Take a cold shower every day.

One of my yearly goals was to select three behaviors that I am opposed to and adopt them for one week, then write about my experiences.

During the month of October, I took a cold shower every day in order to increase my productivity.

More accurately, I spent the last 30-60 seconds of my shower with the water switched over to cold. 


The idea is actually backed by science. From a 2016 piece in Inc. magazine by Jessica Stillman:

A 2007 study published by a molecular biologist named Nikolai Shevchuk found evidence that cold showers can help treat depression symptoms, and, if used regularly, might even be more effective than prescription antidepressants,” he writes. How is that possible? In layperson’s terms “cold water can flood the mood-regulating areas of your brain with happy, sparkly neurotransmitters.”

The experience, disagreeable as it might be, thus tends to reduce tension, and improve mood and memory. And aside from these biological changes, a frigid dip in the morning also has powerful effects on your psychology, according to a New York Times piece praising morning cold showers by Carl Richards. Getting into a freezing shower is undeniably hard, he writes, but if you can make yourself do that, what else could possibly daunt you for the rest of the day?

After a month of standing in frigid water for a minute at a time, here is what I can say about this practice:

I think it works. 

I step out of every shower with more energy and alertness than ever before. Rather than feeling warm and relaxed, I feel alert and alive. I feel like I've accomplished something. I'm moving faster, and I feel more energized and excited about whatever is next. 

This feeling is echoed by Brian Tracy in his book on productivity, Eat that Frog

"Starting your morning by tackling challenges head-on will help encourage similar behavior throughout the day. And, it turns out, there's a wealth of research to back up this idea as well. People who do hard things first tend to procrastinate less and get more done."

It's unpleasant, to be sure, but over time, as it becomes a habit, the unpleasantness decreases significantly. By the end of the month, it was just a thing I did, 

If I'm being honest, I can't say if this practice is increasing my productivity throughout the day. There is no way for me to measure the lasting effects of this cold shower. And since I take some of my showers in the evening, I may not be enjoying the full benefit of the practice. But I know that after 60 seconds under the cold water, I exit the shower with a spring in my step and a sharpness of mind, and I like that a lot. 

For the last two years, one of my resolutions has been to adopt behaviors that I fundamentally oppose for a week or more at a time, and I think I've finally stumbled upon one that I will continue, as crazy as it may sound.