Cold showers: Unexpected benefits !!!

Cold showers are not a new notion, and their popularity has been dropping in recent years after a lot of hoopla. To be honest, that’s probably because the hype made some very huge claims that were difficult to back up.

As a former Teeanime scientist and medical researcher, I quickly saw that the science on cold showers was implausible. Nonetheless, as an eager self-experimenter, it is one of the few habits that have lasted with me after dozens of experimentation with supplements, devices, exercises, and habits.

So, why go through with it if I don’t accept the science?

Because it produces outcomes for me.

First, consider the benefits based on the general collective.

The Purported Benefits of Cold Showers (and the Available Scientific Evidence)

1. Promotes fat loss

Cold exposure, according to the theory, stimulates Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT, or brown fat), prompting BAT to burn calories to generate heat. The specifics are touched on in this paper.

2. Alleviates depression

Cold exposure is thought to increase your mood via a number of mechanisms. According to this study, cold exposure activates the sympathetic nervous system and increases noradrenaline release in the brain. A “cold shower is believed to transfer an excessive number of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, possibly resulting in an antidepressant effect,” according to the same study. Another study revealed that taking cold showers reduced cortisol levels.

3. Improves immunity

Cold showers are said to enhance your metabolic rate, which leads to an increase in white blood cell production. White blood cells are your immune system’s workhorse. As a result, an increase in white blood cells protects against sickness. This study found a statistically significant reduction in self-reported sickness absence.

4. Promotes muscle recovery

Cold showers are said to alleviate inflammation by restricting blood vessels. This meta-analysis concluded that cold-water immersion delayed muscular soreness.

Other unproven benefits I’ve heard about include:

5. Improves skin and hair

Basically, showering in cold water is preferable to showering in hot water since hot water can be drying and irritate your skin.

6. Increases circulation

In order to keep your body temperature stable, the cold water may make your heart beat faster.

7. Improves sleep

People seem to sleep better when their bodies and the air around them are a little bit cooler. Taking a cold shower will obviously cool your body down.

8. Increases testosterone level

It seems that taking a cold shower lowers the temperature of the scrotum, which helps the body make the most sperm and testosterone.

How many of these benefits did I actually get? Well, I lost a little bit of weight, which is a big deal since I’m already pretty thin. Even though I wasn’t sad to begin with, I felt better. My hair and skin looked amazing (by my biased standards, of course). Overall, the benefits I expected were not that great, but the ones I didn’t expect were much better.

The Unexpected Benefits

So, why all the pain? I’m sure this is a question I’ve been asked more than once, so here’s the truth.

Because the way I feel when I take a cold shower is hard to get any other way.

We are constantly told that the best way to feel better is to take a pill, buy a gadget, or see a specialist. But a pill can’t make you more mentally present, and money can’t teach you to pay more attention to your body. There is something to be said for learning to listen to your body and giving your mind and body the space they need to self-balance.

I found out the following about cold showers:

1. It makes you feel like you can conquer the world (or at least your day)

Yes, that is a bold claim, and yes, I stand by it.

Here’s the thing. It’s difficult to want to get into a cold shower, let alone stay in it for 10 minutes. There is undoubtedly a natural aversion to it. But every time I take a 10-minute cold shower, I feel like I’ve subdued my own impulses and taken control. I get that tiny dopamine rush from finishing something – “Hey, if I can do this, I can do anything!”

What makes this so special?

Consider how much of our day and society is built on avoiding discomfort. This has the unintended consequence of making us easily agitated and lowering our emotional resilience.

In biology, there is a word called “eustress,” which literally translates as “good stress” that is helpful to the experiencer. Every type of growth necessitates eustress. Muscles need to be strained to get stronger, your immune system needs to be exposed to infections to become more resilient, and everyone needs a little suffering to become psychologically stronger. Finishing a cold shower is equivalent to starting your day with a dose of mental training every day.

2. It teaches you to tune in to your body and to be mentally present

With gadgets that can measure everything from heart rate to sleep to mood, most people have lost the ability to be in tune with themselves — to actually listen to their bodies and what they’re saying them in the absence of exportable data. When you’re in a cold shower, you’re highly aware of every physical sense. It’s as if your body is shouting “listen to me!” and you have no choice but to disregard everything else and focus. It is a quick approach to cleanse your mind and reconnect with your body.

3. It is meditative

A chilly shower is a good reminder of our bodies’ incredible ability to quickly adapt to our surroundings. You get to watch your body transition from stressed to peaceful and eventually enjoy the effects of the cold water. You can hear your inner monologue shift from “OMG, I want to get out — why has it only been a minute?!?” to “OK, halfway through, this ain’t so terrible” to “Ahhhhh, I can feel my muscles relaxing.” I’ve been meditating for years, and my non-shower sessions can still be hit or miss, but a cold shower always puts me in a good mood.

