I’ve been taking at least one a day for the past three weeks.
I’m talking about the kind of cold that gives you an ice cream headache if you stand in the water too long without moving.
When I studied Kundalini yoga, cold showers were part of the recommended morning ritual.
I remember thinking, Oh. Hell. No.
Then I learned about the Wim Hof method.
Wim Hof (I think Wim is his first name and Hof is his last but don’t quote me on that) teaches people how to control their breathing, heart rate, and blood circulation to withstand extreme temperatures.
This man has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains in his shorts, ran half marathons in the Arctic barefoot, swam under ice for 66 meters.
He teaches a series of breathing methods to go with cold water immersion that science says boosts immunity, improves mental health, increases athletic performance, decreases stress, increases energy, improves sleep and on and on and on.
Still, no $%^&ing way, I thought.
Then my husband and I joined a longevity course called The Longevity Blueprint with Ben Greenfield, one of the fittest humans on the planet.
Ben will show us how to age backwards or at least age in a way that would allow us to play tennis into our nineties and beyond if we are lucky enough to live that long.
Because, I’m 47. And honestly, I’ve started to feel it.
There are the on and off bladder issues (I will save you the details) that interfere with my sleep. And the all over stiffness I feel at night while walking back and forth to the toilet.
Of course, just my luck, the very first thing he recommends is hot/cold showers every day.
So, mostly because I paid $300 to take this course, I gave in.
My first cold shower was terrible.
I tried skydiving once in my twenties. I remember standing on the edge of that airplane looking down at the ground below. Every cell in my body wanted to turn back.
But it was a slalom jump meaning I was attached to an experienced diver. So I couldn’t run to the back of the plane and cower in the corner.
My first cold shower was a lot like my first (and last) sky dive. Every cell in my body wanted to resist stepping into that icy stream of water.
Somehow even though it was not a slalom shower, I managed to step in. I screamed so loudly for those two minutes that my children ran into the bathroom terrified I had hurt myself. All they encountered was me naked, jumping and screaming in an icy spray of shower water.
The next day was similar. And the next. (By then my children knew to ignore the screams.)
But you know what? I noticed myself growing less and less freaked out each day.
And something else. It actually started to get less hard to step into the icy water. WHAT??? And after standing in the icy cold water, I noticed my body felt uh-mazing. There’s this feeling of alertness and vitality in the muscles. (You really have to try it.) And I slept really well that week.
I’m starting week three of cold showers. I started with one a day but Ben says two is ideal so now – look at me! — I’m taking two a day, one in the am and one at night.
I’ve been sticking with it because it actually feels good now (all but the first ten seconds) and based on the research, it’s making a long-term difference in my health.
And the BIGGEST thing I’ve noticed about taking cold showers every day?
More than anything else I just feel so damn good about myself. I remember how afraid I was to do it. And now I’m this bad ass cold shower taker. Which reminds me of how damn powerful I am.
Which got me thinking…
Thanks to this pandemic, we are being forced to go through something really hard, harder than taking an icy cold shower for two minutes.
Like that slalom skydive, we can’t opt out.
I won’t ever willingly jump out of an airplane again I can guarantee you that but I felt pretty bad ass after the experience. Strong. Capable. Able to do hard things.
So maybe you are reading this thinking, it’s hard enough for me to take a hot shower right now with all the crazy going on in the world and in my life.
If that’s you…
Eventually you will move through this craziness and come out the other side stronger. You don’t have to do anything. This experience will show you how capable you really are, how much you can withstand, how resourceful you can be.
When you get caught up in the scary, remind yourself that this experience is showing you how powerful you truly are. If you can do this, you can do anything.
If you don’t completely reject the idea of willingly taking cold showers on principle then…
I recommend intentionally seeking out something scary to do every day.
It might mean finally starting your book. Or launching a product. Or asking for a sale.
Maybe you ask that cute guy out (on a zoom date of course).
Or you go for that promotion.
Or you go outside for your first ever jog.
Or you take an icy cold shower.
Because doing something scary changes you.
If you allow yourself to face the fear and move through it, you come out the other side somebody different.
You come out a version of yourself who isn’t afraid to do the scary thing anymore.
And you realize, if you can do that scary thing, you can do just about anything.
I remember when the hot water ran out in our camper. I thought about what I’ve heard about people purposely taking showers like this. Hell no, not me! ( but maybe now I’ll reconsider)
That was me too. Now I”m a believer!
OK… I’m gonna start doing this! I’ve know about how great cold showers are for you for months but have been AFRAID to try it. I’m gonna start… the full 2 minutes, head under. Thanks so much, Amy, for the motivation.
You can do it!
I admire your courage, determination and perseverance Amy!
I have seen the videos about Wim Hof but am still at the point of thinking I’d prefer a (possibly) shorter life than endure cold water all over me! I CAN put up with a little cold wash here and there. At 63 it seems a bit late to really care or want to endure stuff that is not comfortable. I get your point however, and it is a good point. Maybe your story will suddenly inspire me to give it a proper go. Thanks for sharing your experience so honestly.
LOL Jen! I hear you! But it actually DOES feel very nice when you’re done.