3 lessons I learned during my 30 day Ice Shower Challenge
Today is Day 30.
I wanted to test my mental capabilities and wake myself up from my foggy morning routine – so I put my shower temperature on 100% cold for 30 days.
And I have emerged victorious!
31 days ago, on a whim, I decided to partake after reading about the challenge online. Over the course of the last 30 days of this self-imposed challenge I have transformed from a panicky drowning cat to total Zen master whenever I step into the icy water. I still feel that initial rush, but now my body and mind remain perfectly calm.
Surprisingly, the simple act of changing the temperature setting of my morning showers has been a major learning experience for me. Looking back at the last month, three key lessons I’ve picked up are:
1. I am mentally stronger than I thought
There were many mornings when the last thing I wanted to do was take a cold shower. Even though it has been “peak summer” in the Netherlands, it never got that warm. So for most of the past 30 days I would wake up to a cool apartment, walk on cold bathroom tiles, and stand naked in front my shower getting ready to jump into even colder water.
On many occasions I would try and convince myself that I HAD to take a hot shower, because forgoing such a luxury would be a slap in the face to all of my ancestors who worked so hard to attain such modern conveniences.
But I never did it. I reminded myself why I signed up for this challenge and bucked up.
Looking back, I’m happy I didn’t take the easy way out. It shows that if I put my mind to something I WILL follow through.
2. Cold water feels better than hot water – AFTERWARDS
Yes, hot water feels great when you’re actually in the shower. But as soon as you step out, it’s just “meh”. In fact, you’re often more relaxed and groggy than when you stepped in.
With cold water you are 100% alert within a fraction of a second and, as I described here, you can feel energized FOR HOURS.
I do have a small confession though. During the challenge I was on a business trip for 5 days and one evening, because I don’t have a bathtub at home, I decided to take a warm bath in my hotel room.
I DID finish it off with a cold shower afterwards, but I immediately noticed the difference that the warm bathwater had on my body. My skin felt dry, itchy, and just unpleasant in general. Cold showers, on the other hand, have made my skin feel refreshed and healthy, a byproduct of retaining the skin’s natural oils. As I said earlier, I had already noticed a huge difference after just a few days.
3. Staying in the moment is the best way to start the day
When icy water is streaming onto you and you feel like Jack Dawson after the Titanic went down (thanks for hogging the door Rose), it’s basically impossible to think about anything else besides how your body feels in that moment.
The cool thing though is that this kind of awareness stays with you throughout the day. Instead of my mind wandering as I ate breakfast, I would find myself asking:
What kind of mood am I in today?
How do I feel physically?
What am I grateful for right now?
This self-awareness would stay with me at my job, helping me to be more focused on my work and the tasks at hand.
From someone who spent many of his formative years living in Texas and California I know that cold water is NOT for everybody. You could even argue that torturing yourself with it every morning is an insult to great great Nana who grew up without indoor plumbing.
I’m glad I followed through with the challenge though. Besides the surprising benefits I’ve also learned that I have the mental toughness within me to get through difficult times.
Maybe I’ll even sign myself up for something crazy again.