The Benefits of Cold Showers (Yikes!)

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cold-shower Hi! It has been awhile since I've posted. I started working full time at my job in January and I am still adjusting to it. In a nutshell by the time Friday gets here I am promising myself I can spend Saturday in bed if I wish, and several Saturdays since have been spent mostly in bed.  I am sure I will adjust to the extra day but in the meantime I am being gentle with myself.

Disclaimer: Due to the way cold conditioning works, please check with your health practitioner to be sure your body can withstand a short spike of blood pressure and that your heart is healthy.

I've been wanting to tell you about my experience with taking cold showers. I can also tell you I've never imagined saying those words. I am one of those people who feels like cold showers are torture and so when one of my Facebook friends said exactly that, “This is torture, Starlene, next you'll be water boarding yourself” I could relate. I can definitely understand why someone would think I'm nuts to be undergoing icy cold showers.

“Warm showers have become one of the hallmarks of comfort in our culture, so converting our showers to cold might seem unthinkable.

But what if you knew that taking cold showers could enhance your immune system, increase circulation, strengthen your metabolism, increase your antioxidant count, act as an anti-depressant, improve your relationships, and make you feel vibrantly alive?”

~Kenton Whitman – Rebooted Body

If you've followed my health journey you may recall that I was doing some cold conditioning back in March 2012 so I was already aware of some of the benefits. I lost momentum and completely stopped but several weeks ago my friend Jessica posted on her Facebook timeline about cold conditioning by taking cold showers.

Some of the things that caught my eye:

  • Helps adrenal function
  • Helps thyroid function
  • “Grows” brown fat
  • Tolerate cold better
  • Immune system works better

The author of the article, Kenton Whitman talked of how his wife had been dead set against the practice but took him up on his challenge to try it for just 8 days, and ended up loving it! And so although I really, really, really, really love hot showers and hot baths, and just the mere thought of taking an icy cold shower makes me shiver, I decided to take the plunge.

I got started the next day. First I took a quick comfortably warm shower to soap up and rinse and then I turned off the hot water. WHOOO! It is hard not to shriek from the difference in temperature but I forced myself to stand there facing the cold water (hitting me from the neck down) for one full minute. I counted one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, etc., turned off the water and was done for the day.

It is hard to turn off the hot water, knowing soon the cold water will hit my body, and it is hard to stand there in the cold water, but I feel it is helping me to handle stress in my life. I asked to work an extra 8 hours each week because my boss broke her shoulder in December, and I had been struggling to keep up with trying to do both our jobs. It is stressful at home. I think the exercise of willing myself to stand in the ice water helps because I have to consciously will my body to relax, instead of standing all tensed up.

  • 2-3 days 1 minute front side
  • 2-3 days 1 minute front side, then 1 minute back side
  • 2-3 days 2 minutes front side, then 1 minute back side
  • 2-3 days 2 minutes front side, then 2 minutes back side

When I had worked my way up to four minutes, I decided to start making a quarter turn at 1 minute intervals. So 1 minute front side, turn to the left for one minute, 1 minute back side, turn to the right side for one minute.

After working my way up to four minutes total, I decided to add on one more minute on the front side. By that time, it is almost pleasurable to stand there as my body has already become accustomed to the cold water.

Little things I notice:

  • Once I turn off the hot water, the cold water becomes even colder close to the first minute
  • It takes from 10-30 seconds to endure the cold water and stop gasping – LOL
  • I do not feel cold once I get out of the shower
  • I do feel like I am in a better mood and can cope better for the day

I have tested the water at its coldest which is only 59°F.  It saddens me to think that within a few short weeks I will not be able to take my cold showers.

Wait, did I just say that?

Actually, knowing my time is limited is incentive to do it while I can.

I don't cold condition every single morning, only on the days I go into the office. And there have been days when I didn't get enough sleep and feel so grumpy and depressed that it just makes me start crying while the cold water is running over my body, because it feels like punishment… so I just skip those days. I tried cold conditioning to see if it would help my mood and I just don't know if it did or not.

What about you? Have you tried taking cold showers?  Would you try it for the health benefits?

 

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