Start with a gasp

I’m a shower-before-bed person. I’ve never been able to understand how a person can get between the sheets all dusty and sticky from the day, and actually sleep. Even if I haven’t done much to raise a sweat and I feel cleanish and I’m tired so I don’t bother, as I lie there I can feel the gross stickiness of skin ooze and air crud. Ugh! Gotta get up, shower it off, rub dry, and then I can sleep.

Well, sometimes. Insomnia is a thing. But that’s a topic for another post.

Returning to the topic of this post, there’s this blogger that I sort of follow, by which I mean that I receive her posts in one of my many extra email accounts – the one dedicated to efforts at self-improvement. I believe in having lots of separate accounts because I wear different mindsets when I’m trying to be a better person, or farming and gardening, or dealing with our finances, or writing, or blogging. If all my emails go into a single account the result is a mess worse than the top of my desk, and I can’t find anything and nothing gets done.

On the other hand, I don’t check all those accounts every day, and as for the self-improvement one … well, I read the email topics as they come up as notifications on my phone, but usually that’s about it. Self-improvement is something I aspire to wanting to do, but most of the time it’s hard enough just to be as good as I already am.

Anyway, this blogger – she calls herself “Dr. Stephanie” and she writes mainly about keto and fasting, and she offers various courses, none of which I’ve actually done – wrote a post about how effective humans kick-start their day. It happened to land in my inbox on a day when I was lying in bed, hating myself for lacking the energy to get the hell up and do something with whatever was left of my pathetic life … and I read it.

Most of her suggestions I’ve forgotten. They were things like “feel gratitude” and “journal”, which are lovely feel-good ideas, but in the moment didn’t feel sufficiently like the kick in the butt I was craving. The cold shower, however … Now that sounded like a punishment worthy of the name! That I deserved.

cold-showerSo I dragged my bloated, sweaty (this was back when nights were hot) almost-corpse from between the sheets and into the shower. And I turned the faucet on to cold. And wailed.

It was so horrible!

Oh. My. Word. It was so horrible.

But then a strange thing happened. First, my eyes – clenched shut against the bright light of the bathroom – popped open. Then my skin stopped cringing from the rush of icy water, and I found myself intentionally exposing places like my armpits and the back of my neck and the crack of my butt – not exactly enjoying the rush of cold, but welcoming it anyway.

She recommended five minutes. I didn’t time myself but I doubt I lasted that long. I simply rinsed all over, rotating and bending to let the water get at all my less accessible spots. I didn’t use soap or a cloth, just cold water. Then I stepped out, found a fresh towel, and scrubbed myself dry.

I felt … Amazing. Invigorated. Energized.

Fun fact: this insanity is actually good for you. This morning when I went poking through Google in search of funny free images of cold showers, I found any number of articles touting cold showers as a solution to obesity, depression, low sex drive, bad skin, low energy – in short, pretty much all the ills that might beset your fleshly self.

Plus it was kinda magical, actually, how it made me feel.

Irrelevant photo of a happy memory. That’s another kind of magic. And being able to enjoy a happy memory … That’s the magic I really want to flow through me.

So I did it again the next day. And the day after that. And again a few more times. Then came a day when I had to rush for an early appointment and didn’t have time, and I felt icky all day, so the next day I made sure to shower again. Every now and then I skip for a day or two … but I keep going back to it.

It is always horrible. The only way to do it is to drag myself out of bed and get under the shower before I do anything else, because giving myself time to think about it – for instance while I put in contact lenses or brush teeth – just makes it worse. And now, as the nights get cold and the early mornings are chilly and I’m waking up before dawn as often as not, it’s really, really hard. Frankly, given my record for doing really hard things, I’m not that optimistic that I’ll keep going when winter really sinks its teeth into us. But … I hope I will. I intend to try.

Because that moment when my eyes pop open? When suddenly and with no effort of will going back to sleep is not only impossible, but also not remotely desirable? Holy cow, it’s a rush like no other!

Hey there – talk to me! What’s your favorite way to mortify your flesh? Does it make you feel as good as a cold shower?

Author: Belladonna Took

Well into my second half-century and still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up. Born South African, naturalized American, perpetually at risk of losing my balance and landing ass-first in the Atlantic.

16 thoughts on “Start with a gasp”

  1. I cannot even conceive of a cold shower. Only on the hottest of days, and even then for a split second. The Husband, however, showers outside 365 days a year and only not when it’s raining (obviously!). He does the cold shower thing and swears by it. That probably explains a lot! I don’t envy you with winter approaching…I can’t wait for summer. Right now, spring has regressed to winter. I HATE it.

    Be well, Val


    1. In the original blog that got me started on this she said it would become “addictive” and I thought “Yeah, right.” But honestly, it is! It’s beyond horrible to step under that icy flow, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep it up when mornings are really cold … but DANG it feels good when it’s over! Why doesn’t Husband shower in the rain? That seems an odd reason not to … Unless it’s thundery, of course.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have tried it. I thought I had an addictive personality. Clearly not that addictive.

        I suspect The Husband’s aversion is rooted in a 3 week stint on active duty in the Rhodesian Army and when it just didn’t stop raining. He hates it raining on his head and down the back of his neck. That, and that it’s a route march from the bedroom to the shower – necessitates taking a towel with him. Drying/wrapping oneself in a wet/damp towel? Probably not sensible.


          1. Well, that does depend on the circumstances: we have been known to sit on the stoep and revel in a rare summer thunderstorm when all the Capies take refuge under their beds. Thunder, lightning and dancing in the rain, tempting though it may be, is not sensible. And yes, damp towels – just the end…

            Liked by 1 person

  2. We are kindred spirits when it comes to being clean to get into bed.

    As for the cold shower, yes it feels good when you stop, but so does hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. I’m going with the hammer route. Less pain.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I promise to try it….once! And I may wait until next summer. Utah is supposed to get a right chilly cold snap tomorrow and it’s brisk now! XOXOXO.


    1. Yeah, my shower this morning was beyond awful. Bad enough that the air is getting colder … I forgot that the water gets colder too! I might have to quit this fabulous new habit until summer.


      1. Actually, our water which comes from a well 575 ft deep, stays pretty much the same temperature year-round. However, as the air temperature is cooler, there is a greater delta-T between your body and the surrounding air – Consequently you get cold more quickly.

        Woorde van wysheid van die “Hubbit”

        Liked by 1 person

  4. In some of the big Swedish cities, they have covered areas over frozen lakes with holes cut in them for people to go take a dip before work when it’s -30C out.
    That’s it.
    That’s all I’ve got.

    Liked by 1 person

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