I've been taking cold, outdoor showers for the last couple months right next to my tiny house. The last warm shower I had inside was right before the new year and oddly enough, I don't miss them. Full length cold showers wasn't an intention I set out to do, but due to circumstance and choice, it's been a part of my everyday routine.
Back when I first moved to Northern Minnesota in 2009, I discovered the locals who were accustomed to jumping in Lake Superior all four seasons. It was shown to me as a way to spiritually connect with the land and water, often celebrating each full moon with a brisk plunge or a way to deepen your love and ability to handle the cold.
Because it was adventurous and nerve wrecking, I was hooked. The best part was when I would shuffle back out with fists clenched and body shaking would I notice through the giggles and smiles how clear my mind was. A complete clean slate. My body felt invigorated and super charged, like I had been pumped with the freshest oxygen that gave me the tingles. I would feel absolutely amazing for the rest of the day.
Don't worry, I'm not going to make you take cold showers. Although, don't let me stop you! I know feeling amazing is on your daily checklist but maybe cold water isn't your first approach.
For me, my cold shower experience is based on three factors that organically came together.
Tiny has no shower or running water, so all of my showers happen outside these 186 square feet. Early designs had a shower drawn in, but striving to be off-grid with the least amount of moving parts was a philosophy Lucas and I warmed to. Having lived aboard our sailboat for three seasons gave me the confidence to know I can shower outside my home and get creative.
So where have I showered all these years? Local gyms, work (many of my previous jobs had employee showers), friends/family homes and on outdoor trips (rivers, lakes and campgrounds).
Throw COVID on top of my housing situation and things get tricky. The gym, work, and a friends shower have not been consistent options. This past summer, we started to hang a solar shower in a tree next to Tiny from relief from the Southern Oregon heat. That quickly turned into a habit because we don't have AC. As the weather started to cool off, I kept hanging the shower and loving the close proximity of a place to not only rinse off but take a full shower. Thank goodness for earth-friendly shampoo.
As the weather changed and the water from the hose became colder, I noticed my showers started to turn into a mindfulness activity. Opening the flow of the water has become the reset button. Slowly, I've been able to handle colder and longer showers where I don't shiver and suds up as fast as I can. Sometimes the moon and the stars are out and seeing my breath and body steam is quite calming.
Don't get me wrong, there were weeks where I was scared to go out there and feel the shock of the cold. It felt similar to when I was scared of the dark as a kid. My imagination made the water colder in my head and the experience miserable. But deep down, there was a voice saying to get out there and don't overthink what will make you feel calm, peaceful and alive.
Like a paddle and bike ride, I've never regret a cold shower. It's worth it every time.
A practical way to integrate cold water into your life is to take your regular, warm shower and then for the last 10-30 seconds, turn it to cold. Let the water shock your system, breathe and let the instinctual body take over. It's not going to feel amazing (shocker) if anything it might feel unpleasant. Relax your mind and try to be in the moment. Over time, you won't feel the cold as much and you'll notice how charged you feel during and after.