Cold Shower Therapy™ Guide

by 126 Comments

The Official Cold Shower Therapy Guide

Welcome to the Cold Shower Therapy Guide. On this page you’ll find everything you need to know about a concept I call Cold Shower Therapy. Sounds like torture, huh? So what exactly is Cold Shower Therapy?

Cold Shower Therapy™ in 140 Characters

If you can’t do something uncomfortable and difficult for 5 minutes in the shower, how the hell are you going to do something uncomfortable or difficult in real life?

Who Needs Cold Shower Therapy™?

Everyone. I use it as a litmus test for people. I’ve never met anyone who’s tried it and regretted doing it. Literally no one.

>> Download The CST App Today <<

Cold Shower Index

Cold Shower Therapy Articles

Cold Shower FAQ

Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about cold showers and Cold Shower Therapy.

How cold does my cold shower have to be?

Really cold.

Wow, that sounds cold.


So how cold does it really have to be?

As cold as your shower goes.

What if my shower is extra cold? Like really, really cold?

Sucks to be you.

But seriously? I live in Antarctica.

Say “hi” to a penguin for me.

You’re mean.


How long do my showers have to be?

Five minutes long.

Do they have to be cold for all of those five minutes?

Yes, that’s what five minutes means.

I don’t have time to do this

Bull. You take a shower every day already. All you have to do is turn it to cold instead of hot. It takes exactly ZERO additional time. The only extra time you’re using up is the time it’s taking you to make excuses.

I think you’re stupid

*High five*

Are you crazy?


Is this medically safe?

People can survive hypothermia for thirty to sixty minutes. Your shower is not as cold as a frozen lake and you won’t even get close to hypothermia. You can handle five minutes of being cold. If you must, have a space heater waiting for you when you get out.

Are you a doctor? Why should I listen to you?

I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play a doctor on TV (how lame is that?). As a rule, you shouldn’t believe anything you read on the internet. But your life will suck if you’re not willing to test out crazy ideas. Test everything for yourself and figure out what works for you.

Cold Shower Therapy Videos

Cold Shower Video Demonstration

What Does Cold Shower Therapy Do Anyways?

3 Health Benefits of Cold Showers

TEDxLUC – How Cold Showers Can Change Your Life

Cold Shower Therapy Experiences

Here are a few stories and experiences from readers who have taken the Cold Shower Therapy (#cst) challenge.

The Official CST App


“Here’s what I learned: Doing things is not nearly as bad as imagining doing things. We build up in our minds that this will be grueling, agonizing, and more painful than anything else, and so we don’t do it. In reality, our imaginations are so powerful that reality pales by comparison. Once you put your imagination out of the equation and just do the thing, you realize it wasn’t as bad as all that, and there really was no good reason for not doing it sooner. Tell your brain that you appreciate it’s help but you’re going to do it anyway, then do it.” – Sharna

What I love about cold showers is that if the first thing you do every morning is something you don’t want to do, you set yourself up for success for the rest of the day; doing things you may not want to do, but know you must do. – Christopher

I attempted a cold shower yesterday and for some reason DC water was so fricken cold I nearly blacked out. It was awesome. – Patrick

Just finished my thirty days, it was amazing. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. – John

4 days to go. Funny that now it’s just about following through. I keep thinking- only five more, no one will know if I take a warm one, but then I think – I will know. So many good things to say about CST! – Kate

“My shower in the Philippines isn’t cold enough, so I took a bucket of water, and threw a block of ice into it to chill it while using a dipper to actually take the shower” – Chiara 

I tried your cold shower therapy thing this morning just because you mentioned it ALL THE TIME….and I gotta say I felt completely hardcore afterwards. It was awesome. Fully intend to do it again tomorrow  – Julie

Took the first one of 30 days worth of cold showers this morning. Cursed your name for putting this crazy idea in my head when that first blast of frigid water hit me  Emerged feeling invincible. Who knows what changes 30 days of this will bring. Thanks! – Rich

Totally worth it. If you are wasting your energy on something in your life, and this will help you stop. You will thank yourself for being such a tough motherf*cker afterward!

