Overcoming a Cold Shower Challenge
“We as a species have unlimited power of our mind. We can make anything happen.”
~ Wim Hof
For years, I heard about so many health benefits from taking cold showers. I was reluctant to try it to say the least. Just the thought of cold water hitting my body made me squirm. I would recall times when someone flushed the toilet or turned the water on while I was taking a shower and getting an unpleasant and shocking blast of cold water. My cortisol levels shot up through the roof. It’s like taking a shot of pure adrenaline and because I hated the cold feeling, anger quickly took over me. Man would I get upset at the person who was responsible. I am sure some of you have shared this experience before too.
In 2010, I finally took the plunge into this challenging new goal. What changed my mind? Honestly, besides all the health benefits, it was the mental aspect that intrigued me the most. As a depression survivor, I really appreciate anything that could strengthen my character and resolve. After all, physical, mental and spiritual toughness saved my life.
Ok, how hard could this challenge be? I asked myself as I nervously placed my hand on the cold-water knob. After psyching myself up, I turned on the cold water fully and it hit me instantly. It was brutal. I tried to resist the temptation of turning the water off. Seconds felt like hours. My heart started pounding so hard I thought it was going to go through my chest. At this point, I panicked which made matters even worse. It was only a few seconds, but it was enough.
I told myself that it would get easier the more I did it. I was wrong. Every time I turned the water on, my heart started to go haywire. Actually, I started getting anxious as soon as I stepped into the shower. My mind anticipated the cold water and my heart rate escalated before I turned the water on. This all seemed counter-intuitive. I didn’t want to quit, but I felt as if this anxiety and excessive heart palpations was not healthy. Besides it was not a great feeling and the act became quite stressful and unenjoyable.
Instead of quitting, I adopted a new strategy. I realized that there are 2 intense variables or shocks to our bodies when we are blasted by cold water. The first is getting wet and the second is the cold temperature. Trying to handle both of these shocks at once was too much for me. I decided to start the shower with warm water and then do a cold blast at the end. This made a huge difference. Although it wasn’t easy, I could now control my heart rate and breathing much more. I could finally feel all the benefits which I was learning about.
Recently, I was watching an video where Novak Djokovic, current number 1 tennis player in the world, interviews Wim Hof, a.k.a. The Iceman. Wim is an extraordinary person. He has many world records which include scaling to the top of Mount Everest and running a half marathon in the Arctic Circle wearing only a pair of shorts! Anyway, in his teachings, I learned that the heart and nervous system could be controlled by our minds through proper breathing techniques and mental focus. “Anyone can do it!” Wim said. This motivated me to try what I was not able to do 11 years ago.
I thought to myself, if I went into the challenge with the right mindset and mental focus while adopting his breathing technique, I believe I can do it. There was only one way to find out. I stepped into the shower, faced my fear with a renewed sense of belief and conviction. I began to prepare myself with deep breathing and visualized myself staying calm. Once I turned the cold water on, I stepped through my fear and took back control. I conquered another challenge. I stood in the cold water even calmer than I envisioned.
I was once again reminded of the power of education and self-belief. No matter what you are going through, you can overcome it with the right mindset, approach and self-belief! If you enjoyed this post and are interested in learning more about cold showers (and some of the awesome benefits), I wrote a 5-part series on my experience with cold showers which you can read here (list here).
Your V10 Health Coach,
Sal Crispo P.S. If you are interested, I also make a coaching video for each of these posts on YouTube. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel so you do not miss out on any of the valuable content I share. Here is the link for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUx2lgFslyI