- Ishaan Marwaha
The Life-Changing Abilities of Cold Showers
Updated: Nov 12, 2022
Written by: Ishaan Marwaha
From a young age, I have always looked to create a daily routine which provided the maximum benefits for my health and efficiency. . At age 7 I learned that I needed to organize my work if I wanted to be productive. Age 9 taught me to eat healthier foods to maintain my energy throughout the day. And when I was 12 I realized that training and exercising every day was a good way to keep my body fit and awake throughout the day. Just recently, cold showers have become my new craze. It started when I first looked at the Wim Hof method. Wim Hof is a Dutch extreme athlete who has trained his body to withstand the utmost of cold conditions. A few records that he is accredited for fastest marathon barefoot on ice, farthest swim under ice, and longest time in full-body ice. Wim Hof performed experiments on his body to test the limits of a human both mentally and physically. His cold and hard nature developed his nickname the “Iceman”. The secret behind these superhuman powers was that Wim Hof had controlled his breathing, heart rate, and blood circulation to resist the extreme cold. Wim believed that the inner potential that he had tapped into could be accessed by everyone. The Wim Hof methods consist of breathing exercises and exposure to cold temperatures to expose the human body to feelings normally outside of its comfort zone. These teachings became widespread and now many follow them. Cold showers, while not as exorbitant as an ice bath, still allow for increased energy levels, a boosted immune system, and decreased stress levels. According to the National Library of Medicine, “Exposure to cold is known to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline and to increase synaptic release of noradrenaline in the brain as well. Additionally, due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower is expected to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect.” This evidence was extracted from an experiment which analyzed two contrasting lifestyles. One of which lacked the physiological stressors experienced through changes in body temperature and the other experienced those conditions more than the average person. It was concluded that the latter option produced an antidepressant effect through the high amount of electrical impulses sent between the brain and the peripheral nerve endings.
My experience: Around 6 months ago I first came upon Wim’s method. I had been taking warm showers prior and had never considered changing. After seeing his practice, I decided to try something more doable; cold showers. My main reason had been to step out of my comfort zone and the boredom of quarantine also contributed to my decision. On the first day of my new endeavor, I completely chickened out. As soon as I felt the water I ran like the wind. The next day I decided to suck it up and attempt to stay in for 20 seconds. When I stepped into the freezing water my breathing became heavy and quick. I later found out that this was completely normal. This was supposed to be the adrenaline and energy that the shower had brought along. When I got out I felt pretty good. Somehow more alive than normal. Throughout the day I wasn't tired despite the minimal amount of sleep I had received the previous night. I also felt happier than normal. The next day I repeated the same time in the shower. That whole week was a continuous process of overcoming my common sense to step into the freezing cold. This is another benefit of cold showers. Willing your body to do something you don't want to do builds your self-discipline ultimately preparing you for more internal battles in the future. The following week, I attempted 40 seconds in the cold shower. In 20-second intervals, I slowly built up my stamina and currently shower for 2 minutes and 20 seconds daily. From this experience, I have determined that cold showers are not really about cold water. It is about figuring out how resilient your body and mind are to the limits you set for yourself. Realizing that the only justification for one’s fright is the unwillingness to confront their frights is my main takeaway. So for those of you who seek an improvement in your mental and physical well-being, try out cold showers, and make lasting advances to becoming a better human being.