Do you want to feel alive every time you’re taking a shower? Read this blog post to learn more about the benefits of taking a cold shower. Do you dare?
I’m writing this blog post from Lapland, where I’m on a winter holiday with my parents and sister. In the northern part of Finland, we are enjoying the snow and beautiful scenery with activities like a husky safari, reindeer ride, and ice-fishing.
Finland has a population of 5,5 million and over 3 million saunas – an average of one per household. The sauna is a place for physical and mental relaxation, but when the heat is getting uncomfortable it is common to jump into a cold lake or pool. During the winter, people dip into a hole of a frozen lake or roll in the snow to cool down before quickly getting back in the sauna.
Our cabin has a sauna as well, so I obviously had to experience the Finnish tradition. After around fifteen minutes of 80 degrees Celsius (176°F), I went outside into -20 degrees Celsius (-4°F). Being outside in my swimming shorts was surprisingly easy and didn’t feel cold at all, but this abruptly changed when I jumped into the snow. When my body touched the snow, it instantly felt like I was freezing and burning at the same time while the adrenaline rushed through my body. A minute later, when I was back in the sauna, my body was still glowing but I felt reborn.
This snow-rolling exercise is quite extreme, but there is a simpler and slightly less radical approach to partly experience this feeling. It’s a daily habit of mine that I recommend to everyone: Every morning after my morning work-out, I turn the shower to the lowest temperature possible for the last 10 seconds.
The first question that probably comes to mind is: WHY? Why the hell would you end a nice shower with ten seconds of suffering? Well, it improves our blood circulation, helps to speed up muscle recovery, and improves the immune system. A study by Professor Vijay Kakkar shows that cold showers stimulate the production of immune cells that help fight flu and the common cold. Some sources even state that cold showers burn fat and kill certain type of cancer cells, but research on those is very limited. It would be great if this is true, but if nothing else; the cold water is good for your skin and hair ;-).
Another benefit of taking a cold shower is increased willpower. I must admit that this one is not based on scientific research, but from my personal experience and anecdotes of others. If you think of willpower as a muscle, then you can train this muscle by taking a cold shower. When you turn on the cold water, you do something that you know is good for you but that you don’t really want to do at the same time. Training willpower like this can help you to avoid procrastination in other areas of your life.
So we looked at health-related benefits and increased willpower, but personally, the main reason for me to take a cold shower every morning is that I actually enjoy it. It gives me an adrenaline boost that makes me feel like I can take over the world. The increased heart rate releases a rush of blood throughout the entire body, making me feel more alive than ever.
A cold ending of your shower may not be something you’re looking forward to, but it only takes a few seconds and you will feel better afterwards. Then when you get used to this Godzilla feeling, you will automatically start enjoying it more. For me it has become the favorite part of my shower.
Give it a go if you also want to feel alive every time you’re taking a shower.