The running water in North Idaho is always cold, but especially in Winter. I hesitated this morning, as I usually do – then I stepped in.
Just over a year ago, I decided to start taking straight cold showers every day. Inspired by a close friend and encouraged by some YouTube videos of Wim “The Iceman” Hoff, I jumped in.
It was rough.
For over a decade now I’ve ended nearly all of my showers on cold water. It’s good for your circulation and takes away the cold feeling you often get otherwise when you step out of the shower (I know, it seems ironic, but it works).
Starting on cold and staying cold is a whole different story, though. There’s something about cold water in the morning that just isn’t the same as a nice hot shower.
My secret for the first few months was deep breathing. I loosely followed the Wim Hoff method and practiced several rounds of breathing in the morning before I took the shower. That made a noticeable difference in my tests. Deep breathing charges the body with oxygen and, for some reason, takes the edge off the cold.
After awhile, though, I adjusted.
I still do deep breathing every day, but often not right before the shower (the affect of blocking cold wears off within minutes). And as the water gets colder here in Winter, I face that daily question.. “Hey Jonathan, are you sure you want to do this?”
Beyond the question, though, I don’t really think about it anymore. This week marks an entire year of taking a cold shower every day. It’s a well engrained habit that I don’t plan to change.
So, why not? Why would I do this to myself?
Well, a few reasons.
It’s good for me. Call it a placebo or not, I don’t get sick as much as I used to. (Here’s an article on Healthline that lists some of the benefits of cold water)
Even more than that, though.. in a world where the luxury of hot water is often readily available, a cold shower is a choice, a self-imposed obstacle. And by choosing to embrace that obstacle, especially at the start of the day, I’m giving myself the gift of a sense of accomplishment. On some days, it’s no big deal. On other days, though, especially difficult ones, knowing that I can get up and do something and that even if the day is falling apart I can complete my tiny habits, is just what I’ve needed to keep momentum going.
It’s still not easy, cold water is cold water. But I’ve grown to love it.
If you want to try it for yourself, I suggest you either start by ending on cold for awhile while you get used to the idea (that’s a great first habit!). If you want to jump in, start with Wim Hoff’s breathing technique. You’ll get the benefits of better breathing and a cold shower together!
P.S. The first edition of the Tiny Habits book is in print and ready to order! Buy your copy today for $10 (with free shipping!) and I’ll send you a personally autographed copy. I’ll also send you a free digital copy as well!