Contrast Showers - 3 Reasons You Want Them
If you want to implement new habits to improve your health and happiness, contrast showers are a great place to start. I’ll walk you through it here, and hopefully convince you to make this part of your routine!
You ask, why do that to myself?
Well since you asked …
1. Because it beautifies your outsides.
When you’re enjoying a nice hot shower, your skin softens and your pores open. This is because heat has the general tendency of expansion. Cold, on the other hand, tends to contract. When you give yourself a cold blast of water, your pores close and the microarchitecture of your skin tightens. This can help the tone and regulate the oil production of your skin.
Your hair is prone to the same actions of hot and cold. Hair gurus say that cold water seals the outer layer of your hair strands locking in moisture and enhancing shine. Doesn’t sound too far-fetched to me. What definitely sounds reasonable is that the same contracting tendency of cold will apply to the pores of your scalp, which might help to mitigate excess oil production and help with dandruff.
What I’m saying is that not only does a cold blast make you feel more alert and alive it can make you look that way too!
2. Because it invigorates your insides.
The response of your warm relaxed body to a significant drop in temperature induces what is called a hormetic response. This is a beneficial response to a low dose stressor that is otherwise detrimental at high doses. In the case of cold: a short exposure like a cold blast vs. a frostbite situation.
In response to a stressor like a cold blast, your cells will feel as invigorated as you! They’re whipped into shape by the action of proteins aptly named heat shock and cold shock, which have wide ranging actions including nerve regeneration. They kick off a process called autophagy (means self-eating!), which is one of the ways your cells bag up and toss out the damaged or useless molecules inside of them. (1)
Another cool effect these shock proteins have is to ramp up your metabolism. The jolt to the system triggers a shift in your body’s energy production system, such that your fat cells will house more mitochondria (your cellular energy powerhouse) therefore burning more fat to produce energy. (2)
While your cells are cleaning house and burning fat, repeated cold exposure has also been shown to increase circulation of immune cells important in managing inflammation and fighting off infections. (3)
All these effects are supported by the increased blood flow that occurs if you turn the shower from hot to cold to hot to cold and so on. This alternation is like an outside nudge to your circulatory system to kick things up a notch. That’s more opportunities to take out the trash and bring in the goods!
3. Because you don’t want to!
Neither do I! I almost don’t do it every time. Yet I’ve just told you a ton of reasons how it can benefit you and I’ve barely scratched the surface. So why don’t we want to do it?
Because it’s outside of our comfort zone. Very much outside. Great! That makes your shower the perfect setting to practice taking care of yourself when you have to reach outside of our comfort zone. It’s useful to have a training place like this if you want to change your habits to change your life, because every behavior change demands you leave your comfort zone in some way. Plus it’s just you in there, nobody cares about your shower, so the pressure’s off.
If this is new to you or you want to up your contrast game, here’s some tips:
Listen to your body.
Practice trusting yourself to make choices that are best for you. You don’t always have to go full throttle. Do what you can for as long as you can. Only you know what’s best for you in the moment.
Be kind and gentle with you.
Great place to practice kind and loving self-talk. “You got this. I know you don’t want to, but I want you to feel how awesome it will be for you when it’s over. I love you no matter how this goes.”
Be playful and have fun.
I’ve found a cold blast an excellent opportunity to dance around ridiculously or hoot and holler or make funny faces or pump your fists or whatever makes you smile. Just don’t slip, OK?
Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave me a question or comment below, I love hearing your feedback.