I read an article several years about the benefits of taking cold showers, and believe it or not, there are many. I’ve been taking some form of cold shower ever since.
I usually take my normal shower using hot or warm water and then rinse with cold for up to one minute or longer. Sometimes I’ll rotate between hot and cold in 20 to 30 second intervals, and sometimes, especially if I’m training for a physical event, I’ll go straight up cold.
It’s not my intention today to go into all the benefits of cold showers. There are plenty of other articles out there that go into the benefits, and I’m including a link to a great article from 33fuel.com that lists 12 including:
- Boosting Immunity
- Reducing Depression
- Boosting Metabolism
- Less Time Off Work
- Improve Muscle Recovery
- Improves Blood Circulation
- Feeling Energized
- Reducing Chronic Fatigue
- Boosts Fertility
- Wakes You Up
- Makes You More Attractive
- You’ll Sleep Better
I started taking cold showers to reap these benefits but there is an added bonus that I want to focus on today: It helps train “The Big 4 of Mental Toughness”.
The Big 4 of Mental Toughness is a process we teach to increase mental and emotional resilience and we could all use that in these crazy times we are living in. Teaching the Big 4, however, is not enough. The skills must be trained.
The Big 4 Skills:
The first three skills are practiced in our morning routine. We sit in silence controlling our breath, using a process we call W.I.R.M to maintain a positive mind, and we visualize. Goal setting is practiced by crucible and for most of us a cold shower qualifies as a crucible.
A crucible is defined as, “a situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new“. Basically it’s something hard for us to do that gets us out of our comfort zones, and grows us into something new on the other side.
How the Big 4 all come together during a cold shower.
When the cold water hits you, your body will feel the shock and you’ll lose your breath. The first thing you want to do is control your breath. Begin taking deep breaths through the nose. If we control our breath, we can control our thoughts which lead us right into #2.
Now that you are controlling your breath, what are you thinking? Chances are you’re hating life! “This SUCKS”! “SCREW this”! “The guy who wrote that article is a NUT”! Those may be some of the thoughts that you are thinking. If so you want to change those negative thoughts to positive thoughts. We do that using the W.I.R.M process!
- Witness the negativity. Metacognition, or thinking about your thoughts, is what we want and if you are thinking the thoughts above and you realize it, you’re there
- Interdict those negative thoughts with a power statement such as; “STOP!”, “Not today!”, “Not this!”.
- Redirect your negative thoughts to positive thoughts using positive self talk and imagery, and move towards a tangible result related to your goal.
- Maintain your new positive mindset with a mantra. A mantra is a positive statement or jingle that keeps you in a positive mindset. One of my favorites is “Day by day in everyway I’m getting better and better”. Pick a mantra that works for you.
Now that we are controlling our breath and our thoughts are in a positive place we are going to visualize powerfully! See yourself getting through the cold shower. See yourself dressed and warm, taking on the day or performing whatever task is next on the agenda. As you visualize try to make it as real as possible. Feel the emotions of knowing you completed the shower. If you are visualizing yourself being warm, see the sun and imagine how warm it feels on your skin.
The final step of The Big 4 is to create goals and micro goals. Break your big goals down into smaller, more manageable chunks. If your goal is to get through 30 seconds of cold perhaps your micro goal is just to get through the next breath. You can do one more breath, right? If your goal is 5 minutes of cold, figure out ways to break it down into smaller chunks. It could be breaths, you could count to 10 over and over, or if you can see the timer perhaps it’s just one more minute, 45 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds. Hopefully you are getting the idea.
There’s lot of other examples of crucibles we can do to train The Big 4, but taking a cold shower is easy to do daily and there are many other health benefits as a result.
We do live in unprecedented times and it’s easy to get caught up in the stresses that are going on around us. I use the Big 4 on a daily basis in all areas of my life to help me manage stress and negative emotions, and I teach my clients to do the exact same.
If you’d like to learn more about The Big 4 of Mental Toughness, how to train it, and how to use it in your life, we are working on a webinar that does a deeper dive.
Make sure you sign up for our email list and we’ll be sure to let you know when it’s ready and scheduled. And by signing up we’ll send you a video of Commander Mark Divine teaching a Box Breathing practice so you can get a jump on the #1 of the Big 4!