This article originally appeared on my blog Wantrepreneur on 30 January 2017.
Oh why, oh why did I agree to this?
I hate the cold. It makes me miserable.
If you ask my friends, they'll tell you how much I hate the cold. They'll tell you I set the temperature in my home to what I consider comfortable living conditions, and they will tell you it's too hot.
I've always been nesh. When I was a kid, I was always cold, and would be wrapped in a thousand jumpers to keep warm. There were constant family arguments about the temperature, and in shared houses, a battle with the thermostat.
There are periods of my adult life when I've lived in cold houses, and I remember them as dark, miserable times. Whenever I move house, my primary concern about a new place is whether it will be warm enough for me to be comfortable.
And yet recently, increasingly I've heard people talking about the benefits of cold showers and the power of their ability to cope with extreme temperatures. You know when you learn a new word, and then suddenly hear it everywhere? That's happened with me and people talking about the power of cold showers. Over the past few months, I've heard so many people talking about this.
I can't remember what it was that finally triggered me to try taking a cold shower, and I don't remember what day it was, but I suddenly decided one day to try it. It was a spur of the moment thing. I stepped into the shower, and decided I would stay under it for no less than 30 seconds. I wasn't allowed to leave until 30 seconds were up. At least then, I could switch off the cold water and be back in my lovely warm bathroom.
So I tried it. I stood under the cold water for 30 seconds, determined that I would not be beaten by cold water. It was freezing, and it was mind over matter. As soon as I stepped into the cold water, my breathing changed to short, shallow breaths as my body struggled to cope with the change in temperature. Every cell in my body was telling me to get out of there, to step 30 centimetres backwards, or to the side, or to curve my body in a way so that the water would hit as little of me as possible. I kept my head out of the water; I couldn't bear the idea of the cold water running over my head at that point. I was content to just manage 30 seconds of freezing water. I stood there, struggling to control my breathing; refusing to allow myself to move. I could feel myself getting colder and colder, my hands and feet getting coldest fastest. And I still stayed there.
It felt like a very long time, but as soon as the 30 seconds were up, I switched off the shower, and the cold was gone. And instantly, I didn't feel cold. I could feel myself warming up. As I stepped out the shower and dried myself off, I felt the blood rushing to the surface of my skin.
And then I understood. As I began to warm up and dry off, I had an almost instant feeling of euphoria. My body felt AMAZING. My mind felt AMAZING. I had decided to undertake this mini challenge and I had succeeded. I had borne discomfort for 30 seconds of my day, and instantly I felt as though I had achieved something. It had taken determination and effort to do it, but I had done it.
So of course, I instantly understood that there's something in it, and these crazies perhaps aren't as crazy as I'd thought. I started reading about the Wim Hof method, and his ability to cope with extreme temperatures and wondered what would happen if I were to try and develop my ability to cope with cold showers.
I didn't immediately decide that this was going to be my habit for February, but over the course of January, I wasn't able to stop thinking about it. I am curious to see what difference this will make to my life, and I want this to be part of my life. Will this become a lifelong habit by the end of February? I don't know, but I'm game to try it out.
#2017habits is a challenging I'm taking on for the whole of 2017. Each month, I will be developing a new habit. To find out more about #2017habits, including the list of habits I've already cultivated and the challenges I'm planning to take on, click here. To find out how I got on with my January mindfulness challenge, click here!
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