Not so long ago, I heard about the potential benefits of Cold showers. So took this challenge to experience it on my own. I even found that it was improving my life in ways that I never expected.
Increasing my self-discipline.
For the first week it was very tempting to turn that hot tap at least a little bit. I was observing my mind making up a lot of excuses why a little bit of hot water wouldn’t hurt or be a big deal. My mind was trying to come up with strategies to cheat my way to a little bit of warmth. But not giving in to this little voice of excuses made me realise how we can silence it by just not quite giving in.
It feels like I have built some mental strength over this month which I hope I can transfer to other parts of my life. I never thought that I would feel that way about something as “simple” as the way in which I take a shower.
Over the course of the month I found that the cold showers helped me to think clearer in the morning. Of course it is well known that cold showers help to wake you up but at the start of this challenge it was more the “shock” of the cold that would wake me up.
After a week my body got used to this cold water and I noticed that my breathing changed. While at the start I was holding my breath unconsciously, over time I became aware of the difference in breathing while taking the shower, my breaths became deeper (from the stomach instead of the chest) which left me more awake and aware. This breathing is something that is promoted by Wim Hof the so called “iceman” and a big promoter of the cold. He sits in iceboats for hours at a time by just using breathing techniques to keep his body warm. His method is fascinating many people around the world including myself. It surely is something that I want to look into a bit more.
Some of the Research I touched upon earlier has proved that cold showers could improve mood and symptoms of depression. On a personal level, I found this very hard to measure, I did feel really good and my mood seemed to be elevated but with mood there are always so many factors? to be taken in consideration. It felt like a great part of my mood elevation came from the increase in self-discipline, it felt really good to know that I was silencing that little voice in my head.
Based on my experience, I would definitely recommend to take cold showers for a month whenever you are struggling with your own mood or depression. But of course talking to a professional about your struggles is very important too!
Improvement in blood circulation.
To be honest I don’t have the right apparatus to check this, all I can say is that at the start of the month my body felt cold for a longer time then towards the end. In the last week of this challenge I didn’t even feel cold at all during of after the shower. This could be a sign that my circulation improved and found better ways to keep me warm. Although that is just a speculation without any scientific measurements I do trust the research on this one.
Muscle recovery and weight loss
One of the biggest reasons I took this challenge on board was the scientific evidence regarding the release of Norepinephrine on your health and how your body reacts to stressful situations.
It felt like I would recover faster after a run and had significantly less muscle soreness after exercise.
Weightloss, I must say I was hoping for a little bit of extra weight loss this month but I think that my short exposure to the cold is not benefitting my fat as much as scientific research promotes when they talk about cold exposure. Normally these studies are conducted within an more extended?timeframe than my quick morning showers.
Maybe this is a sign I need to take my challenge to a new level? In my next cold immersion monthly challenge, I will try 30-60 minute icebaths and see if that will give stronger results.
Overall I must say I got to a point where I really enjoyed the cold showers and I will definitely keep taking them but also allow myself to enjoy a steamy warm shower and appreciate the fact that I have the freedom to make this choice even more.
Kiki Bosch is a nutritionist and biohacker from The Netherlands currently living in the UK. Kiki trials life improvements in three main fields – health, mind, and lifestyle. She uses science to make careful observations on her actions and their implications on her life and those around her.