In my last post, I talked about why I have been taking cold showers for the past two months. In this post, I am going to share the two easiest methods I have found to make taking a cold shower more manageable.
If you don’t regularly take cold showers, hopping right into cold water might feel shocking. As the cold water runs over your skin, you might feel a strong urge to dodge the water. In addition to this feeling, your heart rate will rise and you will likely gasp for air for a few breaths. This is normal, but it won’t be like that every time, if you try one of these two methods:
1. Take a regular shower; clean yourself in warm water like usual. Then slowly lower the temperature a smidgen. As I lower the temperature, I keep the water on the base of my spine where it meets the hips until the water temperature fully adjusts. Then I work the water up the spine, to the neck, and then over the top of my head. The spine and head tend to be where the temperature difference is felt most, so after that rinsing the rest of the body is easier. I repeatedly lower the temperature a bit and then rinse the whole body until I get to just cold water. Try to stay in the cold water for a minute. Then the next day try to stay longer. Repeat.
2. My new personal favorite is to go cold from the start. To ease my way into a cold shower, I rinse both legs in cold water and then dip my head in and let the water flow over for a few seconds. Then I bring my chest in and rinse my full torso. After that I rotate across the shoulder blades and chill my neck and spine. And, again, I stand in the water for a few minutes – five at most.
After taking cold showers for only a few weeks, I no longer gasped for air when the cold water hit my spine, neck, and head. Additionally, I felt a noticeable difference in the amount my heart rate increased when exposed to the cold water. The cold water started to become less shocking. I honestly started to wish it would go colder because I wasn’t getting that same adrenaline kick from the cold exposure that I did, initially.
My experience is definitely impacted by my mindset going into a cold shower. I am not just there to clean myself; I am there because I want to experience being cold. A friend of mine once told me, “cold is just a sensation.” A simple phrase, but the words stuck with me. Thinking of cold as a sensation creates distance between you and the feeling. As I stand in the cold water, I observe the feeling, label it as a feeling, and just breathe. As I move the water across difference parts of my body, I try to observe what is happening to my body and how it feels. I observe how my skin tightens, how goosebumps rise, I try to feel my heart beat by just listening, and I take each breath while actively thinking about the breath.
With time my skin has come to feel like armor.