus, quality dark chocolate also has immunity benefits!
You can do longer than 2 minutes if you want, but I find 2 minutes beneficial enough for me. I would suggest though that anything under a minute is not going to give you enough benefit, although of course build up at the start.
Are cold showers nice or luxurious when you’re in one? No! But they’re like many challenging things in life; they can give you such a boost and benefit when you make it into a regular habit.
I’ve felt such a boost in the morning, becoming more resilient to mental challenges and more focused.
Since a plethora of research supports the benefits of cold showers, you can feel well supported when indulging in this practice.
It’s not to say you can’t ever have a luxury hot shower or warm bath again, but a morning cold shower can really help you set your day up right.
Photo by Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash
Jonny Pardoe © January 2020
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