No, cold shower is not innuendo. I mean an actual cold shower.

The start of each year is usually flooded with articles on self-improvement. A lot of them talk about getting out of your comfort zone and how to finally start making resolutions that you can keep.

Many of these lists include items that aren’t exactly easy to do. That’s not a surprise. After all, growth usually comes with a certain level of discomfort.

What is surprising is how many of these lists include waking up early, eating healthy and… *ba-dum-tush* taking cold showers.

While I’ve been making some progress on the first two things, taking cold showers has proved to be a lot more challenging.

Those who know me will know that I’m almost always cold. I feel most comfortable when it’s 28-30 degrees. Anything below that is unbearable unless I’m wearing layers of clothing.

But I’ve been showering in cold water for about two weeks now – the whole shower, not just 30 seconds at the end. What I’ve discovered is that there are ways to make a cold shower more bearable, and even, enjoyable.

#1: Workout more often

I skipped making January resolutions this year. Instead, I started daily workouts at the end of December.

A lot of new year fitness goals involve signing up for a gym membership and making a promise to go to the gym. But I already know this doesn’t work.

The two excuses I hear very often are “I have no time” and/or “I’m just too tired”. I’ve made these excuses myself.

But surely, I told myself in December, there are at least 5-7 minutes to spare in a day and surely, there are exercises that are actually more relaxing than tiring.

On days when I have very little time, I fit in a 7-minute (sometimes 5-minute) workout. When I have time but feel like I might be too drained for a full-on workout, I do yoga. And then of course there are days when I play sports (futsal ftw!) or go for classes at the gym.

do yoga for a relaxing workout

Pix credit: Matthew Kane

This works for me but I’m sure everyone is different. You just need to find a physical activity that you enjoy doing. (Sex can be pretty good cardio :P)

Physical activity makes your blood circulate better and helps your body to stay warm.

After a really good workout, a cold shower feels like just the thing my body needs.

#2: Get your hands and feet wet first

Whenever I take warm showers, I hop right in and start washing my hair. I’ve realized that this doesn’t work when taking a cold shower.

The last time I did that, I had a real shock. My entire body just stiffened up and started shivering. This isn’t pleasant and certainly not enjoyable.

Like a lot of difficult things, getting your feet wet is a good way to start (literally, in this case). I usually start with my hands and feet first, slowly moving my way to the middle.

This helps my body warm itself up a lot more gradually and by the time I properly step under the shower, the water feels a lot warmer.

start doing something difficult by getting your feet wet first

Pix credit: Dan Musat

#3: Keep breathing

Before I got the hang of taking cold showers, I sometimes found myself gasping and struggling to breathe. It was as if all the air had been sucked out of me, like my lungs and chest were rebelling against the cold.

These days, I’m learning to be more mindful of my breathing – something we take for granted. I’ve learned to keep my breathing steady and to keep breathing in and out, in and out at a slow and easy rate.

Rather than rushing through the shower like it’s something to get over with, I’ve learned to take my time and slowly scrub all the grime of the day off my body.

Pix credit: Sokoloff Lingerie

I no longer dread cold showers. In fact, I’m beginning to see why “take cold showers” is an item on so many of these “change your life” lists. While hot showers usually leave me feeling relaxed and comfortable. I come out of cold showers feeling sharper, more refreshed, and surprisingly comfortable as well.

Even if I’m tired after a long day of work, a cold shower is all I need to feel like I’m ready to go again. And this is just one of the many benefits of taking your showers cold!

It also makes your skin look better and helps you burn fat. These two reasons alone are compelling enough for me but I’ve discovered personal benefits as well.

A cold shower is difficult but life is harder

When I make the choice to do something difficult on a daily basis – for 30 days to start with – and succeed, I feel like I can handle all the other difficult parts of life as well.

“If I can do this, I can do that too,” I tell myself. If I can take a cold shower, I can get out of bed in the morning. I can send out that cold email. I can finish that last HIIT rep.

If I can do all this, I can handle the personal struggles that lie ahead too.

Strength does not come after one climbs the ladder or the mountain, nor after one “makes it” – whatever that “it” represents. Strengthening oneself is essential to the process of striving – especially before and during – as well as after.

— Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves