Why I Take Only Cold Showers
Taking cold showers has become central to my environmentalism.
You might immediately assume this is an effort to avoid reproduction out of concern for overpopulation. But no. It has nothing to do with suppressing my libido.
Intrigued? Read on. Disappointed?
Regular readers of this blog may have noticed a recurring theme: acting in ways that benefit the environment also benefits you. The two aren’t mutually exclusive–on the contrary, green lifestyle changes almost always result in being happier, healthier, and wealthier.
So how do cold showers factor into that?
For starters, cold showers are better for you than warm showers. Exposing yourself to cold water for brief periods is an example of hormesis, or ‘good stress’. According to the US National Library of Medicine, “low doses of otherwise harmful agents are beneficial at threshold low levels…[activating] multiple conserved protective enzymatic and signaling systems.” In other words, studies indicate that low-level environmental stresses can result in a strengthened immune system, upregulation of mechanisms that repair DNA and proteins, and augmented antioxidant defenses.
This is how vaccines work. The injection contains a weakened version of a pathogen, which gives the immune system the ‘practice’ it would need to defend itself against the real deal. It’s also part of why doctors recommend a daily glass of red wine.
Research also suggests that cold showers may improve circulation, relieve depression, maintain skin and hair health, and also increase testosterone and fertility in males. Hmm, maybe this is about libido!
As for the environmental benefits, these should be obvious. You’re less likely to linger in a cold shower, so you’ll conserve water. Also, cold showers use less energy, since heating the water for a hot shower requires a lot more electricity. Needless to say, cold showers will save you money on your energy bill as well.
Showering in cold water evidently has its benefits. But at the beginning of this post, I said it’s central to my environmentalism. I’ll explain:
I’ve been taking cold showers exclusively since July, and they’ve come to represent my commitment to both maintaining my health and fighting for the environment.
If I can endure regular cold showers, then I can make myself eat healthy and exercise regularly (which have their own indirect environmental benefits). It’s a rather visceral reminder that I care about my body and want to do things that improve it.
Cold showers also reinforce my convictions surrounding environmental issues. They help me remember that for billions of people, hot showers are a luxury available only to the rich. Hot showers are a product of the industrial age, which is in danger of ending abruptly if we don’t address the enormous problems that face us quickly and decisively.
Let me reiterate: the collapse of global civilization during this century is a very real possibility if we don’t get our shit together.
On that note, I think this also makes a great metaphor for what we need to do as a society. Cold showers are traditionally recommended as a treatment for an overactive libido. And I certainly believe that as a civilization, we need to quell our lust for resources, profit, and unlimited expansion. Because we have reached this planet’s limits.
And there’s nowhere else to expand.