How I take a (quick) cold shower every morning
Updated: Sep 4, 2019
You can read a lot these days about the benefits of taking a cold shower every day, or about how good for your health things like ice baths are.
The Ice Man, Wim Hof and his techniques for withstanding extreme cold are getting a lot of attention lately. He’s actually insane — he climbed Everest and Kilimanjaro in shorts and ran a marathon in the Namib desert without drinking any water. His premise more or less is a specific breathing technique that you can learn about on his website.
But generating enough ice on a daily basis for an ice bath — hell, I don’t even have a bathtub — or training to climb everest in just a pair of running shorts, is a little bit too time consuming and intense for me at this stage of my life.
But I do partake in the benefits of the cold shower, for about 10 seconds, every morning. You know the time it takes from when you turn the shower on, to when the hot water actually comes out? What do you do with all that water?
I live in Israel, which is in one of the most water-stressed regions on Earth. In Israel, every drop counts. Rather than wasting that first 10 seconds of cold water, I integrated it with some of my other goals like being mindful and present.
There’s nothing that wakes you up better than a blast of a cold water. And you can relax into the experience knowing in the back of your mind that it will end very shortly. It is a phenomenal opportunity to focus on your breathing.
The feeling of the cold water covering your whole body and then the extreme presence that you get from breathing and the sensation of the cold that you are now controlling can make you feel genuinely vibrant and alive. Then you get a blast of hot water and the warmth and relief is incredible.
I don’t have enough knowledge to comment on the health benefits, but the controlled breathing, mindfulness, and knowledge that I’m using water that would otherwise be wasted is why I love this part of my morning routine.
The other aspect to this is the fact that you really, really don’t want to do it, especially in those cold winter months. Our days are filled with tons of things that at first we don’t want to do but, to borrow from Ray Dalio’s book Principles, have higher order consequences that are very beneficial.
Exercise is a great example. Especially if it is one of the first things you do with your day. I often do not want to work out in the morning. But I push through because I know that afterwards I’m going to feel physically fantastic and mentally as if I’ve accomplished something. Jocko Willink is a big advocate for working out first thing in the morning for these very reasons.
This shower habit is the same thing, and I’m not even advocating for a whole cold shower! Just a cold 10–15 seconds. It still sucks to do. But because it sucks, I do it, and I feel great after the mindfulness and sense of accomplishment. The day is filled with stuff that we don’t want to do at first but know that we will feel happy or accomplished after doing. Whether it’s that errand you’ve been putting off for weeks or that tough phone call you need to make, just grit your teeth, do it, and feel great afterwards.
For all my friends living in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is a great time to start easing into this and turning it into a habit. Give it a try the next time you take a shower and let me know in the comments how it worked for you.
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