Niklaus Gerber

September 20, 2022

Embracing the cold shower

I hated cold showers, and now they are my daily treat. I am sharing some tactics that worked for me to embrace the cold.

Starting my day with a cold shower would never have crossed my mind. Besides swimming in the summer, I used to dislike cold water. Instead, I preferred to start my day with a hot and steamy shower that kept me toasty warm all morning. However, I knew that cold showers bring scientifically proven health benefits. Besides positively impacting your circulation, the drainage of your lymphatic system, and improving your metabolism, cold showers can also help you boost brain function and fight off depression. Furthermore, icy water can increase endorphins and help you control your emotions.

It was only after reading "Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers" by Timothy Ferriss that I thought I wanted to give it a try. But how do you start taking cold showers when you want to avoid the discomfort of cold water (eight degrees Celsius in my case)? After trying out different tactics, I found something that worked well. I started with a regular hot shower. Once done, I set a timer to 30 seconds and changed it to the lowest temperature possible. After that, I increased the time by a few seconds every other day. I can take a cold two-minute shower comfortably, but I would love to expand it to three to five minutes. Doing it this way helped me slowly get used to the discomfort.

What helped me was to focus on my breathing. When the cold receptors in your skin are suddenly stimulated, they cause an involuntary gasp and hyperventilation for about a minute after that. So take long, deep breaths and stay focused to get your breath back under control. This will not only help you to relax but also will take your mind off the initial shock.

It is helpful to consider mindset changes whenever you try to form a new habit or routine. It is incredible what your body can endure if you approach a challenge with positive beliefs. For example, I hype myself up every morning with the following mantra.

  • I am so excited I can finally have an ice-cold shower.
  • The icy water feels fantastic on my skin.
  • This is my personal spa experience every day.
  • Afterwards, I feel stronger, happier and more awake.
  • I love cold water.
  • I love cold water…

Turning the tab to cold is something I can't wait for these days. I had some days when I skipped the warm shower altogether because I was so pumped to hop in. I am sure you will have better results with this approach. But you have to believe in your mantra fully.

After a month of cold showers, I don't think I will stop having them. Overall I feel more alert, calm and focused during the day. It felt easier to start with daunting tasks in the morning, and my skin is overall healthier (I have bad skin). Since passing the two-minute mark, I also feel in an overall better, more lighthearted mood. Finally, I understand all those crazy humans who prefer a cold shower, and I am glad I overcame my dislike of icy water.

About Niklaus Gerber

My thoughts on leadership, life, productivity, design, and innovation.