This is an account of day 1 of the 21-Day Daily Stoic Freedom Challenge, for accounts of other days please click here.
Day 1 of the 21-Day Daily Stoic Freedom Challenge prompts participants to start things off by taking a cold shower or plunge. It isn’t about pain or punishment or health benefits, as the accompanying email explains, but about building resiliency and making the mind lead the body rather than the other way around:
Have you ever been somewhere where the water pressure was terrible? Or where the people who showered before you used up all the hot water? Did you trudge along without a hitch? Or did you whine? Did you curse the shower-goers who beat you to it? Did you let it ruin your whole day?
Most of us live in fear of this type of inconvenience, of even the slightest physical discomfort, and we become weak as a result. If you can practice pushing yourself to the point of discomfort, however, and you can maintain a positive, steady state outside your comfort zone, that’s when you begin to build resiliency.
I turned the shower on at 05:45, moved the dial into the blue, and stared at the steamless stream bleary-eyed for a few seconds before deciding that yes, I’ll go ahead and put myself through this mild torture. Stepping in, the freezing water bounced off me like icy rain and my first reaction (aside from a sharp intake of breath and some form of vision impairment) was that I wanted to swiftly step back out.
I turned my shoulders in, however, closed my eyes, and braced for about ten shivering seconds before I allowed myself some respite to apply shower gel away from the painful downpour. I stepped back under for ten seconds to rinse off. Out for shampoo. Back under for ten more seconds. Out. Done. It was possibly the most efficient shower I’ve ever taken and the most awake I’ve ever felt before 6 am. Trying to regulate hyperventilation might be the highest level of awakeness.
After drying off, I felt a sense of achievement at completing the first task of the challenge and that definitely elevated my Monday morning mood as I grabbed a coffee and left for work. There are reported health benefits to taking cold showers but these were secondary in my thoughts compared to knowing that I can (just about) manage without warm showers in the future if I need to.
Checking the group Slack channel afterwards it was refreshing (maybe refreshing isn’t the right word after being suitably refreshed by an arctic jet blast) to see so many people showing enthusiasm for something so simple, and clearly sharing in my contentment at having achieved something before the day had even really begun.
Two fellow participants embodying the enthusiasm in the channel were Nathalie and Dave, both of whom chose the cold plunge option in the amazing settings below.
What a way to start a day!
Taking a cold shower builds resiliency and is a way of achieving something before a day even properly begins. I might make it a regular thing, just not every day. 😊