What if there existed a medicine with the power to relieve your stress, alleviate your pain, wake
you up, improve your metabolism, smoothen your skin, and strengthen your immune system?
A drug that prevents sickness, makes you smarter, and stops headaches simultaneously?
Believe it or not, such a potion exists in your bathroom right now.
It’s not a pill. It’s not a shot or a drink. I’m here to tell you that by turning the knob of your shower from red to blue, by embracing just one minute of cold water, you can take a step in the direction of super-human.
Dreading a big test? Absolutely exhausted from last night’s soccer practice? Skip the coffee, jump into a cold shower and emerge more alert, relaxed, and alive.
The idea might be hard to wrap your head around, especially during these wintery months. Why would you submit yourself to this seemingly torturous bathing routine when hot showers can be so comforting? Because cold exposure is a shortcut to good health, a simple form of “body-hacking.”
One study conducted in the Netherlands demonstrated exactly how cold showers might enhance your academic experience. Scientists researched over 3,000 participants, all without prior cold shower experience, and witnessed a 29% reduction in sick absences in the group undergoing a cold shower regiment as compared to the hot shower control group. Additionally, those that braved a daily cold shower reported significant enhancements in their quality of life and work productivity. Not only did cold showers improve the health of these individuals, but the daily routine also brought performance-enhancing effects to their jobs!
As students, we stand to benefit immensely. A sick day every once in a while might break up the monotony of a school regiment, but missing class for an extended period due to illness can be crippling to your semester. Daily cold exposure will diminish the likelihood of having to skip class and wallow in sickness. The routine takes you one step further, though, by reducing mind fog-ery and enhancing your concentration. No longer do the first few periods of the day feel like a continuation of last night’s dreams—with cold showers, you can take a test at 7:30am and feel your sharpest. You will be more alert, ready to conquer the day.
The bodily process of cold shower enhancement is actually relatively simple. When your body is exposed to temperatures that are cooler than its core, the magic of the autonomic nervous system kicks in. The body works to maintain a stable temperature by increasing the circulation of the cardiovascular (heart) and lymphatic (hormone) systems. Much in the same way as exercise, this process boosts strength and energy. At the same time, white blood cells are triggered as hormone levels are stabilized. Total-body healing kicks in.
Your brain is at work, too. The process triggers endorphins and other mood-boosting neurotransmitters, ultimately leaving you happier and more relaxed.
This routine is an instant stress reliever to your body and to your mind. It is one of the most simple yet dramatic ways that you can better yourself every day. By engaging in something perceived as uncomfortable, you are facing a challenge with yourself. Tell yourself that this is an opportunity for growth because it is! The experience of a cold shower will leave you feeling accomplished and liberated.