Hello friends, and welcome to part 2 of this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter.
Remember to read part one so you’ll have the context for part 2 as we continue with the benefits and how-to of Scottish Showers.
Do you know what a Scottish Shower is? It’s become my newest health routine! I’m loving it and want to share with you what it is, why I do it, and why you should add it to your healthy lifestyle routine as well. Settle in because this month’s newsletter is coming to you in two parts because I have a lot to share with you. I hope you’ll find it both fun and engaging. And at the very least, refreshing!
A Scottish Shower starts off with the water nice and hot, and then you turn it down to cold for the last few minutes. I wanted to know more about the history of this practice, so I did some research. I’ve discovered that cold water baths have been used for centuries as a way to treat various ailments, and that modern studies support the health claims associated with this age-old treatment.
8. They improve emotional resilience. Maybe this follows from the strong willpower. Do you get flustered, anxious or pissed off easily? Cold showers can help. Seriously, cold showers train your nervous system to be more resilient to stress. In study after study it’s been shown that cold showers act as a small form of oxidative stress on your nervous system. Over time the body adapts to this. Along with increasing your adaptation to stressful situations, they will lower levels of uric acid, and boost levels of glutathione in your blood, making you less stressed in general. Essentially, you will be calmer, cooler, and no longer so easily ticked off. The first time you step in that cold shower, you won’t be able to think straight, let alone breath. But after a month, they seem to help you brush off the stress that might typically ruin your mood. I know if you’ve not been taking cold showers this probably makes no sense to you, which is exactly why I’m writing this newsletter. You won’t know until you try!
9. Cold showers increase alertness. If you’re one of the brave souls that has taken a cold shower already, then you will know that at first it is hard to breath. But don’t be scared. This extreme deep breathing is going to dramatically increase your oxygen intake and heart rate, resulting in a natural dose of energy throughout the day. On top of the icy cold water, this deep breathing will leave you feeling alert, instead of groggy, especially first thing in the day. I know that taking a cold shower in the morning, and feeling cold water pour down over our body seems more horrifying than soothing. However, the deep breathing in response to our body’s shock helps us keep warm, as it increases our overall oxygen intake. When our heart rate increases it releases a rush of blood through our entire body. This gives us a natural dose of energy for the day. Katherine Hepburn, a Hollywood actress, was a fan of cold showers. She began taking them daily after being pushed by her father, Dr. Thomas Norval Hepburn, a urologist and pioneer in social hygiene. She would take ice cold baths or showers during childhood and for the rest of her life, and she would advise others to do so as well. The actress swore by cold showers, and had a high energy level to support her claims.
10. Cold showers stimulate weight loss. Cold showers can aid weight loss in an unexpected way. The human body contains two types of fat tissue, white fat and brown fat. White fat is accumulated when we consume more calories than our body needs to function, and we don’t burn these calories for energy. This body fat piles up at our waist, lower back, neck, and thighs, and is the one we all struggle to eliminate. Brown fat is the good fat, which generates heat to keep our bodies warm, and is activated when exposed to extreme cold. Cold showers can promote brown fat activity.
11. Cold showers drain your lymphatic system. An additional, yet crucial, part of the body that is affected by cold showers is the lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system helps carry out waste from your cells. This is key in defending your body from unwanted infections. And when the lymphatic system is blocked, it will show up in symptoms such as frequent colds, infections and joint pain. Cold showers, when alternated between hot and cold water will help your lymphatic system, by contracting the lymph vessels when exposed to the cold and relaxing them when exposed to the heat. This essentially pumps out the fluid that may have stagnated in your lymph vessels, resulting in a stronger immune system and healthier you.
12. Cold showers speed up muscle recovery. If you’re an athlete then you know that taking an ice bath after intense training is one of the best things you can do for a faster recovery. But you don’t need a high tech training facility with cold water submersion to be able to achieve these benefits. Just take a cold shower. Although it won’t be as effective as a fully submersed ice bath, it will improve circulation, and help remove some lactic acid. Try alternating between very hot and very cold to let the blood come and go to the surface. Your muscles will thank you.
13. They wake you up and then put you to sleep! Obviously, an ice cold shower is going to get you up in the morning. We already talked about how they will scientifically increase your alertness, but science aside, if you have trouble getting up and energized for the day, cold showers will change this. Ironically, while cold showers wake you up in the AM, cold therapy is one of the best ways to get an incredible night’s sleep. Strange but true, a cold shower at night puts you straight to bed.
Getting Started with Cold Water Showers
If you’ve spent most of your life taking hot showers, suddenly turning the dial in the other direction can be a big shock to the system. And you don’t want to do too much, too soon, or you won’t stick with it. My suggestion, based on my own experience, is to gradually decrease the temperature of the water so your body can adjust.
Please note that some people with certain conditions should avoid cold showers because of the shock to the body’s system. If you have the following conditions please avoid this practice:
• Heart disease. If my normal, healthy heart felt like it would explode from the cold water shock, imagine how a diseased heart will feel.
• High blood pressure. The contraction in your blood vessels caused by cold water could cause a stroke.
• Overheated or feverish. Your blood vessels need to dilate in order to release heat. Cold water causes them to constrict.
However, if you’re healthy enough for a Scottish Shower, here’s how it’s done.
1. Start off with the hot water.
2. Soap up and wash as you normally would.
3. When you’re ready to rinse, just turn it down to cold. Spend a few minutes under the cold water.
You’ll start seeing the benefits right after the first shower, and it only gets better as you continue. An alternative to using just cold showers all the time is to alternate between hot and cold several times during one shower. You don’t have to start off cold! This is a relief, right? You can start your shower off hot, and enjoy it. But for the last 3 minutes it must be cold! As cold as it goes! Simply start with your shower hot, then after about two minutes change to cold for two minutes. Switch back and forth a couple of times while staying at each temperature for at least two minutes to allow the blood to flush to or away from the skin.
How to Gain The Courage to Take Cold Showers
Okay, so you know by now that cold showers are awesome. Great. Now good luck waking up tomorrow morning and taking one 🙂 It’s hard to take the plunge.
So I think some words of encouragement are in order.
1. You just have to take the plunge. And every time you do it, it will get easier. If you want to be the best version of yourself, you have to step outside your comfort zone.
2. You can turn it into an experiment.
The thought of taking cold showers every day for the rest of your life is daunting. This happens when you try to make any lifestyle change that your mind perceives as permanent. But you can overcome this daunting feeling by turning it into an experiment.
So here’s your experiment.
All you have to do is take a cold shower tomorrow morning and see how you feel. You can start hot, but end cold, for at least 1 minute. Then see how you feel. If you liked it, then do it again the next day and see how two days in a row made you feel. It’s just an experiment, not a permanent life change.
3. Here’s another unique way to approach taking cold showers.
– Write down on a whiteboard or pad: Cold Showers
– Now make 30 boxes, one for each day
– Commit now to checking off those 30 boxes
– After the 30 days, you can decide to keep going or not (I bet you’ll keep going)
But whatever you do, don’t be too serious about it and have fun. If it stresses you out, then it’s not worth it. Remember, this is supposed to improve your life!
Keep finding Joyinmovement, especially under cold showers!