The Unexpected Mental Benefits Of Taking A Cold Shower

For most of us, there is nothing as relaxing as taking a warm shower. Whether it's after a long day at work, before starting our day, or after a great workout, showers are known for steaming up our bathroom windows and giving us a much-needed reset. We've proven to love the act of showering. The BBC found that in a ten-day period, 100 families took nearly 2,600 showers. Showers are a preferred way to get clean and feel refreshed.


However, instead of opting for a warm, steamy shower in the morning, there may be mental benefits from taking a cold shower instead. Cold showers, while undesirable for most of us when it comes to relaxing and calming ourselves, may be an uncomfortable way to take care of our minds. Because of the healing effects cold showers have on our bodies both inside and out, it may be worth your time to opt for a blast of cold water the next time you get clean.

Cold showers help us stay alert

Cold showers may sound like the last thing you want to do first thing in the morning, and that makes sense. Cold water hitting our skin is shocking, and is usually the punishment for being the last one in our families to take a shower. The reason we flinch when we feel cold water on our bodies is that it shocks our circulatory system and stimulates blood flow. But these effects are actually great for us because it wakes us up and helps us to feel refreshed faster than we would in a warm shower (via the Cleveland Clinic). 


This shock to our system increases our energy level and our mental clarity. This blast of frigid water also encourages our body to release endorphins that make us feel happy and optimistic, says Healthline. After a cold shower, you're likely to feel more vibrant mentally, ready to take on your day.

Cold showers help us deal with stress

Taking cold showers can actually help you deal with the stress in your life better than warm showers. According to Wim Hof Method, cold water immersion is beneficial for your mental health because it addresses your parasympathetic nervous system making you calmer and more able to deal with the stress that the day brings. Research has shown the effects of cold water showers on lowering depression, and they have even been credited with missing less work because of mental health concerns. 


By showing up for your day more consistently, you are able to feel a sense of control that is absent when you don't feel healthy mentally to tackle tasks at the workplace. Cold water works so well in this way, that if you are feeling overwhelmed by emotion, try shocking your system with some cold water to center yourself (via USA Today). By exposing your body to cold water rather than warm, you may be making the rest of your day easier with less anxiety. 

Cold showers reduce anxiety

Cold water showers have beneficial effects on reducing anxiety. Because it gets our endorphins pumping, we are feeling happier and awake, but it also reduces the cortisol hormone. According to Lifehack, by reducing cortisol, we are less likely to experience overwhelming stress and anxiety. We are more centered and more able to deal with stressful situations that come our way. These findings shouldn't be surprising as it has been long known that cold water has magical effects on our minds. 


A study focusing on winter swimming found great results for improving anxiety and depression, and there have been other studies recently showing people who suffer from mental disorders like anxiety and depression who have quit taking medication thanks to cold dips. While you don't need to take up winter swimming to feel relief mentally, you can recreate these treatments right at home in your shower.

Cold showers improve our focus

Cold water showers and ice baths help us to shock our body and mind out of the same monotonous routine. The Manual says cold showers release norepinephrine which is a hormone that helps to calm you. By releasing norepinephrine, your mood, attentiveness, and focus increase. The reason showering in these frigid temperatures is so effective is that our minds and bodies are often not as stimulated as our primate ancestors. These cold showers stimulate us in a physiological way that shocks us out of our routine and awakens parts of our brain that are usually left unappreciated. 


Found My Fitness adds that while the cold water immersion acts as a small stressor to the body, it's the exact one we need to reduce inflammation, improve our immune system, and increase our brain's ability to stay alert and focused. By exposing our bodies to the discomfort of water temperature a few times a week, we could be helping our bodies inside and out.

Add a cold shower to your weekly routine

To join the likes of The Rock, Zac Efron, and Lady Gaga, consider adding in a cold shower a few times a week (via The Fitness Tribe). It may be an inexpensive way to increase your health and keep your skin and hair looking healthy all year long, but the real benefits come from the mental improvements you'll experience. If you are considering this form of therapy, you should know that you do not need to take a cold shower every day to reap the benefits. By turning down the temperature just two to three times a week, you'll start to notice the positive changes in your mental health (via Polar). 


Warm showers have their benefits as well, so keeping them in your routine is a good idea; however, cold showers have really proven to make those who take them feel renewed and refreshed. It's an inexpensive and simple act that can really help you feel your best.