Every time I call people out on their excuses for not at least TRYING cold showers, I get this response from someone:
“I don’t know why you think cold showers are such a big deal. I’ve taken cold showers before.”
“Oh, really? Tell me about it!”
I get one of three responses to this.
“I mean, my hot water heater broke one time and I had to take a cold shower.”
“This one time on a mission trip in India, we didn’t have hot showers for, like, two days.”
“I’ve taken ice baths before when I’ve been injured, so that’s the same thing.”
No, it’s not.
Those don’t count. I’m sorry, but I’m not really sorry.
See, the key thing about Cold Shower Therapy™ is choosing the more uncomfortable option.
If your heater broke, you had to take a cold shower. If you’re in the middle of Mexico, you’ll find that they simply don’t have hot water. If you’re taking ice baths because your trainer told you they would help you recover (they’d be right), you don’t have another option.
In other words, the key ingredient here is choice.
It’s not about being manly. It’s not about beating your chest. It’s not even about how cold the cold water is.
It’s about choosing to be uncomfortable, even when there’s an easier option. It’s about choosing to be uncomfortable especially when it’s not the only option you’ve got.
Because when you go from resenting the cold and showering in it because it’s your only option (besides smelling terribly for the next week) to embracing the suck, leaning into it, and even enjoying it, that’s when you start to change.
So, if you’ve taken a cold shower before because it was your only option, do it again. This time make it your choice.
Get back in the shower, turn it to cold, and embrace it. Five minutes. Go.
The Official CST App
Photo credit: tomswift46 (Hi Res Images for Sale)
Mike Hrostoski says
Ooh, love this.
Yes, cold shower therapy is about the CHOICE to do something hard. CONSCIOUSLY choosing the path of growth. Great callout.
George W Dixon says
Good metaphor. Choice is the most powerful part of being human…and the most dangerous. The human will can choose wrongly, conveniently missing the mark of the best. The old cliche of missing the best by just choosing the good might apply here. We humans don’t like inconvenience and comfort. We think we have the right to just what is easy. Discipline is outdated to many. Guilty here. Thanks for the reminder to make the effort to choose the uncomfortable…a good training ground for the other choices to follow.
I was about to back out of the Spartan Beast in August when I read this. I’m in. Thank you for always inspiring me to live my life, icy cold showers and all. No regrets. (I’m Team Dirty Girls on Twitter BTW, and just posted this to my page)
I’ve been taking cold showers for a few weeks now and having just read this I’m not sure I’m doing it right.
I have switched off my water heater so I have no hot water then If I want a hot shower I have to switch it on and wait 30 minutes for the water to heat up I see that as choosing Is that right ?
Joel Runyon says
You’re perfect Morag 🙂
Well. I don’t have to tell you how I feel about cold shower therapy. Every single Morning. For almost 400 days now. And last night, after a rather intense spin class…cold shower was the only thing that was going to keep me from passing out. So. I didn’t even hesitate.
Yah. I don’t have to tell you how I feel about cold shower therapy.
I agree, there’s a great difference between having to choose something among many options because it’s something you’re picking out of your own volition. In that case it will mean something to you. You tend to value it more therefore you take it more seriously, because you are keen to get all the benefits. It becomes your special thing! And that’s how it worked for me!
I started in March of this year and have taken cold showers every single day. I hate it before I lunge into the cold water, every day even now after more than 90 days. I give a big shout and lunge in, then force myself to do some exercise while under the cold shower. Always feel great after the shower. I do it because I have seen some great benefits – my muscles seem to get stronger on back and shoulders (a reaction perhaps), my doctor said a blood test showed unusually high red blood cells (wonder if that is because my blood is adjusting, or due in addition to my running regimen) and great libido. Going into a warm shower now would feel like a betrayal of what I am discovering.
Juck Kilograms says
I took cold showers for a month, not doing any more than 50 seconds at a stretch. Then one day, I stepped in for a cold shower and I stayed there for more than 8 minutes.
I hate cold showers – had too many of them in the Armed Forces – in icy winter, with the wind blowing through all the uncovered showers as well. But – I had no other option, no choice. I’d say give me a hot shower any day, mate! But (another”but”) – I’ll do it. I got this info (I live in Papua New Guinea – on a remote island) from my brother-in-law in Johannesburg, South Arica. So – cold shower: Here I come, by choice, hmmm, no,no, I’ll do it! I’ll post the fact here, just in case somebody read my comment.
I read your first article on cold showers, and thought you were just missing a little of the real world, thinking people didn’t take cold showers relatively regularly. Growing up where it was miserably hot and humid, cold showers were amazing. And then I joined the armed forces, and cold showers, well, you either showered in cold water or not at all. Ya it sucked, but it was better than smelling terrible. So, I didn’t get it. This article gives me a better understanding of what you are getting at. I suppose a lot of my life I have voluntarily been uncomfortable, so it was a little hard to wrap my head around why you would turn the most comfortable part of the day into something reminiscent of a deployment. This should maybe be the second link on your “Cold Shower Therapy Guide” page instead of the 10th, just for those of us who might think you are a little spoiled if you think cold showers are hard core.
Um. So, it’s winter in Minnesota and we have our own well; our cold water runs just under 40 degrees Farenheit. I’m also prone to hypothermia – I can only float down the river on sunny, hot days in summer.
That said, I set my timer for 6 minutes and jumped into a lukewarm shower, then over the next thirty seconds turned the temperature down to almost full cold; I was shivering with ash-colored hands and purple fingertips and toes at a minute and a half. Still not sure how I manged to stick it out the full amount of time. I was just wondering if the way I’m doing it is cheating.
Joel Runyon says
Try to go as cold as your shower goes 🙂 Push the limit.
That’s what I intend – mostly just to see if I can. That which does not kill you…
I know this is late… But I’d only suggest a word of caution for Ellen. Your skin reaction sorta sounds like Raynaud’s Syndrome. If that’s the case, I’d double check with a doctor b4 goin full out.
Ellen, something tells me that you’re not gonna die from taking a cold shower. I mean, I *could* be wrong. Just picture the headline:
“WOMAN, FORTY FIVE, DIES OF HYPOTHERMIA WHILE TAKING A CHILL SHOWER. RELATIVES CLAIM SHE WAS “PUSHING HER HUMAN LIMITS””
Yeah, I mean, it could happen..
Stay safe out there, Ellen. It’s a wild, wild world…
just about to finish 400 days of most times twice a day cold water showers!! always a challenge but worth the victory when stepping out..Winter showers water temp high 30s cold!!!
I just started few days back Apr12th
After seeing many Wim Hop videos.
Living in south Brazil, at winter can be 5 Celsius but average is 10.
Now is autumn here and temperature is about 15 Celsius.
17 days taking “medium” cold showers by I plan not stop anymore.
Thanks for great content of Cold baths therapy.