What Are The Benefits Of Introducing Cold Showers Into Your Routine?
It's time to embrace the ice, writes Rebecca Keane.
The first time I had a cold shower was probably Oxygen. The queue for the showers was maybe an hour long and in my viciously hungover state, it felt like I was waiting two weeks for even a dribble of water to wash my shame and indigestion away. And to say a dribble is an overstatement. I had one of those hangovers that needs washing your hair, washing your hair, even though I’d just spent God knows how long straightening it before I’d arrived the day before.
I was convulsing standing under the showerhead, trying to wash my matted locks and skin without catching my eye out on the thousands of goosebumps that suddenly stood to attention. I was FREEZING. Little did I know that a few years later, I’d be willingly opting for a cold shower!
There’s no way we can even begin to discuss cold showers without mentioning Wim Hof. The Dutch athlete and motivational speaker has become a poster boy for cold showers, and has been interviewed by everyone from Ferne Cotton to Russel Brand. The Win Hof method is the process many people read up on before dedicating their time to cold showers and it’s based on three pillars such as breathing technique, controlled exposure to cold and commitment.
According to this method, the benefits of cold showers include improving your immune system, reducing stress levels, increased willpower, improving concentration and even weight loss.
When your body gets used to a short burst of stress, like surviving an icy shower (this is called hardening) your nervous system gradually gets used to handling moderate levels of stress. Hardening helps you to keep a cool head in adverse situations, which is extra helpful for the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation.
Vocal fans of cold showers include anyone from Angela Scanlon to James Kavanagh who are so busy yet so bustling and full of life whenever you see them so it makes sense to try it right?
That said, we hear about new health and fitness trends all of the time but whether they’re actually possible or feasible is another story! Trust me to try absolutely anything that has reported health benefits so I stepped up to the plate – or rather, underneath my crusty shower head.
Wim Hof recommends doing 30 seconds at the end of your shower to start off with but as a lifelong eager beaver, I had to try to do better than most. I soon regret this as I have to restrain myself from shouting every expletive I know as the little spikes of ice run over me in the shower! My breathing is choked and trying to remember to breathe through my nose is impossible. I don’t think I’ve shaken as badly as my last panic attack. Sweet suffering jaysis, why did I pitch this article?
As the days go by, I don’t need to internally curse as much when it comes to the cold shower and the 30 seconds that seemed like a lifetime are almost, dare I say it, enjoyable. Waking up with that groggy feeling or if I’m feeling a bit headache, I struggle on, looking forward to the cold blast that the shower has for me.
This week, the slight thrill I found last week has kinda worn off. Some days, I emerge from the shower fresh as a daisy and rushing with endorphins and other days I feel just kinda samey. But surely I can’t reap the benefits of something I’ve done for only 20 or so days? As the weather changes too, the last thing you want to do in a cosy-sit-by-the-fire evening is hop into a freezing shower but by the end of every one, I never regret it.
I weirdly start to crave a cold shower as I know it’ll wake me up like nothing else! Who’d have thought it? My hair is shiny as ever and as soon as I step out of the shower, my endorphins soar. If I were to describe the relief you feel post-shower, imagine jumping into a freezing cold river or sea in the summer, splashing about for a little bit, and then feeling the calm, everything-is-alright-in-the-world feeling rush over you when you float in suspension.
Images via Twenty20
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