Women Mean Biz

The cold shower challenge: The secrets I learnt by freezing my bits off

by Jen Wagstaff on 4th May 2015

Let me introduce you to England in February. Cold, bitter wind, dark freezing mornings, pipes iced up. 6am and even the walk from the bedroom to the bathroom turns your kneecaps blue.

Now I normally love my showers scalding. I mean so hot it takes a layer of skin off. The concept of standing under an icy stream of water was beyond terrifying.

The advice I had found on the internet in preparation was anything but helpful.

"Yeah man, like, after your morning jog on the beach, finish your yoga session, then jump in a cold shower. Totally refreshing man!"

Unfortunately, minus degree howling wind did not allow for beaches, gentle jogs or morning stretch sessions, so I decided to settle for:

  • Curse at my stupidity for signing up
  • Count down from 10
  • Leg it into the bathroom to get it over with.

So there I stood, in the bathroom, looking at the water slicing down.

And I looked at it for a long time.

Cursing again at my stubbornness for stupidity, I took a deep breath, shut my eyes and stepped under.

I screamed (in pain? in shock?). It was so cold that it felt like it was scalding me.

Needles pierced my skin and the wind was knocked out of me.

I lasted about 16 seconds and washed a total of one leg.

Was it worth it?

Every day I stepped into that cold shower, and every day I did not want to do it. However, I slowly began to tolerate it, lasted longer and longer, until I could even wash my back under the icy stream (eek!).

And as the weeks went by more and more good things started to happen.

Imagine jumping into an icy plungepool. The adrenalin hit knocks the wind out of you and sends you into a brief state of shock.

To control this, I started experimenting with breathing techniques and clearing my thoughts to moderate my response.

Instead of shock, I distanced myself from the feeling and pushed myself to remain calm. The adrenalin was still there, however I was controlling my response, and I started to feel it like electricity in my body.

It was like having a huge power hit of columbian expresso strength adrenalin every morning, and I was starting to love it.

And if not only the physical feeling of pure exhilaration, I had smashed apart all the lame excuses that I (and others) had given as to why I could not do it.

What are you normally thinking at 6.10 in the morning if you are awake?

For me, after that shower the main thing running through my head was:

I can do it! I can do what 99% of people are too lazy, too comfortable or too scared to do.

How about that to set you up for a successful day?

In Summary...

Standing there and looking at that icy water blasting down is like looking at the many business decisions you will face on a day to day basis. Do you do what you always have done? Do you turn the heat up and make it warm and comfortable? Or are you the person who says,

"No. I can have warm showers for the rest of my life if I want. But today I am going to take that columbian expresso coffee hit and step up to the challenge"

It may be hard, but life is often hard.

It may be uncomfortable, but, if you know that you can bear the uncomfortable, then suddenly you have the freedom and resilience to make choices knowing that whatever the outcome, you are tough enough to endure it, survive and grow stronger.

Read the whole article here




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