If you’ve lost your battle cry try #coldshowertherapy. You’ll find it. Trust me. #boom – Vic Magary

That was awesome! I cannot believe I went from panic to calm acceptance in 28 days. I feel like a different person. Mission accomplished! – Eva

I have been taking cold showers for more than a month now. That alone has made me cut the bull sh*t out of my life. Even people say I’m totally different, and I call people out in the moment. It has made some relationships chafe, but I’m no longer the people pleasing push over I used to be, and I’ve lost some weight. – Montserrat

I’ve only taken Cold Showers the past 3 days thanks to Joel Runyon. – Maneesh Sethi

A great way to get unstuck, a reminder that I am the only one stopping me from reaching my goals.

Brrrrrrrrrrrilliant – Melanie

Take The Cold Shower Therapy Challenge

>> Download The CST App Today <<

Grow Stronger, Do The Impossible

Get weekly emails on how to build a stronger mind, a stronger body and stronger life and do the impossible.

No Spam. Ever.


  1. Silvana says

    I read this article yesterday and was amazed.
    It’s exactly what I need in my life right now, take control, challenge myself, become mentally stronger and keep on track for achieving my goals. Wasn’t skeptical at all, only curious about how I was going to react and overcome every single minute under the cold water.
    I decided to start today and jump into the shower right after waking up. And I did. When I opened my eyes, first thing that came to my mind was me taking the shower. Though I tried to fall asleep again, I couldn’t stop thinking about what was going to happen. So I decided to go to the bathroom and, for making the process “nicer”, played nice rhythmical music with my cellphone, then prepared my timer and waited for the beep to jump in!
    Guys, those 5 minutes were simply INCREDIBLE. I was freezing but also laughing and couldn’t stop smiling, thinking that it was insane. It felt so good. Right from the beginning I let the water fall directly to my back and head. Then the whole body, 5 minutes through.
    Alive, strong, capable and proud is how I’m feeling right now. And if this is how I will feel not only for the entire day, but for the next 29, it’s exactly what I’m looking for.
    Just get out of your comfort zone, take the first step and make the impossible possible. You won’t regret.

  2. Jose says

    Try taking a pot of boiling water and dumping on yourself in the shower. It’s an even better test of mental toughness. Continue 5 mins everyday for 30 days.

  3. Cynthia says

    So I was a about to go in the shower when I read about the CST, I read only a few of your posts and thought “why not?”
    Well, I did it. It was awesome. Thank you :) <- this is me after my cold shower

  4. says

    The first three weeks of my cold-shower therapy, I never went the full five minutes; sometimes I just stood on the edge of the cold water. Just fear, stupid fear. I’ve been doing this for a little bit over a month and I can see a mental, physical and spiritual change. The best side-effect is how honest my relationships have become. Now, whenever I start doubting a decision I jump in the cold shower. It sharpens my gut instincts. Now I tend to trust that instinct more than ever.

  5. Mel says

    I had to laugh when I read this. We bought out house a few years back with many oddities… including an electric water heater located OUTSIDE… that we found arcing and shorting in the rain… go figure. In the process of replumbing for gas, and installing a new water heater INSIDE (courtesy my husband, on a very limited budget), our family of six took cold showers every day for a month. We joked that we were preparing for the missions field. Result: I am hugely thankful for hot water, and even more aware and thankful of the luxury of running water. Best part: Knowing I can easily live through something uncomfortable. Bonus for the ladies: your skin and hair will be amazingly soft.

  6. says

    I’m a long haul truck driver by trade. Getting showers at all is a treat (sometimes I end up having to go a couple of days without one because of the timing involved in a load I’m delivering). But I’ve always liked nice warm showers, since they feel so nice for getting all the grime and grease off.

    Today, I went to our truck terminal to get a shower. I turned on the water, and no hot water came out. I tried turning it both directions, in case somebody had plumbed it wrong. Nope, NO HOT WATER. Here I am, feeling grimy and gross and desperately wanting a shower, and it’s ice ice cold. Like bucket of beer in ice type of cold. I whimpered a bit, and remembered how often you talk about CST. I have never had a desire to do the CST in the past, simply because I like my hot water and cold sounded soooo not fun. But here I was faced with the decision. I could go cold shower, or I could go dirty. Ugh.

