Cold Showers

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fallsTaken from blog post of Todd Becker:

I find that cold showers are great for the mood. Not only are they physically invigorating, they make you feel alive, vital and ready to take on the day. They stimulate thinking early in the morning. ... These effects are apparent with the first cold shower. If you continue the practice for several weeks, you’ll find the psychological benefits are even greater. First and foremost, cold showers appear to have improved my stress tolerance, by buffering emotional reactions. What I mean by this is that bad news, surprises, arguments, or events that would have previously caused a brief surge in adrenaline or an emotional flush, no longer have that effect, or at most have a very attenuated effect.  I think this is a consequence of becoming acclimated to the the adrenaline-producing effect of the cold shock.  A deeper explanation of why cold showers are effective in boosting mood, and why the psychological benefits of cold showers increase the longer and more frequently you take them is addressed in my recent post on the opponent-process theory of emotions.

He adds:

The initial intense discomfort of cold shock rapidly shrinks in both intensity and duration, and the self-heating process of thermogenesis becomes more prominent after only a few weeks of the daily habit.  I’ve found benefits in weight control, mood enhancement, and generalized stress resistance.  I’ve not had any colds since starting cold showers. When my family was suffering with a stomach flu that lasted several days, the net effect on me was a 12 hours of achiness which I slept off on a single night, with none of the nausea that they had.

A daily cold shower seems to have some psychological benefits

How Environmental Conditioning Helps You Tap Into Your Evolutionary Strengths

5 scientific reasons to take cold showers

The James Bond Shower: A Shot of Cold Water for Health and Vitality

7 Reasons to Take Cold Showers and 1 That Really Matters

Cold Shower Therapy FAQs (amusing) and videos

TEDx talk on cold showers

Here's what forum members shared:

