Episode 26 - Cold Showers
Peter: Hey Jen.
Jen: Hey Peter.
Peter: I am just checking in with a little project that I gave you earlier in the week.
Jen: I have a feeling I know what this is about. This is about cold showers, isn't it?
Peter: That's exactly what this is about. I gave you a challenge to start taking some cold showers, and I want to hear all about your progress. So let's unpack that.
Jen: Uuugh, this is The Long and The Short Of It.
Peter: Okay, so Jen, it's status report time. How are you going with turning your shower to be cold? How is that working out for you?
Jen: Well, first I would like to provide some context -
Peter: I should, sorry.
Jen: - to the folks at home. So you take cold showers on purpose.
Peter: Yeah, intentional cold showers. So not always, though, like I am, I have heard you say that you like a very generous twenty-minute hot shower, and I do too. I do that, especially at night. However, in the morning, I intentionally have cold showers. That is correct.
Jen: Can you tell the good people at home why you do this?
Peter: So many reasons; however, it started, honestly it started as a way to wake myself up. There was no more logic to it other than if I put the water to cold in the morning, there is no physical way I can leave the shower still tired, like, it's just not possible. The effect of cold water just completely shocks and resets your body like nothing else. More than coffee can, I think, although I still drink coffee, sorry, I still drink coffee. So for me it started out as shocking myself into waking up, and then moving forward with my day. Since then, I've started to think about it a lot more, and realize that I think there's a lot more application than just waking yourself up, and I think there's actually some science behind this idea, that it reduces inflammation and some other things, but I won't speak out of school and go too much into that because the main, the main other benefit I see in it is getting comfortable with discomfort. Let's be clear: being in a cold shower is not a comfortable experience. It's cold, you immediately feel like you can't breathe, and you start, like, dancing from foot to foot, from foot to foot, and you want to get out straight away. And what it takes is, like, some mindfulness, some presence, some awareness to be able to sort of realize you are in a state of shock, you are in an uncomfortable environment. And so the way to get through that is to stop, is to breathe, is to focus on your breath, focus on staying calm. Sounds really easy; it's super hard to do in the middle of a cold shower. But if you can do it, and you know these showers are only really go for like one to two minutes for me. But if I can stay controlled and stay calm for that one to two minutes, I feel like that translates to so many things. When we can be comfortable with discomfort, we can be confident, then we can handle chaos, you know, at work, in relationships, all of these things where discomfort arises. I feel like this sets me up for that. So that's my long-winded logic for cold showers.
Jen: And earlier this week, you sent me a video essentially challenging me to start taking cold showers myself. So I decided that I would accept the challenge, begrudgingly, and I, the first day, at the end of my luxurious hot shower, turned on the cold water and counted out loud from one to ten, and then turned off the water, and then sent you a slack message that I think contains some sort of profanity in it, but basically reporting, reporting back that I took a ten second cold shower. Well, I've been doing this consistently now all week - now granted it's only one week in, yup, at the end of my shower, and it's gotten a little bit longer each time, but it remains completely unpleasant. Now I'm doing it because I want to, I guess, prove to you that I can, but also because you said it was going to be good for me and all that stuff. So I have, I have two things I want to say about this. One is, is it possible that cold showers are worse for me because the water has farther to travel and therefore hits me harder? And two, my grandfather Sam lived well into his nineties with literally never a day of illness or disease or anything in his life, and what he attributed that to were the following things: one, he ate an apple every day, including the core and the seeds; two, he had a teaspoon of honey before bed every night; and three, he took cold showers.
Peter: Yes! Yes, so what you're saying is, all I need to do is start eating apple cores and having some honey, and I'm going to live well into my nineties. That's what I'm hearing.
Jen: I think that is true. My grandfather also meditated, although he would never have called it that, he didn't know that's what he was doing, but he used to be in this practice of, he would sit with his eyes closed, and he would define it as, "let his mind wander." So he was a very mindful man, and I guess had a, a sense of how to challenge himself and stay very healthy. So, that's the long way of saying I accepted the challenge, and I am so far pretty consistent every day doing it. My goal is to get up to one full minute, because I am, like, not even close yet, I think I'm at about twenty seconds, that's all I can take so far. But when I get up to a minute then we can tack that onto the end of this recording so that people know that I followed through and did what I said I was going to do.
Peter: You can do it, and then we can unpack how you're feeling, how you feel when you step out of the shower, and whether or not you think it's a practice worth keeping.
Jen: So I think this is a time for me to say, "and this is the middle of it."
Peter: Judging by your laughter, you probably know where I'm going with this, because it's been a couple of weeks. I've given you a bit of time, and now it's time for an update on how you're going with the cold showers.
Jen: Okay, so I'm not doing that well with cold showers, and I'm going to tell you why, and then you can absolutely tell me that I'm making excuses. I live in an apartment building that was built in the 1920s, and our cold water, it doesn't get that cold.
Peter: Oh really? I thought you were going to go the other way. I thought you were gonna say it's colder than normal water.
Jen: It's not colder than normal water, which doesn't make any sense to me. Like, if you want an enjoyable, fresh, cool glass of water, you must get it out of the fridge or put ice in it. It's like, it's not room temperature, but it's just sub room temperature. And I have found those cold showers to be far less invigorating or even stunning than the cold showers I was taking when we record - were recording these when I was out of town and taking the cold showers at my in-laws' house.
Peter: That's really interesting, because I was going to ask, well what, why were you worried about them last time? What was the beef? What was the difference? So you, so, just to back up on this point, you're saying the cold shower is not cold enough right now?
Jen: That's right.
Peter: And last time, it was that the cold shower is unbearable because it's so cold.
Jen: That's right, Peter. And I'm so grateful that you reflected my words back to me so that I could hear how sensible they sound.
Peter: That's what I'm here to do, just point out how sensible you are.
Jen: So I guess that means, tomorrow, let's take another damn cold shower.
Peter: I think it's only fair.
Peter: And maybe that is The Long and The Short Of It.
Jen: That's the the hot and the cold of it.
Peter: That's the hot and the cold of it.