At the end of 2020, I've decided to make 2021 a challenging year. I have committed to doing 12 monthly challenges, one for each month. You can see the list of all the challenges here. Below is a summary of the July challenge.
What was the challenge?
Challenge: Cold shower in the morning.
Why: I've tried it a few times in the past, usually lasting 2-3 weeks. Every time it wasn't easy, but I loved the effects. Every time, my sinuses flared up (I have a chronic problem with my sinuses), and I had to stop. Maybe it will be less of a problem when I do it in the summer.
How well did it go?
Challenge completion rate: 100% (31 out of 31)
How hard was it?
At the end of each day, I recorded if I had completed the challenge for the day. I also rated how much effort it took on a scale of 1 to 10. While it's subjective, it gives an idea of how hard it was to complete the challenge.
Average effort score: 3.23
Lowest effort score for the month: 1 (2 times)
Highest effort score for the month: 6 (3 times)
What did I learn from it?
The hardest thing was not doing. The hardest thing was deciding to do. First, deciding to do it daily, then deciding to step into the shower every morning. The rest was easy, as you can see in the chart.
I have always wanted to establish a permanent habit of cold showering, and I've tried to stick to it a few times. Each time it started well, but after a few weeks, my sinuses always bothered me, so I had to stop. This time, I want to stick to at least the entire month.
Someone suggested trying showering only from the neck down. I tried it, and it was a good idea. I also made sure to have this challenge during the summer, when it's warmer, and there's a smaller chance to catch a cold.
How did the daily shower feel when I was already in the shower? It felt great both physically and psychologically.
Physically: great feeling after, more effective than even the strongest coffee, and with longer-lasting effects.
Psychologically: anxious until turning the water on, then great feeling during and after. Starting the day with an accomplishment under your belt sets a positive tone for the rest of the day and a ton of motivation to tackle whatever the day brings.
The effects of ice baths are arguably comparable in strength to a high induced by cocaine. Cold showers are not as drastic as immersing yourself in a freezing bath of water, but the high you get from it is undeniable. Plus, there's no hangover, no addiction, no adverse effects. Win-win-win!
- A natural high. A strong, long-lasting high with no negative effects. As good as it gets.
- Increased motivation. When you have a significant accomplishment (entering the shower) first thing in the morning, you're more than ready for everything else the day throws at you.
- Feeling better. Just plain feeling better, physically. Increased blood flow, feeling invigorated, better skin.
- Entering the shower. That moment when you're already naked but still not in the shower. You both want and do not want to enter. The only negative each morning.
- Sinuses. For me, it's a dealbreaker, unfortunately, until I fix it for good. Getting sick every time I try it for longer is no fun.
Will I keep doing it?
I will try. After finishing the challenge for the month, I kept at it for almost another month before my sinuses caught up with me and said "stop." If and when I decide to operate, I'll get back to cold showers. A natural drug with no consequences is too good to pass up.
What's the next month's challenge?
Challenge: No alcohol.
Why: This one should be easy. Recently, I hardly ever drink at all. I'd have to plan it for a summer month where there are more opportunities to drink for this even to make sense.