Why I Take Cold Showers

Why I take cold showersI’ve always been “warm blooded.” More bluntly, I am always hot. Even as a baby. My mom tells a story about how I would go crazy in a onesie because I was too hot. I would try to rip it off my feet. It’s no surprise I would like to take showers to cool me off. But over time, I’ve developed another reason for cold showers: Self-discipline. It may be a mental trick I am playing on myself, but I think forcing myself to take a cold shower each day has helped my self-discipline.

Before I started taking cold showers, I would take “normal” showers like most Americans. (“Let me bathe daily in instantly hot water.”) But a hot shower is a bad way to start your day if you run hot. Especially when I lived in DC where the combination of humidity and suits is already disastrous. I would start my day flustered because I was hot from the inside out. So I started taking cold showers, or at least ending my shower with cold water and then letting the water evaporate naturally instead of using a towel. (pro tip: stand in front of a fan and expedite the evaporation.) Then I read the Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. I will skip the various tested reasons provided by Ferriss for taking cold baths or showers, but suffice to say they include better sleep, fat loss, and more.

But I discovered recently another reason for cold showers. I noticed it only as summer waned and the need for a cold shower to cool off became less necessary. The cold showers became routine, but I found myself less and less eager to jump into cold water. I force myself to take the cold shower. At first, I did it for the benefit of waking up fast in the morning, or to cool myself off before bed.

However, during the last few weeks I noticed that these cold showers have another impact, at least for me. I find my discipline just that much stronger. I’m not saying that I can hold my hand over a flame, or anything superhuman. It was small, daily decisions that I found were improved: the healthy side salad instead of fries; the immediate task completed instead of procrastinating. The more I forced myself to take a cold shower, the easier some of the other decisions later in the day. I’m not sure if the cold shower is the reason for this effect, but it seems that it is a daily habit I have instituted, often times against my own will. I will leave science/psychology to discern if that is the real reason. Even if the cold showers are not impacting my self-discipline, I plan to continue this habit. It helps wake me up and I feel great afterwards. And that alone is worth it.

Other people may have different routines to do the same thing. But for me the cold shower is a daily task to complete that has ancillary benefits besides the self-discipline imposed upon myself. Perhaps that’s why it is so great. It is not self-discipline for its own sake. There are other benefits for me, and the self-discipline is just a by-product. Either way, I plan to continue with cold showers. Who knows, a few months from now maybe I will find myself with my hand over a flame.

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