What's the best way to take a cold shower?
This is a question that most people probably never think about, because it's an every-day thing. But for many of us, such as myself, who grew up in more western cultures, with more modern conveniences, visiting places that don't have hot water can be quite an adjustment, perhaps even more difficult than learning to use a new type of toilet.
I know that not everyone handles cold showers the same. Some people dread them, others think nothing of them. How can I learn to be in the latter category?
What physiological, mental or physical techniques exist that make cold showers more enjoyable?
I really like this question because I face this very problem at least once a year. It still takes about 3 days to get used to, but then, I really enjoy it. The main point from Aditya's answer I want to underline is "practice makes a man perfect!".
I faced the same problem when I start spending more time in Indonesia, water is cold and most apartments I rented before I bought a house had no water heater, till I discovered the tankless instant water heaters, I got one for less than a 100 USD and my life changed after that, I took it with me when I plan to stay for extended periods in a place. Two screws to hold it in place and plug it in and you will have the warm nice showers, it wont be convenient for short stays. It's too small the one I got and so light, little bigger than a tissue box.
Many good answers have been posted, and I agree with all of them. Just a small thing that I want to add based on self-experience: jumping around after getting contact with cold water helps me easier to adapt to the coldness, although I don't know why and whether it's acceptable for health or not.
@AndrewT.: Jumping around increases heart rate and blood flow. It's even better if you have a workout just before your cold shower.
You can always get a simple water heating rod, if you're in India. It costs around $4-5 for a cheap one. To use it you can use a coat hanger and fix the clip on it.
@noob That method is not applicable on a shower and is only applicable to a bucket and jug.
@AdityaSomani Yeah, that's why I didn't posted it as an answer. But anyways it might help the OP, if she have other ways to take bath.
Wow... I am just stupidied by your toilet link.. and the thought of cold water only showers! This would explain why my old roommate insisted on cold showers as he was from another country and he was probably used to it from where he came from. He refused to use the AC and taking a cold shower was the only way I could sleep at night because it would be so hot and the shower would help lower my body temperature. Luckily there was hot water so I would start warn and go cooler until the coldest I could handle. Not sure how to start out cold though :x
Have a soap/shower gel that "works" in cold water (lather and rince properly), otherwise you will have soap residue on you all day.
Can't add it as an answer, but I'd use the Wim Hof Method (WHM). It has several scientific publications (e.g. PNAS). As a breathing technique it has several effects on your body. I know this because I was one of the test subjects in a study from a Dutch university. The effect that I always go for when I deal with cold things and the WHM is to raise my adrenaline. It has a pain killing effect. I can also warm my body a little bit. You can also Google a bit about Wim Hof by typing his nickname "The Iceman". His method is learnable. PNAS Paper: http://www.innerfire.nl/files/pnas.pdf
While growing up I had to turn on the heater before taking a shower and sometimes when its getting late, you really don't have time to do that. Here's some advice which might help.
I'm going to go ahead and assume that any hot water source is unavailable and you are in a frame of mind where the water is too cold!!!
Step 1 - Making Peace with the Cold Water
Okay so you don't like cold water, the best way to make peace with it is to convince yourself that it's not too cold.
It's like entering a cold swimming pool, if you dip your feet in it for a while, it'll be easier for you to get in.
When you wake up in the morning, your body temperature feels lower because you haven't had breakfast yet, that's a good thing because it makes it easier to ease into the seemingly freakish cold water.
If you happen to have a shower, then turn the shower on and let it gradually touch your feet first, followed by your hands. Keep the water running and slowly ease in from the extremities of your body all the way to your face. You face is the part which you'll dread the most, so save it till the end after you feel like the body temperature going down.
If you happen to have a jug and a bucket of water, follow the swimming pool strategy. Fill in the bucket halfway and dip your feet and hands in it. Then slowly start pouring down the cold water on your hands and proceed.
One additional thing which might help is to have a towel on you. A towel which you could dip in the water and squeeze out/rub on your body will help.
Step 2 - Taking the Leap of Faith
You have to remember, practice makes a man perfect! Doing it the first time is much harder than doing it the Nth time.
After cooling down your body for a few minutes, hold your breath and step into the shower, as soon as you get into it, don't chicken out! The leap is the hardest, after it, it gets exponentially easier.
Same goes with a bucket of water and jug, when you're ready, repeatedly take a lot of water from the bucket and pour it over yourself. You start doing it, don't stop!
Water in which you were dipping your hands or feet it will actually be warmer and make it a bit easier, which is why I feel using a bucket and jug is easier with cold water.
Step 3 - Finish as soon as possible
Remember, once you get into it, there's no coming back, there's no point doing the whole procedure from scratch again. So, keep pouring that cold water over you, it gets much easier when you keep doing it. Pause for short breaks only when you need to use soap or shampoo.
Wash your body in little sections, torso at once, feet at once, hands at once etc. After you're done, get a fresh towel and hug yourself tight with it.
I've done the exact procedure I mentioned a several hundred times in my life quite comfortably, of course I like my hot water, but where there's a will, there's a way.
"It's like entering a cold swimming pool, if you dip your feet in it for a while, it'll be easier for you to get in." Really? For me the only way to enter a cold swimming pool (or cold shower) is to plunge in.
@jpatokal I presumed that one tried that already (frame of mind where the water is **too cold!!!**) and just can't seem to do it. I've had that issue several times and I felt that saying "Man up!" wasn't a solution to the problem. ;)
Very nice answer. I would like to emphasize on step 3's *keep pouring that cold water*. The moment you stop pouring, your body will try to heat itself and it makes you feel colder than before... unless you're ready for it (for soap & shampoo). Also, wrap your body with towel quickly after finishing for the aforementioned reason, and try not to catch a cold! :)
I think that starting with the hands then the feet might be better since the toes are less sensitive and can give you a false impression of how cold it actually is... giving you more of a shock than you might expect?