On January 8, 2015 I took a cold shower. It hurt. The next day I did it again. I haven’t stopped since then, and now it’s been 611 days of cold showers. Really cold water.

But why?

I don’t know. I began without any particular objective other than, perhaps, self torture. I never thought of the wonderful physiological benefits explained many a time on the internet, magazines, and interviews. I simply did it for two innocent and irrational reasons: 1) my grandfather, a rare specimen of ultra high productivity and discipline, takes showers with cold water only and I thought that that was the key to his success, and 2) I watched a documentary about BUD/S Class 234 and saw the future Navy SEALs constantly immersed in the frigid Pacific Ocean and I said to myself “if they can endure hour after hour of surf passage and torture, why can’t I take cold showers?”

Today, with 611 days of frigid shocks, I lay the benefits in front of you as I see them. In plain English.

Mental clarity

I don’t know why, but my brain doesn’t function the same if I don’t start the day with a very cold shower. It’s as if the cold water rescued battalions of neurons from lethargy and laziness and kept them fully alert for at least 12 hours.

Energy and excitement

The first few seconds when the cold water touches our skin are traumatizing and exciting. With repetition, the trauma fades and the excitement persists. Excitement becomes productive energy.

Post-workout recovery

I work with a personal trainer who is preparing me for a fitness event. He has managed to make me exclaim, at the end of each workout, the phrase I used to yell when leaving the blackjack tables: “I will never ever come back, SOBs!” The freezing water helps me not only cool down my brain but also reduces inflammation in the muscles and joints and helps a timely recovery for my next training session.

Biohack: Change of State

This is the most important benefit and one that I recently discovered. When I know that I need to work on some important task but I don’t feel like doing it (welcome procrastination!), my solution is to change my state. There are three tactics to change one’s state:

  1. The most effective one is to exercise intensely, for example: a crossfit WOD,
  2. The least effective is to change your surroundings, for example: go to Starbucks or to the library, and
  3. The shortest yet effective is to stand under the cold liquid stream for five minutes.

I highly recommend you try tactics 1 or 3 the next time you feel like procrastinating. Total Biohack.