    I chose the cold shower. It was freezing! I was hollering, “Shit-shit-shit-shit-shit-it’s-cold, gaaaaah!” the entire time. A lady came into the shower room and said that the water heater was out and wouldn’t be fixed until Friday. The shower combined with my chattering teeth was too loud for me to hear what all else she said, other than her laughter at my “Coooollld! Cold-cold!” response.

    But boy, I’m glad I took that shower! My skin was nice and pink after and my hair felt nice. I felt invigorated! I decided that I would try your 30 day challenge. I may not be able to do it every day, since I never know where I’m going to be from day to day on the truck. But the times I do get to shower, I’ll make it a cold one every time.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Joel!

    • Tolunay says

      Im on day 5, still havent had a shower today. I will have one in the next 30 mins.
      I started out with 5 mins , and now I am on 7 mins. Will keep it like that ;).
      The first 30 seconds are horrible, afterwards its not bad as people think.

      I hope I manage 30 days and keep with it, like my other 30-day goals and making a habit of them; 30 morning walk, 5 min cold shower, deep breathing 10 min every morning, tai chi, and wake up 6:30am and sleep at 12:30pm.

      These will change my life I guess since these are the most basic things.. also add 2-3 l of water a day. Next month will be about yoga, rehabing my whole body and reading 1 chapter a day. Also working out 1-2 a week.

      • Windy says

        I don’t know if I should say this, but you know, reading your comment really give me some inspiration 😀

  7. Richard says

    I hate you for making me doing this – this is day 24 and it’s just to awesome to stop. You knew that this would happen. Anyways, thanks for the inspiration!

  8. MGent says

    Challenge… Accepted!
    Had my first today after a short run. I feel that exercise be first, makes it easier.
    @ Joel, get a real shower head. The one you have puts out water like a squirt gun.

  9. Olivier says

    Once, in India, I took a cold shower… 😉

    Joke aside, today was my 12th cold shower in a row. The feeling is just great. It’s like: “wow, I’ve already done something special today, the day won’t be boring”!

    By curiosity, I put a thermometer under the water. Result: 15C (~60F). What’s yours?

  10. Dan says

    I curse the day I stumbled upon your website…

    Of course I would never state that “you made me take cold showers”, the plain and simple logic, benefits and challenge however had me hooked from the introduction all the way to the end of the article.

    I have been challenged, I cannot fail. Even worse: I’m hooked (as so many others, I learned by reading the comments on your site) to cold showers and take them twice a day.

    The minute of agony, followed by a minute (give or take) of discomfort consequently make room for what I call the “It’s just cold water” vibe and eventually, in my case around 10 minutes, turn into pleasure.

    I’m not sure if it makes me a masochist, adventurous or just nuts, as my wife says.

    Again, I curse the day I landed on your site, you got me hooked on cold showers!

    Keep evolving and challenging!

    • Dan says

      Wow, OK. So it’s been a few days short of a year now, and I’m still taking daily cold showers.

      Honestly: the habit takes the edge off, after a while you really know what’s coming. But still, the first few drops of cold water in the middle of winter, just when you got out of a warm bed…

      I’ve enjoyed the complete range of temperatures this year, from 21 degrees centigrade to a chilly 6 degrees Centigrade in the middle of winter.

      Time for another year of cold showers I guess!

  11. Robert Burgess says

    Everyday is a cold shower day for me, beats caffiene for waking you up and healthier im sure. Don’t see how we evolved with not washing in cold water!

  12. Alex says

    I’ve been taking cold showers for the last month or so and at this point my shower can’t get cold enough to give me that ‘shock’ that it did before – I imagine that will change come winter time. Are cold showers not as effective if I don’t get that ‘shock’? Also, I normally take showers at night (my hair is a pain in the ass to take care of in the morning), are cold morning showers better than cold night showers? Thanks in advance.

