I hate mornings.
Every day the first thing I hear is chaos in the form of my alarm. Is there any sound worse than an alarm? Sometimes I hear other people’s alarms go off in public and I’m immediately filled with anxiety. I envy people who are able to wake up on their own. It’s a superpower I wish I had. Instead, I rely on a scheduled noise that makes me feel the sky is falling.
At least coffee is something to look forward to in the morning. But it’s also addicting. I have a friend who literally has an espresso machine set on a timer by his bed. Anything for the morning jolt coffee can give you. For me, that’s the most addicting part. I rely on the energy coffee can give me. Just like I rely on the alarm to yell at me everyday at 7 am.
However, there is one other thing that helps me wake up. One that’s not reliant on anything except my will. Cold showers.
I was turned on to cold showers through reading a neuroscience article. It was the only part of the article I understood but I’m glad I could at least grasp its importance. The article spoke of how warm showers, although a comforting luxury, are unnatural; we just don’t think about it because we’ve gotten so accustomed to them. Therefore, cold showers are more natural and our body needs them in order to function optimally. Just like our body craves movement and activity, our brain craves the neural reactions that occur from taking a cold shower. It’s just a matter of if your feelings are up for the task.
I could spend the rest of this time we have together going over the benefits of cold showers and plunges. But that’s not why I’m writing this. So highlight the following benefits for yourself so we can continue with the scheduled programming.
- Treat itchy skin and promote healthy skin and hair
- Increase circulation
- Heal muscle soreness
- Boost weight loss
- And of course, wake you up
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t take a cold shower everyday. I’m not a Joe Rogan, Jocko Willink, David Goggins, get SHIT FUCKING DONEEEEEE type of guy. But I do care about my health, especially my mental health. Mornings are a crucial time to establish control over your mind. Win the morning, win the day is the old cliche but it’s absolutely true. How you start generally foreshadows how you’ll compete and finish. And logically speaking, starting with something difficult is the best way to prepare for the obstacles your day has in store for you.
It was actually a cold shower that inspired me to write this article. For whatever reason, I was hyper-aware during this particular shower. Right away I noticed my reaction when the icy water hit my chest. A wave of discomfort washed over me. However, below the discomfort was another feeling. A feeling fighting me from seeing it, using thoughts to move my attention away from it.
“Just stay for 10 more seconds”
What are you?
“We can do 2 minutes tomorrow”
Why are you so convincing?
“TURN IT OFF!”
Thirty seconds passed. Then a minute. Finally two minutes (and I do mean finally, cold showers are not fun so don’t expect time to fly). I calmly turned off the shower, paying attention to my breath. It was calm. My movements were deliberate and poised. I was in control.
As I grabbed my towel, I felt another wave hit me. This time it wasn’t the chill of the water but something far more comforting. Creativity. In a rush I realized all that had happened to me. Through my cold struggle came self awareness and clarity. I noticed that I was out of control when the water first poured down on me. My thoughts and feelings of discomfort did everything they could to convince me to turn off the water. But by maintaining discipline in the suffering, I was able to obtain control over my mind and body. Before, it was the other way around. I relied on crutches like my alarm and coffee to wake up. That same sense of reliance continues to remain with me through the day. But through struggle, I realized that the only thing I needed was control over myself. That realization spawned this story and hopefully, it’s one that can help you push past your own discomfort.
I don’t know what your day has in store for you. It depends on the season of life you’re in. Unfortunately, we don’t control the seasons. We only control how we deal with them. I had no control of how cold that water was. I just had control over what choice I would make. That day I won. Other days I don’t. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. There’s no scoreboard, no one I’m competing against. There is only trying to get better everyday. Stepping up and confronting the adversity we will all inevitably face. The fact is, we each need that struggle if we are to get better. And what is the point of life if not to improve everyday.