My wife and I are incredibly fortunate to have access to a positive environment for growth. One of the guest speakers at our recent conference, Paul Taylor, spoke on the 7 Rituals of Mental Vitality. While I had already been doing a number of the seven, two stood out for me. One, because I thought “you’ve got to be kidding me” and the other because when I took up the challenge of the first one, I had to learn the second one quickly!
First… cold showers. Not luke warm, not slightly cold, I’m talking turn that dial as far to the cold side as it goes, and leaving the pressure up. This was not my idea of a great start to the day.
But Paul’s case for this was compelling, he referenced credible sources, he challenged us, and as I didn’t want to come back to the next day of the conference to find I was the only person who hadn’t had a cold shower… I tried it. I have done it every day since. And I now… wait for it… like it!
Let’s be clear though… I’m not talking about having the whole shower on cold – just a minimum of 30 seconds before you get out. “But why?” you’re probably thinking. What I learnt about this is that ending with a cold shower:
- Causes immune system up-regulation, reducing sickness and absenteeism by 30%.
- Helps to improve mood (sounds counter-intuitive, I know) and prevent / treat depression.
- Helps with brain and body health by triggering the release of stress response proteins, norepinephrine, and irisin.
- Develops grit by making us comfortable with being uncomfortable.
The second thing was effective breathing techniques, in particular box breathing. Focussing on breathing techniques improves focus, soothes anxiety and helps relieve tension. It also helps you cope with cold showers.
Are you up for the challenge?