What Happens After 30 Days of Cold Showers (Wim Hof Method)
Here in Jersey City we have exceptionally bad water. Pornstar Belle Delphine’s bathwater — which yes, she bottled and sold her bathwater to fans —is of higher quality.
A hot shower here makes me feel like swaths of radiation are emitting from my body. Washing my face gives me a tingling sensation as though pins and needles are being pushed in. My cat Annie won’t even drink it.
After four months living here I soon developed patches of acne that I hadn’t seen since high school, and my hair was falling out.
I looked and felt miserable.
I tried everything including using coconut oil in my head, filtering our drinkable water, and trying to limit my time in the shower. None of it worked. None of it except the most impossible solution. The one that seemed so stupid I didn’t even want to try it, but has now has become a staple of my daily routine.
The Number One Benefit of Cold Showers
Wim Hof, better known as the iceman, first introduced the concept of cold showers to me. This Dutch extreme athlete has set records for the longest swim under ice, the longest full-body contact with ice, he’s climbed Mt. Everest wearing nothing but shorts and shoes, and has a breathing system that many have used to great success.
Cold showers are a staple of Wim’s life. He recommends it to everyone for the tremendous body and brain benefits that they deliver.
In my case, the quality of my water isn’t improving — which I’m learning is full of magnesium, lead, and Chromium 6 — but, however, it buttresses me with a load of additional health benefits.
Researchers at Harvard found that cold showers lead to fewer sick days, improve sleep, and reduce stress by activating the sympathetic nervous system. They also boost your level of focus. The cold stimulates you to take deeper breaths, decreasing the level of CO2 throughout the body, helping you better concentrate.
One study hypothesized cold showers could become a potential antidote for depression, as the piercing sensation sends an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses to the brain. It’s like a one-minute workout.
Oh, and they burn small amounts of body fat too. Brown fat to be specific, a type of fatty tissue that generates energy by burning calories.
What’s the catch? (There is one)
Cold showers will make you think you’re crazy. That first week is hell. Sometimes you’ll pace back and forth in your bathroom for minutes reevaluating your life choices. Other times you might just give up entirely.
Trust me, fighting through the craziness is worth it. After all, no one becomes their best self by doing what everyone else is doing.
“We have become alienated from nature. But the cold is capable of bringing us back to what we once had lost” — Wim Hof a.k.a. The Iceman
Don’t Over Rationalize it
I was one of those people pacing back and forth as the cold water pounded off my shower walls. “I do enough already,” I thought. “Why am I standing in front of this cold-freaking shower?
It’s easy to ditch responsibilities when you over rationalize. The benefits of cold showers aren’t immediate — but after a week (or less) you will have a good idea of if they’re for you or not.
Think of that first encounter as jumping into a pool. The first minute is devastating, but once you’re adjusted it feels like nothing.
In my first experience, I hyperventilated and every part of my being told me to GET OUT! After a few days, I actually began to look forward to my cold shower. I’d even throwing on a full Strokes or Daft Punk song to act as my timer.
Even a one-minute cold shower will leave you deeply satisfied and feeling like you just conquered the world.
- Start slow: Turn the cold water on and set the timer on your phone to one minute. Pace around your bathroom (no shame) or jump right in if you’re an adrenaline-junkie. It’ll be tough in the beginning, but you’ll be surprised how quickly your body adjusts.
- Consider a Cold Plunge: If you really don’t think you can start your shower with cold water, then don’t. Instead take a normal shower and end it with a 30-second to one-minute cold plunge. You’ll still reap many health benefits.
- Control your breath: You’ll likely hyperventilate that first or second cold shower. This is natural. It’s your body’s “Fight or Flight” system being shocked (which is good for alleviating stress and burning calories). Take deep breaths and try to get your breathing back to normal. The Wim Hof breathing method has become very popular recently, but deep breaths in and out will work too.
- Revel in the joy after your done: I don’t care if it was your first time or your 1,000th time, you freaking did it! Revel in the joy that you accomplished something today — you faced your fears head-on and defeated them. The joy will come naturally but revel in it a little extra.
I live by Navy Seal and Ultramarathon runner, David Goggin’s philosophy: “Do something that sucks every day.” Goggins doesn’t mean to enlist in the Navy Seal core and commit to running 20-miles every day (but you could).
Just do something — no matter how little — that sucks every day. As Goggins puts it, “callous your mind.” Be 1% better every single day. It’s that easy, and that hard.
This is why cold showers are so great for the body and brain. Your body is shocked to the core and activates several dormant systems, while your brain delivers that sweet dopamine high for accomplishing something.
Give them a try. You won’t regret it
“Fear does not go away by itself. You have to confront your fear, mold it, then learn to control it in its own irrational reality. Every human being has the power to do just that. To go deep within and confront your inner being is a powerful act. Going deep and developing the willpower is the only way.”
— Wim Hof