Cold shower challenge: epilogue

A box filled with snow to make a snow sculpture (Ekenäs, Finland, Feb 2007). Sometimes the shower was feeling like such a box, with me inside.

I could’ve also named this post “day 21-46”. That’s right, I made it royally past 30 days! I’ve written this before and think that probably in the future I will do so too for other challenges: I do not nearly notice as much (positive) change in how the challenge feels, than many/most other people who wrote about their cold shower experiences. Could be me, could be people trying too hard to write nice, positive and encouraging articles? I don’t know.

Maybe it’s because of the season (the bathroom is cold, the water equally so), but it continued being a drag until I gave up. No glowing feeling, no further habituation,… I’m not sure how all those shiny happy people get the nice feelings that they describe, but I am not one of them. I do occasionally shine and I’m generally a happy person, but that has little to do with the cold shower challenge.

I did the challenge for 46 days and then I stopped, since it was not making me happy. Every morning I would be in the bed doubting whether I should already go to the bathroom. Every morning I would stand in front of the freezing water doubting whether I should already jump under. Yes it’s supposedly healthy and it is probably saving me some cents on the heating and water bill. The one consistent advantage is that it really wakes you up. These things kept me going, but eventually I was sick of feeling so bad and hesitant every morning. Especially when you don’t feel very good already, it’s really very difficult mentally to go and take a freezing shower. At day 45 I was feeling somewhat bad, physically. I wasn’t sick or so but let’s say it might’ve been creeping in. On the third day of ‘being almost sick’ I stopped. It was just all feeling too bad. Anyway I overshot my initial target by 50%, so I think I can still be proud of myself!

In the future I will probably do more cold shower streaks, but I will not start at the onset of winter, that was a bad decision on my part.

Boy, that was one negative sounding post… oh well, good to give some counterweight to all those overly positive cold shower challenge posts I guess? Anyway, let’s go for the next challenge, coming soon!

Cold shower challenge: day 6-20

Ice bears I saw a few years back. Next time I'll join them.
Ice bears I saw a few years back. Next time I’ll join them.

I’ve been doing the cold shower challenge for 20 days now, time for an update.

First things first. Yes, I’m still taking cold showers! On many sites I hear people telling how it gets easy/nice/fun after 10 days. Well, I can tell you that it’s not the case for everyone, or not in such a strong way anyway. I still have to mentally fight myself every day for a minute while I’m standing there, under the shower head, in the morning.

I did find a better tactic to handle it, the most annoying part of getting in cold water, anywhere, is the first touch. When walking into the sea, it seems extremely cold wherever the waterline is, but not nearly so much (or not at all), at the body parts that have already been wet. So If you would watch me shower, which I will not let you, you would see that the first 10 seconds I’m frantically rubbing water all over myself. After that it does get better. When I’m all wet, it’s not so difficult to stay under really.

I also have some data! At this moment our bathroom is more or less 17°C every morning. The water is 12°C. I can tell you, that feels as cold as you can imagine. The outside morning temperature range the last 2 weeks was between 0°C-10°C. It must be such an easy challenge to do in summer, when I was already taking cool (not cold) showers just because hot water is just not nice then.

Cold shower challenge: day 3-5

In flames is a Swedish metal band.

I guess everyone will understand that I can’t write a full post about how I showered every single day, so I’m going to start grouping the days. I also found another very fitting (har har har) t-shirt in my cupboard that will surely help against the cold, though obviously I don’t wear t-shirts in the shower. Yes, another metal band.

Day 3-5. There are a few things I’m starting to notice, now that I’m past the first shocking days:

  • First of all: yes, I’m slowly getting used to go in, the inhale reaction is less abrupt. It’s still there but I can control it more.
  • Cold skin becomes very sensitive, at least on my belly. When I’m putting soap on my underarms with my belly¹, it’s like I can feel the individual hairs, rubbing my skin. As if the are 10 times thicker than normal.
  • Shower gel actually feels warm, in hot showers I used to actually hold it in my hands for a few seconds for “acclimatization”, before applying. Last week me was such a wuss.
  • I think I actually notice now when the water that was present all night in the internal plumbing, has been used up. It’s cold. But at night it’s under 5°C at night now, so the water that comes from the outside is still noticeably colder. Maybe it’s something in my mind, but I really have the feeling that after a minute or so, the temperature drops a bit again.
  • I still don’t look forward to it. It’s almost winter and we don’t heat the bathroom². To get this nice and hot feeling, I’m thinking I need to spend more time in the shower or get out in a hotter environment?
  • I actually think my hair is getting softer.
  • Many people think you are slightly crazy if you take cold showers, but also recognize that they are simply not bad ass enough to even try it. Actually the teenage son of one of my colleagues is also taking daily cold showers. Props!

¹ If you really need to know, I put soap on my hands and rub it more or less everywhere. Then I use the soap on my belly to put soap on my underarms.
² Actually we don’t heat the house, except for a fireplace 2 floors down for an hour or 2 in the morning, with current outside temperatures. The open stairs make the air spread through the house, but we keep our bedroom (and adjacent bathroom) doors shut. I don’t measure the temperature in the bathroom, but I think it’s more likely to be 15°C than 20°C.

Cold shower challenge: day 2

This morning I started pumping up in bed already, I knew what was coming so it was a bit more difficult, mentally.

