Having read an article about the alleged health benefits of taking a cold shower every morning, we made Rory Gascoigne do it for a week. Here are the results.
Day 1: I can shower in 20 seconds flat, and ‘yes’ my penis can get smaller than that:
Short, sharp breaths help. An unwillingness to stay in long enough to wash my hair has resulted in dandruffy shoulders. Start as you mean to go on: greasy and ashamed.
Day 2: Yesterday my partner said my hair smelled of toes… time for a proper wash:
Soap doesn’t spread that well on a dry body and my scalp doesn’t feel particularly clean. I’ve learned that showers are not the oasis of warmth and tranquillity I once thought they were. However, I did have a moment of peace during my shower, followed immediately by a girlish screech. This leads me to the newly discovered sounds I make; I’ll try and get a sample for you tomorrow. And finally, cold showers do not seem to help my circulatory condition all that much…
Day 3: One cold shower, and 10 functioning fingers:
I got my recording (you may want to turn your speakers down - shower noises are loud and grating), but I trimmed out some of the screams for the sake of my masculine self-image:
Today’s shower wasn’t bad, but I believe that’s mostly due to cowardice. For tomorrow I’m challenging myself to have a reasonably lengthed shower that follows normal procedure. None of this soaping outside the water stream bullshit! My pillow also looked like a marshmallow this morning (the cover is black) and my shoulders look like the Andes, so I’m going to have to try a little harder at the hair washing if I want to maintain my relationship. In terms of psychological changes so far, none. It has only been 3 days and these things tend to take a little more time.
Day 4: I am the master of my own chilly destiny.
I did it. I showered properly, I’m still sporadically shivering wildly, but I’m clean and I feel good. I’m full of energy (but that might be the 4 cups of coffee) and I’m ready to do something… If only I had a job. I’ve found that music really helps, and the longer you test the temperature with your hand, the harder it is to get in there. Obviously. My circulation has been pretty good these last two days, but it’s still too early to tell if the problems pictured above were caused by the showers, or just by me sitting on my arse for hours and hours each day.
I’ve put some clothes in the washing machine, I’ve put the dishwasher on, I’m making some breakfast for the first time in a few days (it’s 12pm), and I’m about to call the tax people. Relatively productive! But it is very hard to tell how much of an effect the cold shower had on this. It could be the coffee or the sweet uppy beats of The Mystery Lights. Or maybe the feelings of self-loathing that come with unemployment have finally manifested themselves into something useful? Unlikely. I could remove some of the variables to see what happens, but I’m afraid my body would shut down.
Day 5: My partner’s at home today so I’ll have to keep my screams to a minimum:
I managed to contain myself today and it’s definitely getting easier to face up to the icy water. All went well apart from when I was drying off and a rogue drip from the shower head caught me in the back; I let out quite a scream. After 5 days of this, I’m starting to notice a common theme: I’m cold! I may well feel relatively invigorated and awake, but I’m cold! Really cold.
The experiment isn’t over yet but the pain/gain ratio seems a little unbalanced in my opinion. I couldn’t say with certainty that any of the positives I felt yesterday were due to the shower alone but I can, however, say that I’m 100% certain the shower is wholly responsible for my freezing nips. With that being said, I’m not the kind of person who wakes up at 5am and jumps straight into 50 squats before glugging down a nutribullet protein breakfast while reading the latest issue of Forbes. If you are that kind of beast, this may be right up your freaky street.
Day 6: What are you trying to prove?
For me, I’m trying to prove to my editor that this is a naff idea and a clickbait puff piece, but if you’re doing this for yourself there must be something more. This is by no means a pleasant way to start the day, regardless of how easy it gets. You are subjecting your body to a shocking experience to kick it into action. If there is an element of your psyche that you’re addressing by blasting yourself with ice every morning, this isn’t the solution you need. As my dad liked to say: “only the weak seek to prove themselves at every turn.”
It’s true that we are each fully capable of facing up to our fears and that the mind is indeed stronger than the body, but that doesn’t mean we should do things like this! It’s the equivalent of hiring someone to punch you in the stomach every time you say “erm”. It might work, but you shall be forever damaged by the experience. It is through genuine kindness and understanding that we become most comfortable in ourselves, not through a militaristic intellectualisation of our own weaknesses.
That being said, whilst I have studied them in depth, I am not someone who has ever struggled with genuine psychological difficulties. Just your average excessive social anxiety, nothing clinical. As such, maybe I should shut up and get on with my week of cold showers.
Day 7: Don’t waste your time:
This weeks showers have very much reminded me of being on the kind of holiday when you wake up hot and sticky, cool off under some cold water, and collapse under the realisation you’ll never be able to afford it again. Today I had absolutely no problem getting into the shower, or giving myself a proper clean. I remain calm and my breathing has somewhat stabilised, but I still don’t enjoy them and feel it’s an unpleasant way to start any day.
Perhaps it reminds me just a little too much of coming into this world with a cold splash into a paddling pool full of blood. Thanks for having me during your alternative phase, mum and dad! All in all, enjoy your showers for the small moment of tranquillity they provide in a world filled with sports cars and Nigel Farage. Don’t turn them into a chore, no matter how good for your mental health some whack job may say they are. Also, my girlfriend thinks I gave her cystitis and she’s pretty pissed.
I’m going to have a hot bath.