I’m a firm believer in practicing what I preach, so I finally decided to challenge myself in taking a cold shower for an entire month. Let me tell you, I almost didn’t make it…
I had heard about all of the health benefits. Ranging from improving metabolism, boosting your immune system to fight off colds, and increasing endorphins in the brain, which can lead to feelings of well-being and happiness. There’s even evidence that supports that cold showers can even relieve symptoms of depression.
For me, I was especially interested in how taking cold showers every day would help increase my alertness, clarity, and resilience. And I have to tell you, it not only taught me a lot about myself but even a couple of lessons about life itself.
I like my showers hot, hot, hot! Especially during the wintertime, so I knew this challenge was going to be very hard for me. As a long-distance runner, I used my hot showers as a gift to myself after achieving a mileage goal that I wanted to accomplish for that day. I had to throw that out the window very quickly! I’ve always read how cold showers and baths help the body recover faster from workouts, so I used this knowledge as a mental reminder to myself.
Let me tell you; it was not easy! The first week was tough. I would turn the water on and stand outside the shower to pump myself up before hopping in. I did whatever I could to muster up the motivation to get in that shower. I said affirmations to myself, jumped up and down and even threw on loud music. I searched for every reason not to hop in the shower. But once I finally got in and felt the shock, I managed to get myself under control.
The next couple of weeks were manageable, but honestly, the cold shock feeling didn’t get any better. I became accustomed to the feeling and adapted accordingly. Throughout the month, I used my calendar on my phone to continue to check off the days one by one. As the days got closer to the end of the month, I started getting excited about the feeling of taking hot showers again. I nearly forgot how hot showers felt. The best part of any of this was getting out of the cold shower. I felt a burst of energy, excitement, and a sense of accomplishment.
The 30-day challenge taught me a valuable lesson about life itself. When you want to set a goal or even overcome a challenge in life, it doesn’t get any easier; you just get stronger. You begin to adapt and overcome. You develop an inner knowing and belief about yourself that allows you to continue to persist despite the discomfort, obstacles, or challenges. And once you’ve built up your reps of continuing to attack the challenge ahead of you, the actual task may not become easier, but you develop the internal belief and drive that allows you to persist.
You develop an inner knowing and belief about yourself that allows you to continue to persist despite the discomfort, obstacles, or challenges.
Every cold shower I took was uncomfortable, and it surely didn’t get any easier. But after every shower, I began to develop a psychological resilience muscle that allowed me to adapt to the challenge to preserver toward my goal.
As Resilience & Mindset Coach, I am continuously reminded that psychological and mental resilience can be learned and built into the psyche of a human. One of my favorite books that discusses this is Adversity Quotient (AQ) by Paul Stoltz. In the book, he discusses how the clearest difference between those who achieve success in life versus those who don’t is the ability to persist despite adversity. In addition, he discusses how the AQ, which he dubbed as the “Adversity Quotient,” may be a more important ingredient to success than IQ tests!
As a result, your ability to handle difficult situations, adversity, and challenges in life will be the defining factor in how your life plays out for you. We can’t always control what happens to us in life, but we can always control how we respond. Resilience is a skill that can be mastered. And once you master it or become accustomed to it, it will determine your destiny.