We all know most of the basics when it comes to being healthy, even if we don’t make the time for them. Sunshine, physical exercise, and time to yourself are well known for their benefits to mental and physical health, but there are more health benefits to be had outside of the common buzzwords.
I stumbled across these seemingly counterintuitive wellness tips after showering in cold water regularly. The experience opened my eyes to the strange things our bodies react to and how we can harness those for our own personal benefit.
A cold shower sounds like an unpleasant experience, and to the unadjusted body, it is. The rush of frigid water over your body can leave you gasping for air. Your muscles, so used to the soothing warm water, tense up, turning what used to be a relaxing cleansing routine into a test of resilience.
But what you may not know is that this seemingly masochistic ritual also has some amazing benefits that are well worth the trouble. And on top of that, the circumstances, as well as the overall process, don’t have to be so serious or traumatizing. In fact, it can be a bit of fun.
Let’s get right into the benefits, which are the buzzy headlines that usually draw people in. Some of the known benefits of cold showers:
- It wakes you up.
- It can increase blood circulation.
- Cold showers help reduce muscle soreness post-workout.
- It can assist in boosting weight loss.
- Many find it produces more glowing hair and skin.
- There may be a link to subtle testosterone boosts.
- People experience an improvement in mental health with regular usage.
The most rewarding benefits I think I’ve gained through cold showers are mental strength and health. By slowly adapting the habit of making cold showers a part of my everyday life, I’ve developed so many underlying attributes along the way – such as grit and discipline.
It’s like a form of meditation. When you’re in the cold, nothing else matters. You become truly in the moment. It’s very hard to think about your to-do list or that email you’ve been putting off when drenched in freezing liquid. The only thing that your brain and body focus on is the cold.
Scheduling Around Your Energy
I like to think I’m a fairly scheduled and industrial individual. I love to work out early to free up the day for other areas of my life. But sometimes, even with all the resources at hand and the time available…my brain just goes blah. I can’t get focused, and I find myself scrolling the social media app I just closed two seconds ago. Time seems to (unproductively) fly by.
It’s with this insight, along with learning about Graham Allcott’s book, How to Be a Productivity Ninja, that I started to listen to my body more. Allcott goes into an array of ideas that are well worth noting, but I mainly focused on his notion of paying attention to and taking advantage of your proactive, active, and inactive attention.
By taking advantage of energy periods where you’re fully focused, alert, and have a great sense of flow (proactive attention), you can dive into deep work successfully. Then, when you’ve exhausted your concentration and efforts, take a well-deserved break, and maybe then use that time to work out.
As a bonus to this strategy, I’ve generally found that working out when I’m not feeling that great (not counting being actually sick or injured) has left me in a better mood and with more internal energy, which makes my exercise feel more impactful.
Listen to your body and approach each situation with positivity and self-forgiveness. Not working out in the morning and putting that energy towards preparing for that big meeting doesn’t mean you’ve come up short on your exercise goal. It means you have a chance to use your energy flow more efficiently.
Meditating on the bad
In a world where self-love and positivity are very much trending, pondering things like death, loss, and misfortune may seem strange and unwelcome. And you might be thinking… jeez, who invited buzzkill over here? But there’s potentially immense value in thinking this way, and the results may very well end with self-love and positivity – elements that are still crucial to mental health.
The idea is derived from a phrase of the ancient Stoics: Memento mori. This roughly translates to ‘remember, you must die.’ Yikes! But there’s something to be learned here.
Memento mori is a reminder of the inevitable end, but it’s also a reminder of the present. When you reflect upon the end of times, you can’t help but find appreciation for the moment you’re in. Or when thing’s get stressful and you feel overwhelmed, remember that this pales in comparison to the possibility of an abrupt ending.
You may think this is depressing, but I’d argue the opposite. With the realization of the finite time you have, you find the liberation to act with confidence, say what you mean, and live the life you want. You won’t waste time worrying because, well, it’ll be over soon enough. And in addition to all of this, you will gain an appreciation for life along the way.
“…let us so order our minds as if we had come to the very end. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s account every day.” – Seneca, ancient philosopher
“Live like you were dying” – Tim McGraw, generational Country artist
Next time you feel the pressures of life, try reflecting on Memento mori, and see if your perspective has shifted from one of stress to one of gratitude.
Embrace different approaches
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to individual health and wellness. It is a daily struggle to find what works best for us and our bodies to best maximize our physical and mental health so we can live life to the fullest. As odd as cold showers and memento mori may seem, they provide their own benefits on approach and outlook. Engage with the world around you, dig deeper to find things that may completely change your perspective on the world. After all, we only have one life to live, and who’s to judge what helps us best enjoy it?