March 16, 2021 9 min read
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Perhaps for those who are used to saying to themselves when they wake up “five more minutes” when the alarm goes off under the fluffy duvet and the warmth of the bed, this idea seems far-fetched. However, it is not something new and many of the most productive executives in the world apply it: get up immediately, without hesitation, very early, and take a cold shower.
This is a practice known since ancient times: Hippocrates, the Greek doctor born in 460 BC, considered the greatest of all time, recommended it to his patients as a remedy for many diseases.
At this time, Cristiano Ronaldo was one of the first athletes to refer to his practice of taking cold showers for muscle recovery; And also the singer and actress Lady Gaga was shown in photos in a variant of the cold shower: she takes ice baths.
Also bathing in cold water at dawn has its followers in the corporate world. One of the cases is that of Jack Dorsey , co-founder and CEO of Twitter , who not only belongs to the so-called “Club of 5 in the morning”, those who get up when the rooster crows, but the first thing he does is take a long cold shower. In this case, he then goes into the sauna for about fifteen minutes, and also does meditation and mindfulness, in addition to walking 8 kilometers each day to go to the office during regular work times.
When hot water was a luxury
Having hot water was considered a luxury in ancient times, so it was normal to bathe in cold water.
The first showers were thus developed by the Athenians; and the Spartans got up from sleeping on a wooden floor, did two hours of intense exercise, and then took a good bath in cold water.
There are also cultures that use cold water as part of their ceremonies, such as the Japanese Shinto and their ritual of purifying themselves while under a waterfall; and his ancient samurai poured buckets of ice water on his head in the morning for the same purpose, in addition to energizing himself. While in Russia or Finland it is very popular in winter to get out of the sauna bath and plunge into frozen lakes, surrounded by snow.
In my case, I am incorporating the cold water bath every morning. At first you feel it like a real thermal shock, although as the days go by, the body adapts and you even enjoy it. Scientists indicate that it takes approximately ten days in a row of practice to accustom the body to these showers.
Of course, before starting this change of habits it is necessary to consult with the medical professional. For example, they are not recommended for pregnant women or during a menstruation period because the female body is already in a situation of stress and it would not be appropriate to add another stressor. Nor if you feel cold, flu, heart or lung conditions.
7 benefits of bathing in cold water
Many studies have been done on the benefits of taking cold baths upon waking. One of the main ones is to immediately regain consciousness, leaving behind the typical drowsiness of when you wake up.
Also, the whole organism is energized more quickly, and you feel more vigor and strength to face the day.
Greater clarity is another very palpable consequence since your neurons fire quickly and you are more alert. That’s why it makes sense for many executives, high achievers, and super-productive people to incorporate this formula into their morning routine.
In case you want to consider it for your start of the day, here we review other benefits of cold showers:
1. Improves health
As the heart beats faster and the muscles tense a little, the delivery of blood throughout the body is improved, helping circulation.
2. They stimulate hormones against depression
Depression and its appearance are accompanied by an alteration in certain hormones in the body, specifically serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, endorphin and cortisol. Cold water baths in certain cases help prevent or treat it. Remember to always consult with medical professionals.
3. Increased energy
The rubbing of cold water with the skin increases energy levels, because the nerve endings are activated, you breathe faster and the heart beats stronger.
4. Better stress tolerance
Exposures to cold water help improve stress management, and as a consequence, the immune system is strengthened. Medically they have been used to reduce chronic pain, improve kidney function and sleep quality, especially for the feeling of well-being and relaxation after the shock of a cold bath. It has also been shown to improve the appearance of your skin and hair.
5. Increases respiratory capacity
It is natural that as soon as you get into a cold shower you hyperventilate, that is, you breathe fast and deep. It is a response to thermal shock, and, as you seek to calm down and make the experience more pleasant, you take a deep breath, just like when something is upsetting you and you choose this method to calm down.
6. Strengthen your will
Not being used to it, showering with cold water is not pleasant at first, so doing so involves taking courage and practicing willpower. By repeating this action daily, the will center of your mind is strengthened, and you can apply it in multiple areas of your life.
7. You overcome a challenge
Any action that challenges you helps build self-esteem. At first they may seem difficult, although if you hold it in time and with spartan regularity, you will begin to feel more security and self-regulation of your emotions in the face of challenges. When you expose yourself to cold showers there is an acclimatization process, and norepinephrine and thyroxine increase, two hormones of the so-called “good stress”.
5 tips to incorporate the cold shower habit
Like any habit, you have to generate the right triggers and motivators to be able to sustain it. Here are several ideas to keep in mind:
1. Do it suddenly or little by little
You choose the beginning. You can start with a hot water bath as usual, and, at the end, gradually lower the temperature for a week, until you stay with cold water for at least three minutes. Or, slam into the cold stream.
2. It starts in summer
Accustoming your body in times of high temperatures will help you to sustain this practice in the winter.
3. Know that it takes time and perseverance
If you think that “forever” I am going to bathe like this, possibly the reward center of your brain limits you in obtaining the energy to achieve it. Think about it more in terms of “just for today” and you will see that it will be better.
4. If you sweat first, it’s better
For example, doing an exercise routine of any kind before taking a cold shower would go a long way. In fact, it is the recovery technique used by elite athletes to prevent muscle fatigue.
5. Breathe, take a deep breath
One suggestion is to permanently focus on your breathing. You take a deep breath through your nose, release it through your mouth. And you repeat. If you like to sing, this is the time to do it with all your might. And you can also stretch your body in different ways. They are strategies to help you incorporate the habit.