  13. Stephanie says

    Ok, I was so eager to try this because I have reached the end of my rope: my body temperature is so cold all the time. I will be wearing layers and layers and everyone else is in a t-shirt and shorts. So I googled “why am I so cold” and stumbled onto one comment that suggested taking a cold shower in the morning. Then I googled “cold shower” and came across this. I have to admit I don’t want to say that I hate the author, like he says many people will, and that he likes those comments, but I did take the advice of looking at the showerhead for a while. In fact, in preparation I did start to breathe heavily, decided to exercise for a few minutes instead, then finally got under cool water, positioning the faucet straight up the middle, and stepping in one foot at a time so that I was not “all in.” nevertheless I set my alarm for five minutes and made it and it was exhilarating, it was long, I had to act crazy and run in place a bit. When I got out I was ice cold until I got dried off. I also took the advice to think about a goal and I do believe it helped get me out of a couple ruts I have been in for a long time in my personal life. I read someone else say that they would make sure to plan the whole thirty days, possibly allowing for a couple of skip days and that seemed reasonable. Doing it today was one thing. Doing it tomorrow will be another. I will have to do it first thing in the morning tomorrow. No hitting the snooze button. It will probably make me want to exercise.

  14. Jess says

    Worked 21hrs today and had to stare at the shower for about 5 minutes before I could force myself into it. Day 13 and am embracing the suck like a boss!

  15. Rhonda says

    I started a 30 day cold shower challenge on September 1, 2013, my 39th birthday and finished yesterday.
    Some people cheered me on, some told me I was crazy and some just didn’t get it.
    I am famous for not finishing the things I start. I made a decision on my birthday that I wasn’t going to be like that anymore. I am so proud of myself for finishing this.
    What is next!!??

  16. Diana says

    Started the challenge today and am loving this already. Extremely invigorating-way better way to start the day than a hot one. The get-it-done feeling has lasted all day so far. Planning to see it through!

  17. says

    2-4 inches of snow fell the other day, another 2-4 inches are forecast tonight, and I haven’t touched my shower’s hot water faucet in over two weeks.

    My fingertips turn a little purple by the end of the shower the water is so cold.

    Are they going to fall off? No, they get cold when I ski, which I love. What is there to complain about? I feel great after. I’ve jumped out of planes and swum across big rivers and cold showers beat them.

    Cold showers build discipline, perspective, resilience, and calm.

    They cost zero, pollute less than a hot shower, take no extra time, have zero risk of injury, require no equipment, and invigorate you.

    If Joel doesn’t mind, here’s a link to my first write-up on it:

    If you’ve ever thought of doing some adrenaline-rush activity, save yourself time, money, energy, pollution, etc and take a month of cold showers.

  18. Jude Ignatious says

    This is my first time actually properly attempting to take a cold shower as a form of therapy. I couldn’t do it for longer than 30 seconds, did two 30 second sessions and it was well worth it. I gotta work up the tolerance, and try and incorporate it into a daily routine. Thank-you.

  19. Michael l says


    I have been doing cold showers for years and talking about it. People thought I was crazy. Thanks for putting out a video with exactly what I have been saying for years. Finally someone understands this! Besides the physical benefits there is a mental component that truly changes you. You can tackle anything.

  20. Elizabeth says

    The last eight years of my life have been one long cold shower that I’ve been avoiding. Now in the middle of the coldest weather DC has had in 25 years, and with a well for water which means it’s already a lot colder than people’s on city water, I read THIS. Not sure what I’ll do. Did you delete all the comments from the crybabies? Would CST truly help me? Why am I torturing myself thinking about this?