  • Help I'm addicted... to cold showers that is! I've already had 3 or 4 today. I feel my will increasing each time I have one and it gets easier and easier to jump in. I love it! These are fantastic. Just put in one limb at a time until you're whole body is in. Jump up and down if you need to and try to slow your breathing down to it's normal rate. Once the breathing slows down the positive feelings are quite noticeable and make the whole day much better. 
  • COLD SHOWERS! Do them. Once you train yourself to accept/deal with discomfort, you will have strengthened your rational neural pathways, which will DIRECTLY help you with dealing with urges!
  • I opted to start having cold showers as well. Initially this made small improvements to my mood both immediately and then on a more subdued level  throughout the day. I was only taking 30-second little showers mind you; I would just get in, hop around for a bit, and then jump out, as it's really not a  pleasant experience for those first couple minutes.This got even better when I resolved to really stand under the cold water for at least 3 minutes, until my skin went numb from it. Seriously, anyone  who isn't doing cold showers yet needs to try this! You gotta fight through the shock of cold water, the brain freezes, the loss of breath, and eventually  your skin will go numb/warm. Stand there like that for a while, then you'll feel amazing after you've dried yourself and gotten dressed again. It's really  great before bed, too. LINK
  • Cold showers are about 5/10 (in terms of helpfulness) for me. A cold shower is not as practical as you would think because it can't be too cold or you wont be able to stay in long enough to clean yourself. So it has to be closer to average then cold. So I use the technique of fast showers. It works 7/10 for me. Basically I start out with a normal temperature in the shower, and every minute or so I make the temperature of the water colder. The longer I'm in there the cooler it gets. When I finally hit a very cold point, I just shut the water off and end the shower. That way I'm clean and I get the benefit of a cold shower.
  • How I did it: Cold cold showers each day. Yes, hydrotherapy really works. The benefits are many - do a search.
  • Cold showers: I'm on an 81 days streak right now, taking the coldest showers I can, depending on where I am. It's strange how it kills your morning wood yet makes you feel so manly. Your desire to get the fuck out of here is strong, but you resist, and walk out of the shower like you're the king of the world. You're clean, confident, proud, and you can start your day the best way. Age 18 - I don't objectify women anymore & I'm not sad and alone anymore.
  • Running cold water over my genitals can reduce The Urge. I also use a cold wet washcloth to achieve the same effect, if it's impractical to stick my unit in the sink. [NOTE: This technique also appears in Daoist manuals as "dipping genitals in very cold water."] More on this technique.
  • I took a cold shower and didn't feel tired at all during the day. At first it was hard, but then I got accustomed (I did it all the way cold, with no heat). It definitely gives you vitality.
  • What helped me? - Cold showers. Seriously, I still take them. What I do is start off with hot water and wash myself, then turn cold and spend 5 minutes under an ice-cold shower. Afterwards I feel like a king. Can recommend it to anyone. Also kills your boners and fantasies. Age 19 - Confidence is sky-high, Can talk to anyone, No more brain fog, Better image of girls
  • Something I discovered at about the 75 day  mark is the power of a cold shower. If you EVER need something to take you out of your own ahead and put you into the physical real world, a cold shower will do it RIGHT NOW. I tried doing full cold For a few days in a row, and got to the point where I became a fragile and irritable wreck, so now I have switched to the "Bond" shower (start hot and end cold), And have been on that for almost 2 weeks now. Absolutely loving it. But I can say that a cold shower in any time of weakness will throw you into full throttle warrior mode, guaranteed. I find them incredibly enjoyable. Honestly, I think I realized how sick I was of feeling "comfortable" all day. Now the idea of fearing the brisk of cool air as I exit the shower is almost cute to me. I crush that fear every morning by depriving myself of that comfort of warmth. The idea of minor discomforts is a joke to me now. And the tolerance I've built to physical discomfort is leading to a tolerance of mental discomfort. = no fapping! Not only that, but hot/cold showers are good for circulation and muscle pain. I've started cold shaving too. So much better!
  • Cold Showers. I'm not going to tell you your testosterone increases. But it kills urges really hard. And it makes you feel more awake. Good for morning rituals.
  • I've managed to do Yoga every day for a week, as well as cold showers. That's definitely changed my mood every day. I'm almost up to a week of no online-gaming. That one is difficult, because I get little voices in my head to argue with just like with NoFap. But I've kept them at bay because I know it passes.
  • All of you should try taking a cold shower, in fact every person in the world! The feeling afterwards is that of rejuvenation, alertness, and motivation.
  • Had a cold shower.. Did some pushups and situps. Made eggs for breakfast. Now sipping some Rooibos tea. I normally feel cold in the morning, but after the cold shower - I actually feel warmer! Weird right?
  • At first I thought cold showers were ridiculous... until I actually tried them. I admit, it took lots of getting used to, but it truly does kill your urges. It almost shocks you back into your senses.
  • I just tried a cold shower for the first time. jumped in with it all the way cold. I only lasted like 45 seconds and just tried to control my breathing. I feel so invigorated now though! I'm definitely going to try and stay longer each time.
  • Another guy: Take a 5 minute shower every morning. Turn the faucet as cold as it will go. During the first few days, this will feel like hell on earth. After a few days, you'll learn to feel warm in a freezing shower and experience the soothing benefits on the mind and body.
  • Lately I am finding cold showers very helpful. I never did these before. I'm on day 6 or 7 and lasted 4 minutes today in an ice cold shower. It is extremely uplifting afterwards and improves my whole mood and I think makes everything much, much easier. I think if you haven't considered it, you might want to give them a try for a few weeks. It takes that long to really get adjusted to them. But they can be amazing.
  • [This guy used them as a way to stop masturbating in the shower] In the past I would often relapse while taking the shower - pissed off as I was, I made the decision to take cold showers. As a result, I haven't relapsed since then.
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Listen to an interview with Todd Becker, in which he explains the cold shower benefits. (Fast forward to last 10 minutes if you are short of time.)

2008 Study: Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression

Short summary of the Opponent Process" theory by someone who decided to experiment with the concept:

Somewhere, someone linked to this really interesting article about how overindulgence in pleasures might generate opposing, un-pleasurable sensations that become noticeable once the pleasure fades away. And vice versa.

It's really interesting stuff, but kind of a long article. Here's my reader's digest version:

Be aware

Any sensory or emotional stimulus, whether pleasurable or unpleasant, will give rise to a contrasting opponent process. While you're doing something pleasurable, an opposing process, a creeping discomfort, is developing, unnoticed. When the pleasure stops or pauses, the discomfort emerges into consciousness. The pleasure of overindulging in sweet desserts is likely to be followed by an unpleasant reaction that arises some time after you stop eating.