My viking t-shirt.
My Ensiferum (metal band) viking t-shirt.

It’s not nice, lying in a hot bed, thinking that the next thing you are going to do is quite the exact opposite. Eventually my youngest son wandered into our room, so I took that as a signal to get it on!

I started the same as day 1, with just wetting my feet, then my hands. I decided not to take the sudden plunge into the ice river today, but to gradually move in. Working up courage I moved my full legs, then arms, top of my head under the shower, one by one. Every time I put a new body part under the water, I felt this typical urge to to inhale and stop. Every time I tried to just focus on breathing, it sort of helped. Now eventually I had to go fully under of course, but I had the impression that my gradual approach worked a tad better than the big bang.

I stood under the water, making myself wet and cold everywhere, for some 2 minutes, put the water off and soaped and then rinsed myself for another 2 minutes or so. At this point, I kid you not, my ‘most sensitive parts’ started to hurt. I don’t know why, but this was my signal to get out. I think putting the window open before going in the shower was a bad decision, I didn’t get any warm feeling during or after drying myself off, it was more as if I couldn’t get myself dry.

All in all, today was a mixed experience, going in went better, but I didn’t get any nice feeling after coming out. Just cold. Remind me to close the window tomorrow morning, that cold 5°C air sure didn’t help. It’s a habit from taking hot showers, so that the bathroom is not full of steam. I guess that’s not going to be needed anymore.

So what’s this viking doing on top you might ask? Well I started wearing my viking t-shirt for moral support-to-self. I can’t imagine how a viking would have washed himself a 1000 years ago in the Scandinavian winter, but I’d like to think that they couldn’t care less when they broke through the ice and poured 0°C water over themselves.


Cold shower challenge: day 1

Today was the big day. The first day of my first challenge. It may sound a bit strange, but I was looking forward to this, in a way. Not that I envisioned enjoying the cold shower, but still. I’m going to prove myself, to myself. This has always been a big part of me, I prove to myself that if I decide something, I will do it. If I decide to put my alarm early, I get up when it sounds, no matter what. I decided to take the 30 day cold shower challenge, so I will do it, without hesitating. That’s more easily said than done of course, sitting cozy in the couch the evening before, sipping hot milk.

Waterfall on our holiday. It was such cold water that it hurt our feet after 1 minute.
A waterfall we visited during our holiday. It was such cold water that it actually hurt my feet after a minute.

In the morning I got up from our nice, hot bed to go to the shower. Hesitating came naturally. I got in the cabin, put the thermostat all the way to the coldest and opened the tap. Sweet @#&§% was that cold! Now I wasn’t going to quit obviously. My friends in high school didn’t call me a Russian Siberian experiment for nothing, people that don’t know me personally at work don’t call me “that guy that doesn’t wear sweaters” for nothing. No, I was going to beat this hands down. Well… feet down! I put one foot under. That wasn’t too bad. I mean, sure it was cold but OK, that’s just a foot, not some sensitive part. Then I put the other, one hand, another hand. At this moment I was trying to pump myself up: “it will be over before you know it, how bad can it be, it’s just some water?”. So I took one small step forward and put my head under. Then another step and there I was, standing completely under the shower head of ice-hell. Reflexively I sucked in my breath and started to move back.

No! I stayed under the water but started turning, so the water wouldn’t be at the same spot all the time. A strange feeling came to the parts of my body that got rid of the cold water. In the cold bathroom, they started to feel warm. Just for a moment though, before the ice-spewing shower head would show up again to quench that precious heat. I did this dance for a short minute before I turned off the water. I soaped myself and put the water on again. Not any longer than needed to remove every piece of foam, but I noticed that it was actually a little bit easier to keep standing under it. Maybe the shock effect was gone, since my skin was cold already?


I was happy to get out. Obviously because the torment was over, but of course also because I did it! I was very much awake now and my skin was again glowing a bit where I rubbed it dry. It’s good to end the shower session with a nice feeling. If I would be cold to the bone and shivering, it would probably be very difficult to mentally prepare myself for the next time.

1 day down, 29 to go.

Pete Precise, Mr 30 day challenge.

Hi there.pete-precise

I am Pete Precise and yesterday I decided I would become a 30 day challenge serializer.

Anyone can challenge me to do a 30 day challenge, or I will just pick out challenges myself. Perhaps someone has a 10 day challenge, I’m also down with that. I just have a few rules that I will follow, because of moral or lifestyle choices I made:

  • We are well on our way as a family to early retirement, so I’m not going to do any challenges that will drastically expand our spending.
  • I’m living a healthy life. Or at least I’m trying to. So don’t come to me with some unhealthy challenges like… I don’t know… Eating 2 big macs a day?
  • I have 3 small children and a wife, to me it’s obvious that I also have some time for them every day.
  • This list is not exhaustive, but I want to improve my life by doing many 30 day challenges.

Because of my lifestyle, many of the 30 day challenges that I see posted around on the internet, I am already doing. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t drink coffee, I ride my bike to work every day, I take my lunch to work every day, we don’t ever watch TV (we do watch a movie now and then), etc. But surely there are plenty of challenges that I can still do. Beginning with my first challenge (ever!).

30 day challenge 1: cold showers.

I will take only cold showers for 30 days. Actually, if it turns out to be even a bit OK, I will most likely just keep doing it forever. This challenge just fits well in our life, it’s healthy and cost saving, what more can I want!