If you’ve been reading this site for awhile, you know that I am a big proponent of cold showers. I recommend it to all my friends and family as an immune system booster and personally shower with cold water 3-4 times a week. But cold showers are definitely not the best feeling in the world and many people don’t take them because it’s not comfortable freezing. In this article, I want to help you with your cold showers so it becomes easier and more bearable to take.
The Things You Need to Know About Cold Showers
Cold showers expose the body to a form of minor stress that induces thermogensis (generation of body heat), turning on the body’s repair systems to strengthen the body’s immunity, improving mood, and enhancing mental and physical grit. One study showed that exposure to cold water provides similar biophysiological responses as high intensity interval training, including but not limited to accelerated fat loss, reduced fatigue, increased attention, increased testosterone in men, and increased insulin sensitivity.
So how cold is cold? To get the full benefits of cold showers, the water should typically be around 10 degrees Celsius, or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are just starting out though, I think it might be okay to start out at 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) and then gradually work your way down. So a typical water heater is 48.88 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit), so 10 degrees Celsius would mean turning the shower handle 1/5 of the way to maximum and 15 degrees Celsius would mean turning the handle 1/4 of the way to maximum. But remember, you want to be closer to 10 degrees Celsius than 15 degrees.
How long should your cold shower be? Although I can’t seem to find studies that have a minimum threshold to meet in order to be effective, researchers have set parameters around 5 to 10 minutes in their studies. So if you want to take cold showers, aim for at least 5 minutes.
How to Make Taking Cold Showers Bearable
To really get all the benefits of a cold shower, it is important to fully immerse yourself in the shower. Do not just put one part of your body in (like an arm), put your whole body in it like you would with a nice and comfortable hot shower.
The most important part of taking cold showers is learning how to breathe deeply and slowly. There is a meditative element to breathing that takes your concentration away from the cold and the showers become a lot more bearable. The breathing method I like to use is the 4×4 method. It is a method used by mentally tough Navy SEALs to get through their grueling 6-month training. It is also used in some yoga studios as well. What you do is you breathe in deeply for 4 seconds, and then you breathe out for 4 seconds. It’s as simple as that. Deep breathing actives the parasympathetic nervous system which lowers your blood pressure, improves your mood, and boosts your immune system. Additionally, actively concentrating on your breath takes the brain’s concentration off of the coldness so you do not pay attention to how cold you are.
One thing I like to do is to face forward during the cold shower and leave my whole head underneath the showerhead. It feels like drowning. When I started doing it, my fight-or-flight response kicked in and I was breathing pretty rapidly. But the exaggerated breathing was what made me realize the importance of taking deep breathes. By taking deep breathes with my head under the showerhead, I was controlling my body’s stress/fight-or-flight response. I was actively telling my body to calm down. This is an extremely neat tool that I now apply everywhere, even outside of the shower. If I am stressed, I tell myself to take deep breathes for a couple of minutes.