The reverse is also true.

For example, if you put your hand in cold water, a “warm” opponent processes is being stimulated, but you feel that warmth only once you withdraw your hand from the water.

Avoid overexposure to pleasurable stimuli.

Too much of a good thing can backfire. Moderate the intensity and frequency of pleasant stimuli to ensure that the opponent processes do not build up. For example, eating small portions of delicious foods, not at every meal, and spacing out bites — will tend to reduce the level the opponent processes (cravings) that would otherwise reinforce appetite and cravings.

When you go for a second cup of coffee, you may marginally increase your alertness in the short term, but at the same time you stimulate a reactive opponent process that counteracts the caffeine high and might leave you MORE tired later on. There is a biological argument for moderation!

Use unpleasant and stressful stimuli to indirectly build pleasure.

We can use discomfort to indirectly cause pleasure. Intermittent stresses can activate physical and psychological opponent processes that create heightened pleasure and satisfaction.

Stressful or unpleasant stimuli can activate pleasurable inhibitory processes in order to defend against and build tolerance to stress. These pleasure-generating defense mechanisms are real, biological processes which operate in our nervous systems.

One well known example is the production of endorphins, our natural opiates, brought about by strenuous exercise. Endorphins literally help us to endure the pain of exercise by providing a counteracting pleasure.


By increasing the intensity and frequency of stress exposures, we are not just building tolerance–we are actively building up a sustained background “tone” of pleasurable emotions. This is very much in line with what the Stoics called “tranquility”. Stoic tranquility is not apathy or a lack of feeling! On the contrary, it is a positive sense of equanimity, contentment, and happiness that endures and supports us. It is the opposite of depression; you might even call it “elevation”.

Pleasures that come from opponent-processes are “sluggish”; they take time to build, and decay more slowly. They continue even when the stimulus stops. And unlike direct pleasures, which may be more intense, there is no sudden withdrawal reaction when they stop, hence no “craving”. They tend to fade slowly.

The initial unpleasant stimulus — exercise, work, cold sensations — trains you to overcome barriers [i.e. Stephen Pressfield's RESISTANCE - the force that stops you from doing the art/work you're passionate about.]

[He goes on to describe how we can introduce unpleasant stimuli (like cold showers) to generate new pleasurable opponent processes that can build up enough background pleasure to counteract the unpleasant anxiety that typically accompanies addictions.]

Application questions

(from the article, edited a little by me):

Are there pleasures in your life that you crave when they are absent?

How aware are you of the tendency to foster opposing processes that turn pleasures into pains, and pains into pleasures?


My experience with cold showers

Having learned about this awesome Stoic "tranquility" concept, I'm experimenting with cold showers to build up a background tone of "equanimity, contentment, and happiness."

So far, I've found it necessary to get wet first and then turn it to cold. (Which enthusiasts (haha!) call a Scottish shower.) I find it helpful to count to 100 and march in place.

Cold showers are certainly energizing and invigorating. I could believe that there's some pleasure being generated by an opponent process. Probably my wimpy "counting to 100" regimen is not enough time to achieve big-time Stoic tranquility. But I keep doing them, and that says to me that there are some indirect rewards that make it "worth it." Because I'm in no way a masochistic person.

One day I was reasoning with myself about skipping the cold ending of my shower, since it was a cold day and I had quite a terrible headache. I did it anyway, and the headache took a break for about 20 minutes! It was less intense when it did reemerge. Interesting, right?


When you start to shower don't start ice cold. Find a middle temperature, so that the water isn't hot but not cold either. Stay there for 20-30 seconds and then slowly start to turn the water colder. When you are about to finish turn the water ice cold and see how long you can take it.

Another guy, who had HOCD

This is the most important to me and I feel like it did the most. Take Cold Shower! This is a must and has been the most responsible thing for my recovery. There are so many sources out there that praise the benefits of cold showers. I'm telling you know they work its absurd. Read this for basic info ( or this ( They have changed my life. Just hop in every morning into the shower and turn the knob all the way down low. It is so hard at first but once you get used to it its nothing now the coldest of cold doesn't faze me after 4 months of only cold water. I don't know what it did but it did something to my mind because my HOCD started to get less and less as I started making them a part of my daily routine.