  21. says

    I tried the cold showers challenge some time ago (in summer) and after few days was surprised how natural and easy it became. I wanted to continue that indefinitely but things came up the other way and I came back to using hot water.
    A couple of days ago there was a problem with my water heater and no warm water was available. I didn’t even think about it. Because I KNEW that I CAN take the cold shower with no problem, I just showered as usual even though it is winter now.
    Just wanted to say thanks to make us push our limits and also check the article about excuses, as this is also an example of proving an excuse wrong (

  22. Alonso says

    Joel , you are a mother fucker crazy bastard!!!! …… But Yes! today is my second day of CST and i am so inspired , You’re right, I feel that this will change my life. I’m reading your blog and all your ideas are great, continue inspiring us, we need more people like you, you’re a great guy. Thanks for sharing this and hope to keep in touch. Get a hug. Alonso

  23. Concrete Pete says

    It´s my second day and i´m very amused by the outcome i have felt a huge change just in those 2 says. I put my alarm clock in the shower, wake up to turn it off and just let it rip so there is no room for my sleepy head to rationalise this decision, just a great fuck it moment.
    What i´m thinking of is that at my gym the showers have a preset heating so taking a the first shower is not optional but when i go later in the day is it alright to have a regular shower? Also i find it tremendous boost to begin my day with a cold shower but i get quite psyched up afterwards and mediation is also one of my morning routines so the cold shower quite interferes with my mediation is that something that will ease out in the long run and i will get used to it?
    Anyway´s thanks for this great advice, if this carries on it will be a live changing routine for me.

  24. KAPIL says

    Did my 1st CST today, felt awesom the whole day. Its kinda changes your mind and attitude. And yes the freshness lasted for complete day.
    Will be surely doing this for 30 days. Wish me Luck guys.

  25. Mark says

    I decided to start my CST this morning after downloading the app. Just my luck it snowed in Seattle last night. I turned on the shower and waited until it got really cold, turned on Black Cow from Steely Dan (5:11)…. I opened up the shower curtain and stared at the water for a good, well, five minutes. The initial feel was shock and a piercing, unrelenting uncomfortableness . After the first few seconds I thought I’d never make to 5 minutes but hung in there and while it never got even remotely comfortable, it got just a tiny bit easier to take towards the end. 20 minutes later I feel fantastic, ready to kick some ass. Only wish it was a work day. Thanks Joel. Only 29 to go!!

  26. Dave Lichtenstein says

    This was so cool. Haha pun intended. I totally used to be a pussy but after five whole minutes of cold water I felt like Mark Wahlburg in Pain and Gain. I can’t believe I did it. I stood in cold water for five whole minutes– EVERY DAY! Some people go to war, others base jump off of buildings in Dubai, others dive with sharks. Others just force themselves to be confident. I take cold showers. Hell yeah. I also feel really tough because I waste about 40 gallons of water in five minutes. Given the fact that this world is currently going through a fresh water epidemic, it’s almost like I’m indirectly killing people who can’t afford fresh water!

    God I feel so liberated! Cold water = boss status. I thought I’d lost my balls. Now I know I’ve got cojones, because I can feel them shrivel up and pop back up into my lower abdomen in this cold water!

    Ready for change?? Clean yourself in a kind of uncomfortable situation for a modest amount of time, then towl off and enjoy a pop tart! You deserved it. #Living

  27. Crt says

    Tried it in the evening for the first time. Now I can’t really say it was the real deal, cause I didn’t put the knob completely to the cold but it was still a bit uncomfortable. Especially when I showered my head, my mind started somehow panicking like I was going to drown standing up. But all in all it was a solid experience. I’m trying it again in the morning. I’m gonna go colder. 😉

  28. says

    I’ve done the cold water challenge as directed for 7 days straight from a book entitled “Flinch”. I just didn’t know it was such a big thing. A whole bunch of folks are doing the Cold Shower thing. This is fascinating. I definitely more cold showers than ever before now. In fact, I feel guilty when I don’t which is scary. It’s constant battle of what I’ll choose every time now which…pretty cool. The TED talk is dead on. And this guide is killer….just great stuff.

  29. Mariane Silveira says

    I thought about doing it when I started reading your blog, but I postponed it to… someday. Until this week. I’ve been taking cold showers (not in the morning, that I really can’t) for seven days now and I won’t stop. I confess I didn’t do it because of that post, the reason actually was because warm showers leave me with a dry skin. But that post influenced my decision too. It’s a good thing and saves money.

  30. Mariane Silveira says

    I just said I can’t do something… so I definitely should do it in the morning.
    I’m learning.
    I will do it for the first time tomorrow after waking up. This is gonna be hard.