4. It is an amazing nootropic

Though not strictly a nootropic, the sensation following a 10-minute cold shower is like your brain has been electrified in the most delightful way. It’s like a burst of energy that wakes up your head. I’m not a morning person, and a cold shower early in the day makes me ten times more productive for the remainder of the day. And, yes, it is superior to coffee.

5. It is an instant mood-enhancer

I noted before that the studies on this was ambiguous, but nothing beats feeling it for yourself. I’m not sure why, but it simply makes me happy.

6. It improves your cold tolerance

I grew up in a tropical climate and have always believed that I have a hereditary proclivity to dislike the cold. Daily cold showers, on the other hand, have significantly strengthened my tolerance for frigid temperatures. This is consistent with a study that showed people’s habituation to cold water immersions with cold showers.

7. It reminds you that your emotions are not your reality

The odd thing about cold showers is that you always feel colder in the first minute than you do in the last.

Obviously, this sensation cannot be a realistic depiction of reality. You cannot have less body heat at the start than at the finish.

Cold baths remind me that powerful emotions can create a false reality and that I don’t have to react to every emotion I have. Though I immediately want to leave, I am reminded that if I can only stay with the feeling for a little longer, it will leave me. If your reality consists of everyone continually telling you what you need to do, it’s comforting to learn that doing nothing and letting things pass is also a viable option. Taking cold showers is simple. There is practically nothing you need to do.

Even after receiving the unexpected benefits of cold showers every day for more than a year, there are still days when getting into the shower is a struggle. Here are some helpful hints I discovered when those days arrived.

How to Take Cold Showers: Tips for Getting In and Staying In

1. Start and finish with warm water

It’s far easier to persuade yourself to take a warm shower than a cold one. It’s much easier to stay in once you’ve begun. Finishing with warm water offers you something to look forward to and helps to establish the habit. I usually do 30 seconds of warm water on either end.

2. Ease into it

A cold shower is one in which the water is less than 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) (though it really does feel better when you go colder than that). If you start with warm water, you can make it colder slowly, about every 10 seconds, until you reach your limit.

3. Pair it with something you enjoy doing

I like learning Spanish, and I found that it was much easier to get excited about learning Spanish than about taking a cold shower. So, instead of telling myself I was about to take a cold shower, I would tell myself I was about to learn Spanish. It also made the time go by more quickly.

4. End with something pleasurable

A study on colonoscopies showed that your brain doesn’t remember the feelings of an entire experience in the same way. Instead, the last part of an event has a bigger effect on you than the beginning.

By giving yourself a reward like a hot cup of coffee after a cold shower, you can reinforce the good habit a second time. I like having a small space heater nearby so I can enjoy a bit more heat when I get out.

5. Give yourself an out

Your regular workouts are like taking a cold shower. You don’t always want to start, but once you do, it’s easy to keep going. Take a three-minute break. Tell yourself that you can leave if you really want to after that time. Most likely, you’ll stay.

6. Five minutes is better than one

Friends who want to start taking cold showers often say that they will give it a try for one minute. That’s a terrible idea. It has all the pain but none of the mental peace that comes with it. Until the third minute, I usually feel pretty uncomfortable. After that, it’s actually pretty fun. So, if you can, make 5 minutes your goal.

7. Start with your face and neck

Most people don’t like putting their head under cold water. As soon as you’re done with that part of your body, everything else feels good.

8. Don’t eat a heavy meal before

Don’t eat a substantial meal beforehand Because your body struggles to multitask. One of the repercussions of being cold is that your body will try to circulate blood more quickly in order to regulate your body temperature. This is a positive development. Eating a substantial meal beforehand hinders good circulation since some blood flow is diverted to the digestive process.

The most shocking aspect of my cold shower practice is that my body now craves it. I believe that your body has an innate ability to heal and adjust itself. It will establish a natural feedback loop for items that benefit it. So, if you’re still struggling after a few days, realize that it will not only get easier, but your body will really begin to look forward to it.

Still not convinced?

I can’t say I blame you. I believe myself to be a pretty persuasive person, but when I tell others about my daily routine of taking a 10-minute cold shower, I am either with absolute bemusement or a visceral, unintended shudder.

While googling “cold showers,” the articles or videos that piqued my interest the most were those debunking the idea of cold showers. Two of the more interesting ones may be found here and here. Despite this, every single person in those stories advocated for cold showers, because it turns out that all of the things that the scientific experiments did not measure are true.

Don’t believe the notion that optimizing oneself necessitates cutting-edge technology, sophisticated supplements, or expensive professionals. In a world where many people think self-care means spending a lot of money at the spa, taking a cold shower is free, easy, environmentally friendly, and can be done anywhere.