It’s time for a cold shower, i.e. a shot of energy and a flow of pleasure.
Are you looking for a way to get a daily boost of energy and moments of pure joy? Here is your solution.
A shot of energy and a flow of pleasure can completely change your day. Swimming in an icy lake, cold water right after leaving the sauna, or just a cold shower – who hasn’t heard of it? On the other hand, are we aware of why we should do it? Improved mood, increased energy to act, long-term health-promoting effects, and these are just a small part of the benefits confirmed by research that come from such practices.
In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits of cold water, how to prepare for a cold shower, and how to get the most out of your body and mind.
Table of contents
- What’s in it for me? That is, the benefits of a cold shower.
- How do I get started with a cold shower?
- Cold therapy, or starting a practice
What’s in it for me? That is, the benefits of a cold shower.
Agitation and vigor
Cold showers in the morning can give you energy and vigor, as there is an increased concentration of norepinephrine, which has a stimulating effect, when exposed to the cold.
In addition, cold water increases heart rate and blood flow, which causes stimulation of the body and greater alertness, contributing to the rapid awakening of a person.
Increased levels of endorphins
Cold water sends many electrical impulses to the brain that shake off the system, increasing a person’s alertness, clarity, and energy levels. Endorphins, which are commonly referred to as happiness hormones, are also released. This effect leads to well-being and overall optimism.
Taking a cold shower for up to 5 minutes, two to three times a week, helps relieve symptoms of depression, according to clinical studies.
In the human body, to put it simply, fats are divided into brown and white. What’s the difference between them? Brown is a fat that boosts metabolism and burns calories thanks to thermogenesis, or heat. Thus, it can be said that white fat is its opposite, as its task is to store calories.
If you want to activate and increase the production of brown fat, you need to expose yourself to low temperature (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0810780). Cold stimulates it to intensify metabolic transformations, and is additionally a catalyst in the transformation of white fat into brown fat.
For people struggling with obesity, taking a cold shower isn’t enough to lose weight — they also need to change their other lifestyle habits. However, introducing such a morning ritual with cold water two or three times a week can contribute to increasing metabolism, which will ultimately support the processes of fighting excess weight (link to the study about it). In addition, the effect of low-temperature water can even out the levels of certain hormones and support the treatment of the gastrointestinal system. Putting all these facts together, a cold shower can increase your ability to lose weight.
Submerging your body in cold water can be uncomfortable, but refreshing at the same time. This is because water, which has a lower temperature than that of a human, causes the body to work harder to maintain body heat. This makes it possible for regular use of a cold shower to improve our cardiovascular system. Some fans of this treatment also mention that their skin looks better as a result of taking cold showers, which may also be due to better circulation.
Immune system support
It has also been proven that a cold shower helps fight common diseases and supports the immune system. How? The shock the body receives when it comes into contact with ice water stimulates the leukocytes in the bloodstream. This means that taking such baths can help a person increase their immunity to diseases such as flu or colds. One study found that regular cold showering can help make the body more resistant to certain types of cancer.
In addition, for those who are about to undergo surgery or other treatment that may cause a decrease in immunity, it is recommended to take a cold shower as part of the preparation to compress the risk of catching an infection after the procedure.
There was also a study in which it was proven that participants who went under a stream of cold water while bathing had as many as 29% fewer sick days than those who only used hot showers. (link to research)
If you have a cold or are sick, have recently been discharged from the hospital, or are immunocompromised, wait to take cold showers. While the habit of cool baths is beneficial for most people, for some people, the body may take a longer time to get used to cold therapy. That is why you need to prepare for it properly.
How to get started with a cold shower?
Below you will find some useful tips on how to start your adventure with cold therapy without harm, but in a way that will bring positive changes to your body.
Regulate the temperature
Don’t bathe in ice water right away. Gradually adjust the temperature of the stream, starting with warm, then lukewarm, cooled, and finally completely cold water. If this approach makes you uncomfortable, try an approach where each shower is slightly cooler than the last.
Don’t go all the way right away. Splash your hands, feet, and face with cold water to get used to the temperature, rather than shocking your whole body with instant cold. Otherwise, the body may react very impulsively and send impulses to the brain that it is necessary to “run away” from here. Therefore, start slowly, listen to your body and adjust the length and intensity of your cold shower accordingly. You can try starting with a few seconds at the beginning and extending it by another 10, 20 or 30 seconds with each subsequent session.
It is important to be consistent in your actions. You probably won’t notice any big changes right away (other than energy and a better mood). Practice a cold shower two or three times a week (later it can be even daily), preferably at the same time. This will allow the body to adapt and respond more and more gently to this ritual.
Remember, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” but you might be surprised at how quickly you will like cold therapy and its effects.
Cold therapy, or starting a practice
At first, a cold bath can trigger “chilling” and piercing thoughts. This is not surprising, because our body has different preferences and habits when it comes to showering. To overcome your fear of the cold stream, you should start by pouring water on your hands and feet, gradually moving it to the middle parts of your body. If we’ve already gotten used to our feelings, that’s great. But if it didn’t, that’s okay. The first cold showers can be started and finished on the hands and feet. It is worth trying to move the water to further areas of the body with each subsequent attempt (day after day or week after week). We cannot ignore the fact that cold therapy is a holistic approach. In addition to having a beneficial effect on our body, it also affects our head/thoughts. However, in order for this to happen during our practice, we need to remember about three aspects: attitude, focus, being here and now.
An attitude of curiosity is nothing more than focusing on the place in the body that is being doused at a given moment. You should pay special attention when pouring water on your chest, as this will be the moment when the intensity of your breathing is modified. The natural sensation is a tingling sensation on the skin, a change in the rhythm of inhalation and exhalation. It is essential to overcome the “stop and run” thought and accept the current state.
Focus allows us to control our thoughts, not the other way around. Winter showering can also be treated as a high-level mindfulness practice. This means that with the right focus, we don’t allow our instincts to take control of us, but we clearly prove that we are in charge.
Being in the here and now —that is, we don’t run away from the shower with our thoughts or physically. The first reaction to a new ritual may be a desire to escape, give up and the appearance of thoughts that will distract us from it due to unpleasant associations with cold water. Don’t give up control to these reactions, focus on the parts of your body that are being poured and be in the here and now, not letting your thoughts take over. Such a ritual may last a minute, three or five, but in this short time it makes us very aware that the commands that appear in our mind do not have to control our actions.
PS: A cold shower helps build a connection with yourself, embeds you in your body, primes you. This is extremely important, especially since a significant number of us immediately drift off into thoughts, stress, chaos and being inundated with information from social media or news just after waking up.
Cold therapy is a holistic approach to physical, mental, and emotional health that can affect various aspects of life. A cold shower also helps build a connection with consciousness, embed us in the body, and allows us to focus on the sensations that have arisen in the moment. It’s incredibly important, especially nowadays, when a lot of us are inundated with information, news, general chaos and stress.
Those who want to embark on this adventure must remember to take their time, listen to their body and let themselves be surprised by the benefits that regular practice brings.