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  • Writer's pictureJesse Harless

Supercharge Your Self-Care Routine With A Cold Shower

Photo by Joshua Earle

As the uncertainty of Covid-19 increases, so does our anxiety. For some of us, this experience is all too familiar.

Several years ago, during my recovery from opioid addiction, I was locked in a constant battle with anxiety. When I didn’t have it, I was joyous, free, and content. When I did have it, I was separated, lost, and confused. To be honest, I didn’t have anxiety; anxiety had me. My seven-year habit of two Red Bulls a day didn’t help. I would have given anything for relief.

One day, a recovery friend of mine told me I needed to start taking cold showers. My first reaction was, “What? It’s December. No way.” (Did I mention I live in New Hampshire?) Almost as a dare, I decided to try it: I turned on the cold water full force, which literally took my breath away. A few minutes later, I emerged from the shower bright red, thinking I’d never do that again. Two hours later, I was attending a meeting where I typically experienced a lot of anxiety. Strangely, I wasn’t anxious at all. Now I was intrigued.

I started a 30-day trial of daily cold showers, and within just a few days, I noticed a consistent reduction in my anxiety symptoms. After thirty days, the light bulb went off: now that the cold showers had largely removed my anxiety, I was ready to let go of other unhelpful things in my life, including my final crutch, caffeine. I decided to continue. By the 90-day mark, I felt like a resilient warrior. Even though anxiety was now just an afterthought, I did not stop the practice.

 Five years later, I still take my showers cold. It charges up my inner battery and improves my mood. I am more productive, confident, and alert during the day. And the newfound confidence I gained from a daily cold shower enabled me to quit caffeine completely. 

 But do cold showers really work for others? To find out, I recently created my own 22-day cold shower challenge, and here are just a few responses:

Harriet: I’ve taken a daily cold shower or cold bath since July 2019, and it calms me down, reduces chronic anxiety, improves depression, gives me nice skin, and has helped regulate/reduce some daily hot sweats, or hot flashes. 

 Vicky: I like the energy boost I get. Great start to the morning at 4 A.M.

 Russell: ‪I take cold showers because I feel great after and it reduces any anxiety and stress that I am feeling.

Turid: ‪I took a 10-minute cold shower this morning, and at 2 pm, I am still reaping the benefits: mental focus, energy levels through the roof, and general well-being. A cold shower simply puts a smile on my face every day!

Denish: Day 17 done. The benefits of cold showers are

‪1. Self-discipline

2. Mental toughness

‪3. Energy

Cold showers are a natural healing remedy and positive stressor. Hundreds of people have testified to the power of the cold shower, which has been awe-inspiring and motivating to witness. Now people are using cold showers through the Covid-19 lockdown to empower themselves and stay focused. I refuse to let quarantine, or any other obstacle, get in the way of feeling my best. Yes, cold showers help me be at my best and I encourage you to give it a try.

With the potential increase in mental health issues in the coming months, finding positive health practices are critical. After taking 1500 days of cold showers, they still work for me. But by no means am I saying that cold showers are for everyone or the cure all. Cold showers are difficult for most people. This is why I recommend you not do what I did, and instead begin your cold showers gradually.

Try This:

Start with a warm shower as usual and proceed with your normal cleaning routine. When you’ve finished your routine, turn the water to colder than normal. See? That wasn’t so difficult! Each day, continue to increase the coldness level and length of your cold shower over the next 7 days. Work your way up to 1-2 minutes of cold-water immersion in the shower.  

During these unprecedented times, boosting your immune system and practicing radical self-care has never been more important. Sitting at a computer screen all day is mentally exhausting. Before you jump on the computer today, take your first cold shower. When challenges arrive, you will be happy you started this practice. Combining cold showers with other healthy practices such as getting sunlight, meditation, plant-based whole foods, and exercise will help carry you through this and any other challenging time period.

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