  31. dottie says

    I already have to get over myself to have a shower at all(and no i dont shower everyday more like every week (yes call me names) I hate the whole act of taking a shower . I dont mind it in the public pools because they are not as pesky there but still . also i dont like hot showers either, i prefer mine to be luke warm. I did take cold showers where nothing else was ossible though.
    I prefer going into 16 degree pool everyday for 10 mintes rather than having a shower in cold water because thats really nasty.

  32. says

    I just finished a 3 months cold shower tour. I felt great and did wonders as did the website from Joel. I am deep in various projects and challenges and all thx to Joel.

    I did enjoy a hot bath yesterday after a long run, yet today I went straight back to a cold shower. Nothing better than to start your day!

    Can only highly recommend it to everyone.

  33. Orange says

    I just wanted to say that there are two cases where you shouldn’t do that: if your skin was burnt or if you have severe eczema, because really cold water will make your eczema worse or increase the burn (I happen to have both conditions and to have taken cold showers for 6 months, boy did my skin get worse…).
    But it’s a good willpower exercise anyway.

  34. HurleyJ says

    Been doing it for a while now and every day I’m apprehensive to start. I get in and start the shower and the timer and the first 30 seconds, the only thought is this water is too cold, I must quit and I’m thinking of reasons to turn the hot water knob on. I laugh a lot during the shower so my neighbors probably think I’m crazy. After the 3rd minute, I’m acclimating and the last minute is not bad at all. One funny thing is I have to wash my hair quickly because I get the ice cream headache/brain freeze which stops quickly after I remove my head from under the shower head. When all is said and done, I feel great and ready to take on the day. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a change of pace in their daily lives.

  35. Saskia says

    WOOHOOOO just finished my first cold shower blasting Till I Collapse! Funny enough I only started shivering 3 minutes after I got out.

    Thanks Joel, I’m a 17 year old dutch high school senior, procrastinating studying for my finals all the time so when I found your page yesterday I decided cold showers (and no more making up excuses) would become my new years resolution.

    To anyone reading this still doubting whether or not to do it: just do it.

  36. Collin says

    I just had my first cold shower (ice cold) today after years, and I LOVED IT! I haven’t felt this awake and alive in a long time, I just want to do it again and again haha.

    I hyperventilated for a few seconds but what ever it’s not scary and goes away as long as you chill.

    The thing I love about cold showers the most is the fact that all the stress and everything I feel every living second just went away. It distracts the mind so much that I forgot about everything and felt very present and alive for once (in a long time).

    Peace and thanks for all the material you put out!

  37. Keith says

    I started last night. I made the five minutes—probably just. I managed to survive, but I had a VERY hard time with my back. It got little cold love, but I figure that’s okay. It won’t escape for long…muah ha ha!


  1. […] Keep it cold. Use cold water to wash laundry instead of hot. Here’s another subject we could write a dissertation on, but we’ll keep it simple: Washing your laundry in hot water costs ~ $0.68 per load whereas washing it in cold water costs you ~ $0.04 per load. If you do laundry just twice per week, those cold-water washes will  save you more than $60 each year!  And for the extremely tight or adventurous consider Cold Shower Therapy! […]

  2. […] You’ll know what you need to cut down on. It’s very rare that the problem isn’t ‘knowing’ what to do; it’s more usually that you don’t want to. Or it’s ‘uncomfortable’ at first. If you’re still having issues with this after working through those questions honestly, send me an email and check out this article. […]

  3. […] That being said, you are the only person who can decide if taking a cold shower is the way to go for you. I think the best thing to do is transition from hot to cool to cold. And you might not want to take one for too long. This link should answer more questions you might have. […]

  4. […] Now this could be anything. It all depends on what kind of life you have right now. And the great thing is it doesn’t need to be huge to make a huge difference. Today I chose to cycle through central London despite the fact I’ve never done that before and don’t know how to drive so don’t have years of street smarts under my belt and then get a totally freezing cold shower when I returned home (it’s all the rage these days, read about cold shower therapy). […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *