A week ago in a moment of stress and limited television options, I was sitting on the couch with my dad while he cycled through all five TV stations we get repeatedly asking what show was airing on each one. I was scrolling through Twitter and desperately reading aspirational self-help listicles. You already know how this makes me feel.
The tip that I chose to share with my equally neurotic father was: take a cold shower in the morning. The benefits are both vague and specific: it energizes you, gets you ready to begin the day, makes you more efficient because you won’t want to waste time in the shower. The thing that got me the most was a weird scientific paper saying that taking a cold shower in the morning was as effective in treating depression as medication.
My dad and I are both extremely cheap and immediately thought of how much money we could save on probably-needed-in-the-future medication with this. And because it was 9:30 on Friday night and we were watching a rerun of The Mentalist, we agreed we would try it for one week.
The first two days were horrible. The prospect of taking a cold shower did not make me get up and great the day with enthusiasm; instead, I stayed in bed even longer than usual. When I finally did wake up, I took the fastest shower of my life while groaning continuously a la Tina Belcher. I didn’t even get my hair fully wet, as I realized moments later trying to comb it.
The worst part was thinking about the fact that a) this was all my fault for sharing this stupid fun fact and b) if this works and actually improves my mood I have to do it for the rest of my life. How could I let myself be sad and lethargic in the future while knowing that I had the tool to alleviate all of that at my disposal?
Luckily the next morning was Monday, a day when I am on a different schedule from the rest of my family. After an extra half-hour in bed filled with dread, I tried to take a cold shower, I really did. But I slowly turned up the faucet. After washing my hair I was filled with guilt and turned the faucet back down to just warmer than tap.
Today was day 7 and we are done with the challenge. Here’s my very scientific conclusion:
Yeah, it works. But only for a couple of hours early in the day. My dad was expecting 12 hours of energy and instead he got 3 or 4. If you are trying to start your day and have no energy, try it for a couple days.
But if you’re problem is like mine, and you need an incentive to get up, this is the opposite of helpful. Take a warm shower that you can look forward to. However, when I normally take a hot shower, I stand under too-hot water for way too long. So my compromise now has been to keep the water a little cooler than what I had been doing and then, after I’ve washed my hair, stand under cold water for about a minute. My skin says thank you and I get the perfect combination of a warm shower I can look forward to and a cold shower to energize me for the day.