Why do some people take cold showers?

on February 09, 2021

Struggling with energy, willpower and procrastination? Start by having a cold shower in the morning.

I’ve come to realize that the internet is full of articles about the benefits of having a cold shower in the morning.

They’re telling us that it helps with depression, your skin & hair and even weight loss? Really?!

Well, I’m sure there are better ways to lose weight and let’s focus on the real benefits.

My Experience

I first heard about the benefits of having cold showers in September 2018 when I attended a 3-day Tony Robbins event in Australia.

Since then, it has become part of my daily morning routine. It sounds weird, but I actually look forward to it.

I even have a cold shower every time I exercise.

And the greatest thing is that it’s N.E.T. No extra time required as I shower every morning anyway.

Fair to say it’s one of the best habits I’ve ever adopted because of fundamental things: Energy, Health & Willpower

1 // Energy: Cold showers increase your Energy levels

Energy is probably the most obvious one: A cold shower in the morning wakes me up immediately and give me strength for the day to get stuff done.

How does that work?

When you step under the cold water, you will experience a deep breathing reflex (like a gasp) as an automatic response from your body to the quick drop in temperature.

The breathing helps our body to stay warm by producing white blood cells and pumping blood to all of our vital organs (to protect them from the cold).

This flow of “fresh” blood will not only wake you up instantly by also boost your energy and alertness levels.

2 // Health: Cold showers improve your immune system

By having a cold shower, you’re actually becoming more tolerant to illnesses.

This happens via a strengthening immune system and is based on two key factors:

  • Increase in white blood cells, and
  • Increase in Glutathione

White blood cells are super important for our immune systems, and they search the blood for different viruses, bacteria and fungi (invaders).

When any of the these enter your blood, white blood cells help to discover and kill these invaders before they can cause any damage.

Also, cold showers increase our glutathione levels.

Glutathione is an antioxidant that is supporting the immune system to do its job by fighting infections.

A Dutch study from 2016 with almost 3,000 participants that had a daily cold shower of at least 30sec over 90 days showed a 29% reduction in required sick leave from work.

3 // Cold showers increase your willpower and help you overcome procrastination

In my view, this is one gives you the biggest bang for your buck. Well, your action!

Let me be clear – no one gets up and says “Yay, I can’t wait to jump into a cold shower”.

Which is interesting, because (as you now know) it increases your health and energy levels.

So despite the benefits, why is so hard to turn the warm water off and jump into a cold shower?

Because it’s bloody cold. And it’s uncomfortable.

In short, it takes a strong mind and willpower to step under cold water and tolerate it even for a few minutes.

However, by having a cold shower regularly, it will program your brain that you can take on things that make you uncomfortable.

Hence, it will encourage similar behavior for other actions and build resilience for other things in life that are good for you.

So next time you have to make a decision on doing something good for you that is hard and uncomfortable (e.g. going to the gym), it will get easier to follow through and go for it.

How to get started

I’d recommend to ease into cold showering slowly. This is how I first got started:

1. Start with a warm shower

Start with your regular shower temperature where you apply body wash and wash your hair.

2. Reduce warm water

You can then slowly turn off the hot water tap until the water becomes cooler (go cold turkey if you like)

3. Start with your limbs

Once you’ve reached your desired temperature, expose one limp after the other to the cold water.

Right leg, left leg, right arm, left arm…that way you’ll reduce the shock response from your body and can ease into the temperature difference.

4. Go all in

Now expose your back and chest followed by your head.

Stay under the water for ~30 seconds as a starting point and extend until 2minutes once you’re used to it.

Let me know you how you go with it and whether you experience any changes around your energy levels, your sick days and your willpower.