It was December of 2015 and I was on a road trip through South America all by myself. After one month driving through my beautiful continent I stopped for a few days in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. You probably heard about this place (usually called as Atacama desert), as it is the highest and most dry desert in the world, and not to say, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
I was at the patio of the hostel planning for the next days of my trip but I was exhausted, I drove all day long to explore the area and I decided to take a break, talk to the strangers around me for a few minutes and then take a shower.
You know, staying in hostels is a lottery, you can find good ones and horrible ones. This one was pretty good, not fancy but not the worst infrastructure too. I have no problem with that as I am used to staying in hostels but the shower in this one was a trouble, it was either burning or freezing, no in between. Oh I must remember, the showers were shared, so everyone had the same experience.
As I left the shower I continued talking to the people around me and after few minutes I was already complaining how awful the shower was to a middle age Australian woman, certain that she would agree with me. I think she was around 50, maybe more, maybe less, I’m terrible at guessing ages but anyway, she told me she was used to it because she only took cold showers for the past 20 years, including the one on that day.
At first I thought she was crazy, the nights in the desert are pretty chill, even during summer. I think it was around 10°C (50°F), something like that and I was wearing my winter jacket. As we continued to talk she couldn’t stop bragging about how cold showers are amazing and how she could take one in Australia or Alaska, it wouldn’t matter.
I’m not that kind of person who rejects or accepts an idea immediately, I really like to give some thoughts about it before knowing whether something is good or bad for me. I decided I was going to give it try, but just when I went back home. First, because I was traveling and I was afraid of getting sick during my trip and second, because I lived in Sao Paulo which is much warmer place, so it wouldn’t be as bad as it seems to start doing this insanity.
So here we go…
I was finally home, after traveling for so long and this idea of taking cold showers couldn’t get out of my mind, I think that woman was so convincing I decided to finally give it a try. I searched on the internet and found many people who are adept to this self medieval torture, so it couldn’t be that bad, right?
It was a good day to start, not too cold, not too hot, so I woke up, went to the bathroom and started to get undressed with a feeling I was gonna regret it for days to come. I turned the knob to the coldest possible temperature, which is the temperature water comes from the pipes, and without thinking too much I got in.
Man, there are no mantra, inner chi, feng shui or whatever you can do or say to concentrate when cold water hits your body, all your thoughts are about it, and for me at that moment, how bad it was.
I never took a quicker shower in my life, It didn’t last more than 2 minutes. I’m pretty sure mother nature was proud of me, as you know, we have to save water, but you know who wasn’t happy? Yes, me, myself and I. My body was purple, I was shaking and my (censored) was trying to get back inside to find shelter from that announced blizzard.
Of course, after a few minutes I was ok about it, you get dressed and start your day with hot coffee and everything goes back to normal, even my friend down there was recovering well. As the day went by I was amazed by how alert I was, I felt like my thoughts were faster, or like if my brain was the Usain Bolt of the brains, so I decided I would do it for some more days and see if it really had more benefits.
Second day: It was still pretty bad.
Tenth day: It was bad but I was starting to used to it.
My days continued to be more and more productive, I was kind of enjoying the effects on me. So 6 months went by and I continued taking cold showers, I did it everywhere, including the time I was in New York with its hard winter.
Those are the benefits I had from taking cold showers:
ENERGY!! Taking a cold shower first thing in the morning wakes up for good and helps you get things done. I felt like it lasted more time than a cup of coffee.
My skin felt much more firm and less oily.
My hair was getting thicker and shedding less.
I slept so much better.
I wasn’t having much muscle pain from exercising as I used to have before.
The internet says it helps your blood circulatory system, well I can’t testify this as I never had any issue related to that.
In general I was feeling much more energetic and healthier.
I felt challenged every morning, I knew if I could take a cold shower I could accomplish anything on that day.
Alertness and concentration increased for my daily activities.
I felt more alive and in connection with my body. It’s something hard to describe and understand but once you feel it you’ll know it.
I was feeling less depressed, actually my mood was much better.
The lessons I took from this:
We get used to do what is easy pretty fast, it’s just how our brain works, we’re still humans. When was the last time you got into the shower and thought “Do I turn the knob to hot or cold?” Never, right? We are used to choose the easiest and most pleasant option available. I know this still sound weird but choosing the most difficult option is important sometimes. It’s like going on a diet, you know the best option is to eat hamburger, pizza, french fries, etc but if you don’t eat the less tasteful and most disgraceful foods, you won’t lose a pound.
You create a sense of reward. Whenever I did something I was really proud about, I took a hot shower as a reward, and man how good they were. I came to realize if we expose ourselves only to what is good you lose the sense of how good they really are, and it just becomes average.
If you didn’t realized, life is hard and sometimes it will hit you hard, and if you’re not ready you’ll suffer miserably. Getting used to the most difficult things in life is a training to what life will eventually bring in the future. You will be much more prepared to take any challenge at work or in whatever you commit to do.
I took these lessons and started to expose myself to other unpleasant things like drinking coffee with no sugar, starting all possible kinds of diets, no gluten, no soda, no carbs, etc, increasing my exercises and studying goals. These are small things to change I know, but soon I was amazed by how much I could achieve and evolve as a person with few little challenges.
Tips if you wanna start taking cold showers:
- First and most important, it will be bad on the first days and you must have this expectation in mind, but you will get used to it. It is like starting a new diet.
- It’s better to go in all at once, after you get your head wet everything will be better.
- If you feel like, sing, scream, punch the wall, try find something that distracts you from the cold water feeling.
- If this is still difficult for you, start with lukewarm water and slowly turn the knob to colder temperatures. But don’t cheat, the next time you’ll have to take it cold from the beginning.
- Start during summer as it is easier to get used to, after 6 months you won’t care if it’s winter or not.
- Cold showers are better when you wake up, it will be a better start for your day. If you feel like relaxing at night you can take a hot one.