Cold shower? No thanks!
“Suck it up!” – they say – “and let the cold water flow over you” – hitting you like a million tiny daggers, piercing the soul (that’s my addition). Thank you very much, I’ll pass.
Cold showers have been advised to me for as long as I can remember, but my comfort level has always been too high to try them, and each time I did, the pain was too great to continue. It does not help, that I can’t swim, and so don’t get the exposure to cold water very often. In fact, each visit to the pool was very pleasant for me up to the point of touching the cold water. Not good.
Tim Ferriss has been advocating ice baths for a number of years, Wim “Ice man” Hoff practically lives in ice, and Tony Robbins takes cold showers daily for health, and for training will power. It’s the latter that finally motivated me to start.
Buddhism teaches of the monkey and the elephant as a metaphor for an undisciplined, and disciplined mind. My monkey is very well developed, and the elephant is still very small and timid, so at thirty six, I thought it’s time to act. Tony advocates to train the brain to do as we wish, by commanding it to go into the cold shower. That’s a lot of pain, and because I don’t need to go through this pain, I could go on forever as I do, enjoying my nice hot shower in the morning, as if continuing the pleasure of the warm bed, I’d just left.
Dan Ariely, a scientist who studies human behaviour, published a number of best-selling books on how we operate. His personal experience involving a lab accident, which left his skin heavily burned, and contracting a deadly disease during the treatment, prompted him to conduct research on how our motivation works, and how do we react to pain.
Take it slow
Dan’s research into pain demonstrated, that we’re more likely to suffer lower levels of pain for longer, than a very short burst of high intensity cruelness. He did the research after going through the traditional burn treatment, where his wound dressing needed regular changing. The nurses would be of opinion that it’s best to take it off quick, so that the pain lasts only a short while, but he thought that a longer, but slower process would be more bearable.
The research proved it. We are more likely to suffer less when exposed to the same amount of pain, but at lower intensity, over a longer period of time.
And here’s where we go back to the shower.
Everyone will tell you to either get into a cold shower immediately, and “suck it up”, or gradually reduce the temperature from your normal one. Both require you already have an amazing will power. The first is obvious – the sudden pain basically ensures you won’t do it. The second seems logical, but I’ve done it, and it’s deceiving, reason being, our skin temperature is already higher than it normally is, so the difference to bring it down is even greater.
The solution is starting cold, on the feet. Then move gradually up, centimeter at a time, pacing yourself slowly enough so that you don’t get scared out of doing it.
It’s advised to take a ten minute cold shower, or bath. Instead of jumping in, spend the ten minutes cooling your skin a small bit at a time.
Celebrate! You’re doing it!
Dan Ariely has also shown how to take an unpleasant activity, and make it bearable, or even pleasant for the brain.
During the treatment for burns he contracted a deadly disease, and to survive, he was given the option to undergo experimental treatment using a drug that would make him vomit three times a week after each injection. That lasted sixteen months, and he was the only person in the trial that actually completed it in full.
The way he did it, was by creating a pleasurable substitution to the painful experience. Because he loves watching movies, he would watch a film after each injection, and thus take his mind off the vomiting and bad feeling, and focus on the film.
And so whilst cooling down my skin, centimeter by centimeter, I sang, and danced, and acted silly, because it simply releases me from my shell, and makes me happy.
You can do it too!
And so here’s the recipe:
- Take it slow, starting with your feet, and REALLY taking your time to move up
- Celebrate! Smile, sing to yourself, have fun! Make it as ridiculous as you can, you’re in your own shower, there’s no-one to judge you!
- Once you get to the tip of your head, and you did it, it’s time to reward yourself with your normal shower. Increase the temperature – you will find that you won’t need to go up to your usual high setting.
- Tweet me how it went for you @danieltyrkiel 🙂
Currently I’m using the full power of my will to promote my crowdfunder http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/know-the-true-health-of-your-soil
This is for people who have a garden, some land, pasture, a crop, and wish to solve all of their weed, pest issues by employing a healthy soil ecology. See the crowdfunder page for more details.
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