Canyoning in ice-cold water in Scotland to cold showers in London.

This morning I had a breakthrough. As you may know from reading my blog I am on a bit of a journey to improve my skills and my productivity. I have implemented the Pomodoro Technique into my workflow. I am exercising each day and I am fasting for 16-hours a day to increase my energy levels. Another challenge that I am working on is taking cold showers.

Canyoning in Scotland.

This is a major issue for me. In 2012 I travelled to Edinburgh to go to one of my best friend’s stags and subsequent wedding (Hi Mark!). On the Saturday the group of 6 of us headed off to go canyoning. Canyoning involves walking, climbing, swimming and jumping through a series of canyons. There are mini waterfalls, pools and slippery rocks.

We put in our wetsuits, life jackets and helmets ready for the off. This was in the Sumer so even in Scotland the sun was trying to make an appearance. However, the water in the canyon that we were going to attack was mountain runoff water; it was FREEZING!

The first exercise to get us ready for the 2hour adventure was to jump into a canyon pool. I was the last of our group to jump in. And when I did the shock was like nothing else I had ever experienced. The cold took my breath away. I distinctly remember the thought jumping into my head that:

“Maybe I am allergic to cold!”

I struggled to move my arms through the freezing water as we had to swim to the other side of the pool. The rest of the group were in hysterics as I scrambled up the opposite edge of the pool.

The next 2-hours were… tough. I would love to say that I got over it and was able to conquer my fear and pain, but I didn’t. And on a Stag Do having a weakness plain for all to see is a bad strategy. At the end of the 2-hours we returned to base for showers. We took a picture, I am the one acting as though I smashed the adventure…(pictures never tell the full story).

Cold shower breakthrough.

So back to this morning and my breakthrough. Years later I read Wim Hoff’s book Becoming The Iceman. Wim is an incredible human. He can withstand record-breaking stretches in ice baths amongst other extreme challenges. His books are worth a read to see what he can do and how he does it. As someone with cold water issues, I thought that I could follow his strategies to get over my weakness. Wim suggests using cold showers as a way to get you used to cold immersion.

The strategy starts with just 10s at the end of each shower on cold for a week or so and then each week another 5-10s. I have been following this for about 3/4 months having progressed to 30s or so on cold at the end of a regular shower. Usually, I am static; tensed up as I count out the seconds and then jump out or turn the shower off. Today though was different.

I had the usual sharp intake of breath as the water changed from warm to cold. The time it took for me to feel comfortable under the cold water was significantly shorter, only around 5-10s. And I felt super comfortable. I felt for the first time like I could move. I continued counting all the way to 100. And I stopped counting able to enjoy the sensation. It was that I didn’t know that it was cold but that the reaction to it was not severe.

Mini-challenges and the drive to improve.

This might seem like a small victory but it felt huge and I feel energised and awake ready for the day ahead. There are lots of documented health benefits to cold showers. For me though I think back to that fateful jump into the cold pool in Scotland. I think I’m ready for you now.

For years I tried to take cold showers and had just given up. But lockdown and taking on mini-challenges, to make myself more productive, has helped me over the hump. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s shower! If you have been experimenting with cold showers let me know how you are doing. Best place to reach out to me is on Twitter via @JODonnellCoach.

James O'Donnell
James O'Donnell

James is on a mission to put the Social back into Social Media!