Notes on a week of cold showers

For the past week I’ve taken cold showers. Cold as in icy, as-cold-as-the-tap-allows cold. Mountain snowmelt cold.

I got interested in experimenting with cold showers for a few reasons. Bathing or swimming in cold water is known to have a number of beneficial health effects, including improved circulation and high white blood cell count. I’m prone to dry skin in the winter, and cold water is supposed not to dry the skin out as much. I’m interested in all things primal; recognizing that humans are but newly domesticated from an evolutionary perspective, selectively reverting to the hunter/gatherer practices we are still largely adapted to can sometimes have unexpected benefits. And then there’s the undeniable machismo factor; I want to know that I can take icy showers if the situation demands.

It does get easier over time. The throat-constricting drowning reflex abates after the first couple of showers, as does the subsequent heavy breathing period. I still puff and blow a lot as I’m getting acclimated, but I’m no longer getting faint and dizzy from hyperventilation.

Mountain man showers are easier than James Bond showers. I found that it’s easier to get acclimated if the shower starts out cold, than if it starts hot and gradually get colder. Of course, some would probably say that the hot/cold contrast is the whole point, and exercises the circulatory system more effectively.

I’ve also been using very little soap, reserving it for my feet and certain other less mentionable areas. No shampoo either, just conditioner. I’m trying to avoid anything that will remove my natural oils, out of curiousity to see how my skin and hair fare without being stripped of their natural protection daily. So far so good; I’m not suffering from too much dryness, and my hair seems sleek and glossy. On the all-important question of smell, Stacey reports that I stink no worse than usual.

Washcloths hurt in cold water; I’ve just been using my hands to scrub.

It’s surprising just how fast my body acclimatizes. Within 30 seconds of entering the shower I’m no longer shocked by the cold. It never becomes comfortable, but it becomes bearable pretty quickly. Keeping moving helps a lot. Also, keeping at least one part of my body in the stream at all times helps to stay acclimatized.

Cold showers make it much easier to get out of the shower quickly. I’m prone to becoming lost in thought under the warm stream and daudling for 20 minutes or more. In the past week I’d estimate my showers have taken 3-5 minutes.

The invigorating effect reported by other cold bathers is real. I come out of cold showers not just awake, but energized. The effect lasts an hour or more.

Besides the energizing effect, there’s also the psychological boost of having done something badass. As in “I just took an ice-cold shower in the middle of winter! I think I’ll go punch a shark in the nose!”

Cold showers will lower your core temperature, so caution is in order. I’ve come out of the shower with a temperature as low as 93.3F, which is technically in the mild hypothermia zone. I was back within normal parameters within 20 minutes, however.

A man’s got to know his limitations, and I don’t know if I could do this if I showered first thing in the morning. My schedule gives me the ability to shower mid-day, when my metabolism has already gotten going. I’m just not sure if I could face icy waters straight out of bed every morning.

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  1. I can only take cold showers in the summer. If I take a cold shower in the winter I’m cold all day long and just can’t warm up. Then again, I typically shower in the morning.

  2. I have learned MUCH of this type of stuff the last couple of years. I used to suffer from horrendus problem skin, sensitive to chemicals, itchy dry, acne etc…

    It’s really gross…
    but the longer I was gross the better my skin got. (I’m talking up to 30 days type gross)
    Before we humans got obsessed with soap, which is really made just to slick GRIME off It was just a hot bath and then some skin oils afterward.

    I never mastered letting my feet, pits or pubes go without washing…Too many creepy things can happen.

    Now I’m in a house again utterly confused about all the rituals again. I’m partaking because I love the smell of the soaps…and yeah I am getting some zits again.

    All the lotions and potions conditioner included are really just oils cut with products that will make their distribution prettier and easier.

    You can get straight aloe gel or drinkable aloe + drop of oil (jojoba, olive, almond whatever you like) and that’s shampoo.

    A little oil rubbed in your head = conditioner. It will feel wierd till your hair dries and the amounts are an art but…yeah same same.

    I am finding that a lot of oils are really non comedogenic (sp)
    even with makeup pile on top of them.

    Aloe makes a great “dude” lotion because it’s not greasy but actually mosturizes and benefits the skin.

    One final thing. Eat more oils and drink more water.
    My skin was also dry from avoiding grease and oils like the plague. Now I put olive oil on my sald with the vinegar.

    I can’t meet you with those cold showers. I’ve read the literture. You will find my ass on a rock with a big soup pot and a rag. Or dirty. If It’s freezing I am not getting colder first thing in the morning!

    1. Yeah I don’t think I could do the first thing in the morning cold shower every day. I need time to warm up first.

      Thanks for the tip re: aloe. I might check to see if Stacey has any sitting around.

      Oil is wonderful, I try to eat plenty of it. Olive oil, fish oil, flax oil, etc.

  3. Благодарю за информацию

    Классно 🙂

  4. Благодарю за информацию

    Классно 🙂

  5. Благодарю за информацию

    Классно 🙂

  6. Благодарю за информацию

    Классно 🙂

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