Today I started my third personal challenge for this blog. This month’s challenge: to take a one minute ice cold shower every morning immediately upon waking up.
BRRRR. I get cold shivers just thinking about it.
I absolutely despise the sensation of cold in the morning, so this is going to be a very unpleasant challenge. Even at our summer cottage, I struggle immensely to get myself to go for a morning swim even though the water is warm.
It’s not that I am categorically against cold water swims or showers. I don’t shy away from the occasional ice swimming, which is what we do in Finland in the winter by first going to the sauna, and then running outside and jumping into a hole in the ice to have a brief swim in the zero degree water.
But those ice swimming sessions don’t happen in the mornings and they involve a hot sauna before immersing myself in the cold water. So for this challenge, I am venturing into an area I have feared and resisted for 39 years.
And ultimately, that is precisely why I am doing this.
Aim of the Challenge
There are two main goals I’m trying to achieve with this challenge:
1. The physical and psychological benefits of starting my day with a cold shower
Instead of the usual “getting up and seeing how I feel today”, a cold shower has been shown to act as a jolt to the body to get the body ready for top performance. The shock to the system the cold water provides gets the blood pumping and our metabolism going in the body, and also has been shown to jump-start our mood and motivation.
In addition to just getting the body ready for the day, there is a long list of health benefits that are linked to cold showers (but that are outside the direct aims of this challenge). Without listing them all, cold showers enhance our immunity system, boost our hormonal activity, crank up our metabolism, improve blood circulation, detoxify our body, rejuvenate and heal our skin and hair, and so on.
In short, aim number 1 of the cold showers is to get my body and mind ready for top performance from the moment I wake up each morning.
2. What happens when I force myself to adopt an unpleasant habit for 30 days?
Despite the benefits of priming myself for top performance each day, that wasn’t the original reason for this challenge. No, the genesis of this challenge was to make myself do something unpleasant but useful for 30 days and then observe and record my reactions over that time. Most self development tasks require us to do something unpleasant, and I wanted to create a challenge that would directly test me in this regard.
There are several questions I want to answer via this challenge:
Will my resistance to cold showers in the morning increase over time? Will it decrease? What is the inner dialogue I go thought each morning before the shower? How do my thoughts and feelings regarding the challenge change over the course of 30 days? If I learn to enjoy the cold showers, what will the change in my mind be like? Can I learn patterns from this that can help me take on even bigger and tougher challenges in the future?
To summarize, the aim here is to understand the nature of psychological resistance to taking on a difficult or unpleasant new habit.
The Specifics of the Challenge
The way this challenge will work is that upon waking up each morning, regardless of the time and place, I will immediately have a 60 second cold shower. No exceptions. At this time of the year in Finland, the water will be “nice” and cold at about 5 degrees celsius (about 40F).
I will probably follow each cold shower up with a meditation and writing session, although those aren’t directly part of this challenge.
The challenge began this morning (October 28th) and will end 30 days from now, on November 27th.
My plan is to post periodic updates, including a video of my first attempt this morning (not the least bit embarrassing, no sir).
Time to defeat some inner demons. Here we go!